Ground Loops in Lane County, Oregon, Geothermal Applications

You’ve just bought or are mulling over getting a a new heating and cooling system. Maybe you’re considering a new Geothermal HVAC. If so, you very likely want to know a little bit more about how such a system works.

Geothermal HVACs take consistent temperature from the ground to deliver hot or cool air to your home’s interior. This works because of an underground system called a geothermal ground loop.

Ground loops are pretty much just a system of pipes buried in the ground. Several basic kinds of ground loop systems are used for heating and cooling most residential and commercial buildings.

Antifreeze fluid flows through these plastic pipes to move heat fast and efficiently to a heat pump in the building.

There exist four different types of ground loops: Open Loop, Pond Loop, Horizontal Loop and Vertical Loop. All four fall into one of two categories: either they’re open loop systems or closed loop systems. The best system for your home is determined by your building and the environment surrounding it. Residential systems primarily use vertical or horizontal loops.

Below are more specifics on each sort of ground loop.

Closed systems, which consist of vertical, horizontal, and pond loops, continuously circulate water through them.

Vertical ground loops are the most common type used residentially because, unlike horizontal loops, they don’t need a significant amount of space. They’re set in place by drilling tight-diameter holes in the ground to a depth of 100-400 feet. Then pipes are inserted into the holes and connected under ground to form the vertical loop. Next, extra pipes are attached that channel fluid to the indoor system to transfer the necessary temperature from the ground.

A horizontal system takes up much more space but usually is less pricey considering it uses 2 straight pipes set 6 inches in the ground within an area of ¼ to ¾ acre.

If you’re partial to a pond loop system, you plainly must be close to a pond, lake, pond, or well. Coils are installed vertically and anchored to the bottom of the water source. Water is then moved through more pipes belowground to a pump, where the heat is extracted and cool water is put back into the pond. However, in order for this system to work, the water can in no way be be acidic or else pipes will corrode and filters will need to be replaced often.

The essential difference between open and closed looped systems is the open loop’s need for a sufficient source of groundwater, like a well or pond. From there, it directly pumps water into the heat pump unit for use in heating and cooling your house or other structure.

Normally, used water is disposed off in either of the following ways: through surface drainage or water re-injection. In returning the water back to the earth, it is important to note that there is no pollution generated. The only difference in water that’s processed through a geothermal heat pump is a negligible change in temperature.

Before installing an open loop system, it is vital to know whether a well or pond holds enough water to power your geothermal heat pump, and that it won’t drain a neighbor’s well source. See that you check with your local contractor on whether there’s enough water available to warrant installing an open loop geothermal heating system.