Water Furnace worth fixing?

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  #1  
Old 03-31-05, 11:47 AM
jansenrpi
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Water Furnace worth fixing?

I have posted my tails of woe before but rather than add to that thread I will start a new one.

With the help of a service expert I have determined that my 2 stage ATV057A (5 ton) unit has the following problems

1) Stage 1 does not start the compressor. I know this because Delta T air is zero and delta T water is negative (e.g. stage one circulates water and my heat exchanger warms my water field ....slightly). I will try to trace that down tonight? Any suggestions?

2) Stage 2 is severely underperforming. It is producing about 37k btu (delta T air 25.6 degrees and I get that number assuming 1850 CFM which is what the manual says it is....I don't have a good means of measuring it but supposedly it is controlled to hold this flow rate).
Some have suggested this might be a charge issue. The heat of extraction is about 27k (10.5 GPM and a 5 degree delta T on the water side).

3) I am running 28 degree water (plus 10% methanol obviously) out and getting 33 degrees back out of my 6*150ft bore fields. Some say this is to be expected after the winter season but it seems to me that if I were able to get the unit up to 5 tons and then turned on the other 2 ton unit that is supposed to keep the upstairs warm (gave up on that one because its ducts leak like a seive and I have to triage my problems), I wonder how frozen that field would be. I have been burning the gas-ventless fireplace a lot to help the lame Water Furnace but don't like that as a long term solution.

4) My service guy charged me $45 for 3 units of methanol to re-pressurize my water loop. He did not say on the bill what the 3 units are (I am an engineer and this gets under my skin). Can someone comment on what he probably put into my system and why it might be so expensive (e.g., is it some sort of super pure form that really is more expensive than the methanol that you buy off the shelf for a couple bucks a gallon????). I don't mind paying people to do stuff but I need to know if I am dealing with someone that is taking the opportunity to raise the bill given all the work I have left to do potentially with this system. He charged me for 3.5 hours of labor to:
1) take some data on the delta T's and the flow rates
2) open up the heating coil (after which time he handed me a brush and asked me to clean it)
3) spray some anti mold stuff (DIRTY SOCKS) on the coil (charged 5 bucks for those couple of squirts)
4) pronounce my Heat pump O.K (he thought the numbers I quoted above where First stage numbers....he now agrees that they are not O.K numbers for 2nd stage)
He was actually at my house for only 2.5 hours? Is it customary to add an hour or did he just make a math error? In talking to the guy he has been extremely helpful and lets me work with him (which I like) and he has even "loaned" me some equipment to run some additional tests on my system but I guess I am wondering if these numbers seem out of line. I believe him to be an honest man and am almost hoping that someone out there can tell me that though this bill seemed inflated ($350) it is not out of line for the service delivered.


O.K. Those are my problems. I assume the stage 1 is a IC or wiring problem. Not cheap but finite. Charge is also probably not cheap but finite. If I need to redrill or add to my water bore fields big numbers set in. If I need to replace the 12 year old Water Furnace more big numbers set in.

Might switch to oil under that scenario but I am wondering if anyone has any insight based on the new information I am providing about my system.

If I did replace the Water Furnace, what is the best system out there? WF has a 10 year warranty. If I read Econair right it is a 2 year warranty. I have heard they are the best cold climate heat pump but 2 years is pretty small for such a large investment.

Thanks,

Ken
 
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Old 03-31-05, 12:13 PM
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Might look into DX Geo go http://www.amgeo.com and get away from that water.


ED
 
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Old 03-31-05, 02:50 PM
jansenrpi
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Can you explain what is different about American Geothermal, the link you pointed to?

I followed the link and I get concrete mixing equipment in Tenessee. I am in NY
 
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Old 03-31-05, 03:35 PM
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I just left clicked on the link and it took me straight where Ed was referring to. Try doing it by just clicking on the link. Good luck.
 
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Old 03-31-05, 05:15 PM
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They have a 800### there on the www. talk to them if you want. Now what is Geo DX. you have like pumps there and a water heat exchanger that pump the water or mix around the ground then into the heat exchanger to make the Geo you have work .
Now on a DX geo its like you just took the condenser off a out side unit for a heat pump and just go and dig a hole and put it in then cover it up. No water pumps now no water to freon heat exchanger

I wont say yes or no to this but on of the adds say .In 98 average monthly heating and cooling bill was $25.83 thats up in Minnesota. A test home for Tennessee U average annual heating and cooling bill $310.

