Ground Loops in Western Montana, Montana, Geothermal Applications

You’ve finally gotten, or are thinking about getting, a a new heating and cooling system. Maybe you’re partial to the idea of a new Geothermal HVAC. If so, you very likely want to know a bit more about how geothermal works.

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

Ground loops are,in essence, just a system of pipes buried in the ground. There are a few basic types of these systems that can be used for heating and cooling commercial or residential buildings.

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

Typically used are four different kinds of ground 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 contingent on the specific structure and the property on which it sits. Residential systems usually use vertical or horizontal loops.

Below are further explanations of each kind of ground loop.

Closed systems, which include 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 lot of space. They’re positioned by drilling tight-diameter holes in the ground to a depth of 100-400 feet. Then pipes are driven into the holes and connected under ground to form the vertical loop. Next, more pipes are attached that carry fluid to the indoor system to transfer the necessary temperature from the ground.

When compared to a vertical loop system a horizontal system requires significantly more space but usually costs less considering it uses only 2 straight pipes set 6 inches in the ground over an area of ¼ to ¾ acre.

If you want a pond loop system, you obviously must be close to a pond, lake, pond, or well. Coils are installed vertically and fastened to the bottom of the water source. Water is then transferred through more pipes beneath the earth to a pump, where the heat is withdrawn and cool water is put back into the pond.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 decay and filters will need replacing often.

The key difference between open and closed looped systems is the open loop’s need for an ample source of groundwater, such as 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.

Used water is disposed 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.

Before you install 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 deplete a neighbor’s well source. Make certain you check with your local contractor on whether there’s enough water on hand to go ahead with installing an open loop geothermal heating system.