Open Loop Problems?
Background: We moved into our house 3 years ago. It had an existing open loop geo installed, but it was failing and old. We replaced it with a Climate Master Tranquility 27 and kept it as an open loop system. The last 3 years, when the weather switches from warm to cold (and subsequently AC to heat on the geo), we receive an error 40 on the panel. Error 40 apparently means insufficient water flow. Service calls in the past remedied the issue and then error 40 never shows up again, for the entire winter!
Current day: Our system again shows error 40 and will not function (the compressor is held back from powering up). Our contractor was out twice testing the compressor. The first time, their lead tech says that it is definitely bad. Then, apparently the owner sent a second tech out a couple days later because if he was incorrect and did a warranty claim against a good compressor, he would have to eat the cost (I surely understand that!).
While the second tech was out, he was running the water as it comes out of our well and before it hits the geo. It ran for several minutes with tons of volume (well beyond 8 gpm). He stopped the test. He then tinkered a bit, and then ran the water again and we saw a lot of sediment coming out of the hose (I mean brown). But after a minute, it dissipated and the water was clear again. Note, the volume of water never changed; it was still screaming out of the hose the entire time.
I do not have water issues in this house. It's a very wet piece of property and if our well was running dry or with issues, I would see a lot of sediment in my house filters (the filters are not between the water source and the geo). They have the normal collection, but nothing of the nature in which we saw coming out during the test.
Problem: Now the contractor is saying that my compressor is fine and that my open loop is bad. I struggle to believe this, but not because of the cost. The logic doesn't make a lot of sense to me. When a call is made for heat, the geo runs through it's warm up and it fails with error 40 within 2 minutes of running. I have a large pressure tank and in 2 minutes, even if the system was at a full 8gpm, I don't believe the tank will have emptied and forced the well pump to come on. I do hear that it is possible to make sediment come out of any well if you do a certain number of steps (I am not suggesting at all that they did this on purpose).
There are 2 electronic valves controlling the flow of water (each does 4gpm). Are there sensors on these valves or within the system? How does it think that there is not enough water? Is there a lessor part such as a sensor that could be faulty? I truly believe that it is getting enough flow and there has been an inherent problem since the beginning that has not been resolved.
Any guidance is greatly appreciated. It's starting to get cold here. :)
Let me first start by saying, I am a Licensed well driller.
From what you mentioned about running the hose for several minutes. He may have been drawing only water from the Holding tank itself not the well yet. After he "tinkered" and ran it again the well pump have kiccked in and starting pumping from the well again. There really is not anything he could have done to force sediment to be drawn in from your well by "tinkering" inside on the Geo system. Wells may produce plenty of water for several minutes until you use of the capacity stored inside the well and it needs to then draw new water in from the aquifer, at this point the well may not be producing the same quantity of water it may have produced in the past. If your pump is drawing 15 gpm to fill your storage tank and feed geothermal, and domestic water useage and your well is only producing 13 gpm then you will see lock out on the geothermal system after severasl minutes due to insufficient water flow. There is a few things that can be done to rehab wells. You should contact the driller who installed the wells or another local driller in your area.
What he said, +1
Thank you for the replies and information. I wasn't suggesting that he was able to do anything to the water output, just depicting the situation where he took a break from running the water.
From my standpoint, this unit is only running at 4gpm with the weather we have right now. It fails very quickly when you make a call for heat; within a couple minutes. Let's say you've even gone 5 minutes; that's only 20 gallons of water and not enough to force my well pump on. Yet it fails. It just seems the math points to a problem other than the well.
Now for the sediment issue, I was just wondering how normal that is to have a burst of sediment from a well. It did clear itself up on its own and had no loss in volume.
I have another contractor coming next week to give me a sanity check on this.
Well tank info.
What is the brand and model number on your well tank?
A well tank that has a drawdown of over 20 gallon in between cycles would be a huge tank for residential useage. You could have a wellxtrol 202 tank which is classified as a 40 gallon tank but the drawdown between cycles is only 5 gallons at 40/60 psi.
I would have a well contractor come out now a HVAC as of right now.
Hello Dan. It's a WX-302 Pro. I had a sizeable one put in because we had an open loop geo and I wanted to extend the life of my well pump.
Thanks to Google, I show this for the tank: Drawdown (before pump kicks on) is 31.5 gallons with a 20-40 pressure switch, 26.4 gallons with a 30-50 pressure switch and 23.0 gallons with a 40-60 pressure switch.
I am unaware of what type of pressure switch is installed.
The contractor I chose to call in has access to several well contractors. I agree that the well should be investigated to validate it.
They seem correct to me for a wx-302.
Put even so, It still seems to sound like a well that is not producing like it may have in the past.
Your tank is not always FILLED. Some the pump will kick on after only a few gallons is used if the tank was on the low side of PSI when the system called for water.
You should take notice to the PSI guage( if it still works) when calling for water. The pressure switches are adjustable and can be set at any point for off and on pressures. If you notice the guages drop more than the usually 20 psi spread settings than you may really have a well producing insuffient water.
Dan, a quick update. My well was just tested and it's... perfect. He ran 500 gallons out of it over 30 minutes and it maintained 15gpm the entire time. The pressure gauge never fell below 38psi. There was no need to test it further. Yet, my geo still fails claiming lack of water flow after 5 minutes. My own tests and this latest update shows the problem is indeed with the geo.
Thanks for the guidance Dan; it's good to have this portion behind me. Now to tackle the geo. I have a different geothermal company coming tomorrow morning. Maybe I'll have heat this weekend. :)
That's good news (i guess). But you still haven't found the problem ( the bad news).
Hopefully it's a simple fix. Possibly the Taco ( or other brand) valve on the outlet side of the geo is a good starting point for diagnosing flow issues with open loops.
I hope you get it fixed soon, cold weather is on its way!
Dan, after all this troubleshooting, it ended up being a refrigerant leak. Out of 9 lbs, it was down 3 lbs. Once it was added, it ran perfectly. I am not happy that my installer couldn't figure out what I consider to be a rudimentary problem. It cost me $600 to have another outfit come in and start all this troubleshooting/maintenance from scratch.
This thing is still under warranty, I am almost 3 years into a 5 year parts/labor warranty. Although it is working, I still have a leak. I shouldn't have a problem like this with such a new unit. I expect Climate Master to cover all these costs.
I glad you got fixed it.
If it was a well issue it would have Cost more than $600 probably.