What can I say with what you are haveing to go throught there could talk to them.
I have like put the condenser coil of a unit in the lake and it worked,good as a heat pump. I like anytime I dont have to mess with water pumps and a heat exchanger in a home or in a boat. You know Ill bet that there are more geo heat pumps and AC in boats than there are in homes today.

good luck
ED
 
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Old 04-01-05, 06:24 AM
jansenrpi
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Thanks Ed and Magakdragon

I go get to a site so the link is not a problem. However when I get to the site every subsequent link is about cooling equipment for concrete mixing. I will call the 800 number that Ed is mentioning but I always like to learn something about the product before I hear the sales pitch. Not saying anything about this particular company but sometimes, once you contact a company's sales department they can be hard to get rid of thus the interest in information.

If I understand you, Ed you are saying that they remove the water loop and run the freon/coolant loop out into the ground directly (or into a lake). I am kind of surprised the EPA doesn't have a problem with that. Also, at least for the ground systems, heat transfer to the ground is really quite poor (standard dirt is something like R=5) so ground loops are usually very long on water systems like mine (6x150 ft) and thick (1 1/4 inch pipe). That is a WHOLE lot of freon (if liquid at 40 degrees F that is 230 gallons or 2451 lbs....if vapor it is 32 lbs).

While there may be some improved heat transfer with the freon I think if you are directly exchanging heat with the earth it is going to be a long loop. Your example of burying the condensor would not work because it is sized based on a big fan blowing air over it which exchanges heat much more efficently than conduction to the ground. Certainly, throwing the condensor in a pond would work much better (natural convection with water is WAY better than conduction into dirt)

O.K. enough on that, I will call them.

Any comments on the other issues raised in the post?

I confirmed last night that the Circuit board is fine (it is sending a signal to the contactor....to be specific it gets 24v across its control lines at the time stage 1's compressor is supposed to come on) but the contactor is not engaging. Hopefully this is a commodity part so I can just change it out myself. Yes, I know I am dealing with 240 V and a WHOLE lot of amps so the circuit breaker will be thrown before I pull off the contactor.

Anybody know if the ATV057A had commodity contactors or if I have to have WF authorized tech for this?

Thanks,
 
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Old 04-01-05, 10:43 AM
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On that relay for the compressor does it get 24 V to pull in and it dont. Then yes any relay can replace it "like same" . 24V coil and if single or 2pole "definite purose" contactor.
Take it with you so you get the right one that looks close to it, it will work you dont need a WF relay to do the job.

ED
 
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Old 04-08-05, 08:04 PM
jansenrpi
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Well I guess there are not too many people out there that want to comment on such a long list of possible questions/issues. Thanks Ed and Majikdragon again for your comments/suggestions.

I did get the stage 1 working after ordering a new coil online.
Initially it growled pretty loud but I again GOOGLED growling contactor and found out that I needed to take greater care cleaning the "E shaped metal pieces that generate the magnetic force (pulling the plunger down) when the coil is energized. My old coil was shorted and melted (who knows for how long) and some of the melted plastic was left on the metal pieces. Once I scraped it off, sanded it down, and re-assembled it, the growling stopped.

The bad news is that stage 1 underperforms just like stage 2. Stage 1 produces less than 2 tons of heating (about 23k BTUH) and Stage 2 still limps along to produce a little over 3 tons (37k BTUH). The water temps are getting better so I am suspecting more and more that I have a bad freon charge. I was rather surprised to hear from my Water Furnace Rep that the be best action was to drain all the freon out and add exactly the right amount. He seemed to suggest that you could not tell whether it was under charged or over charged any other way. Does this make sense?
 
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Old 04-09-05, 10:18 AM
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I am suspecting more and more that I have a bad freon charge. I was rather surprised to hear from my Water Furnace Rep that the be best action was to drain all the freon out and add exactly the right amount. He seemed to suggest that you could not tell whether it was under charged or over charged any other way. Does this make sense?
The only way Id say you have to take the freon out and put new in .Is if you have R410a in this set up . Then yes you do for sure take it out and but all new in. R410a is a mix of freon . So if you have a leak small or other wise. Its not the right freon anymore.

ED
 
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