How to Maintain Your Home's Geothermal System

Geothermal HVAC systems have become very popular because they are highly reliable and require very little maintenance. About 50,000 geothermal heat pumps are installed each year in the U.S., according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE).

Geothermal systems use pipes buried in the ground to access an abundant heat sink in summer and an equally plentiful source of heat energy in winter.

How Geothermal Systems Work

Sometimes referred to as earth-coupled, water-source, GeoExchange, or ground-source heat pumps, geothermal heat pumps have been around since the 1940s. They use the earth’s relatively constant ground temperature, instead of ambient air, for their heat exchange.

Geothermal heat pumps can heat, cool, and, if so equipped, supply the house with hot water, just like any other type of heat pump. Even though installation cost can be several times that of a comparable air-source HVAC system, geothermal units typically return the additional cost within 5-10 years in the form of energy savings.

They are also quieter and last longer than air-source heat pumps. The average geothermal unit has a lifespan of up to 24 years for inside components and up to 50 years for the ground loops.

Maintaining A Geothermal System

Geothermal systems require very little maintenance, but what they do need must be done regularly by a professional HVAC technician with specialized geothermal training.

Routine professional maintenance checks for your geothermal system should include:

1. Inspecting Ground Loops and Check Fluid

The health of the underground pipe loops is crucial to system functionality, and their integrity must be inspected regularly. Damaged pipes can result in problems with other system components.

Ground loops are filled with either anti-freeze or a combination of anti-freeze and water. This fluid must be maintained above a certain level for the system to work correctly.

2. Removing Dirt and Debris

Dirt and debris can damage the external components of your geothermal system. The heat exchange and blower must be inspected and carefully cleaned. Given the sensitivity of these components, DIY cleaning by the homeowner is not recommended.

3. Inspecting Air Ducts

To maintain consistent and efficient airflow, air ducts must be cleaned, inspected, and repaired.

Self-Maintenance Recommendations

  • For maximum efficiency, use a wired thermostat (instead of battery-operated) and set it to “auto,” not “on.”
  • Change the air filter each month to avoid obstructing airflow.
  • Use air filters that match the system rating; if you need more air filtration, consider a whole-house air cleaner rather than a more restrictive air filter, which can harm the efficiency of your geothermal HVAC unit.
  • Check and clean condensation pans and drains to avoid blockage and overflow.
  • Don’t close inside vents, and make sure to avoid blocking them with furniture or clutter.

Rely on The Geothermal Experts

The professional service technicians at ABE Heating and Cooling are highly trained in servicing geothermal units. Contact us to schedule regular service appointments to keep your geothermal system in top condition. Located in Brighton, Colorado, we serve the entire Denver Metro Area.