Ground Loops in Augusta County, Virginia, Geothermal Applications

You’ve just purchased or are thinking about purchasing a a new heating and cooling system. Maybe you’re considering a new Geothermal HVAC. Whatever the circumstances, you very likely want to know a little more about how geothermal works.

Geothermal HVACs take consistent temperature from the ground to put hot or cool air into your home. This can be done because of an underground system called a geothermal ground loop.

Ground loops are pretty much just a system of pipes buried in the ground. A few 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 effectively and efficiently down to a heat pump in the building.

Typically used are four different types of geothermal 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 right system for your house is contingent on your building and the environment surrounding it. Household systems usually use vertical or horizontal loops.

Below are further explanations of each kind of ground loop.

Closed systems, which encompass vertical, horizontal, and pond loops, continuously move water through them.

Vertical ground loops are the most common type used residentially because, unlike horizontal loops, they don’t need much of space. They’re positioned by drilling small-diameter holes in the ground to a depth of 100-400 feet. Then pipes are inserted into the holes and connected below the ground to form the vertical loop. Next, additional pipes are attached that convey fluid to the indoor system to transfer the needed temperature from the ground.

A horizontal loop system has to have significantly more space but is actually less pricey considering it uses only 2 straight pipes set 6 inches in the earth over an area of ¼ to ¾ acre.

In order to install a pond loop system, you obviously must be near a pond, lake, pond, or well. Coils are installed vertically and affixed to the bottom of the water source. Water is then transported through more pipes underground to a pump, where the heat is pulled out and cool water is returned to the pond. Still, in order for this system to work, the water can never be be acidic or else pipes will erode and filters will have to be replaced often.

The major difference between open and closed looped systems is the open loop’s need for a plentiful 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 home or other structure.

Used water is taken care of in one of two ways: through surface drainage or water re-injection. In returning the water back to the earth, it must be said 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.

Prior to 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 use up a neighbor’s well source. Be sure to check with your local contractor on whether there’s enough water at hand to warrant installing an open loop geothermal heating system.