Ground Loops in Portland, OR, Oregon, Geothermal Applications

You need a new heating and cooling system. Maybe you’re partial to the idea of a new Geothermal HVAC. Whatever the situation, you undoubtedly want to know a little bit more about how such a system works.

Geothermal HVACs variously cool and heat your home by extracting ground temperature. This is possible because of an underground system called a geothermal ground loop.

Ground loops are essentially just an underground pipe system. There are a few basic kinds of these systems that can be used for heating and cooling commercial or residential buildings.

The way it works is, antifreeze fluid flows through these plastic pipes to move heat quickly and efficiently up to a heat pump in your home.

There exist four different types of loops: Open Loop, Pond Loop, Horizontal Loop and Vertical Loop. These are divvied up into two categories categories: either they’re open loop systems or closed loop systems. The right system for you is determined by the structure and its environment. Residential systems mostly use vertical or horizontal loops.

Below are additional details on each sort of ground loop.

Closed systems, which consist of vertical, horizontal, and pond loops, continuously push 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 small holes in the ground that go 100-400 feet deep. Then pipes are driven into the holes and connected under ground to form the vertical loop. Next, additional pipes are attached that channel fluid to the indoor system to transfer the desired temperature from the ground.

A horizontal system takes up much more space but is typically not as costly since it uses 2 straight pipes inserted 6 inches down in the ground over an area of ¼ to ¾ acre.

If you want a pond loop system, it should go without saying that you must be in close proximity to a pond, lake, pond, or well. Coils are installed vertically and
secured to the bottom of the water source. Water is then transferred through more pipes belowground to a pump, where the heat is withdrawn and cool water is reintroduced to the pond. Still, in order for this system to work, the water must not be acidic or else pipes will erode and filters will need replacing often.

The prime difference between open and closed looped systems is the open loop’s need for a plentiful source of groundwater, a well or a pond, for instance. From there, it directly pumps water into the heat pump unit to be used in heating and cooling your dwelling or other structure.

There are two ways to take care of used water: through surface drainage or water re-injection. In returning the water back to the earth, it must be said that pollution is not a by-product. The only difference in water that’s processed through a geothermal heat pump is a minute change in temperature.

Before installing an open loop system, it is critical to know whether a well or pond has enough water to power your geothermal heat pump, and that it won’t drain a neighbor’s well source. Make sure you check with your local contractor on whether there’s enough water at hand to support installing an open loop geothermal heating system.