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Advice on supporting a geothermal and hydronic system

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mseifert9
mseifert9 Member Posts: 17
edited July 2023 in Radiant Heating
I have a geothermal and hydronic system installed about 15 years ago. There is no one in our area who can (or is willing to) service it, and the person who installed the original system passed away. A few years back, it needed work and with the help of @Zman (on this post), I was able to figure it out and added necessary hardware. I documented every wire and the overall system (schematic below and written documentation attached).

I have just sold my house and I am concerned for the new owners. It is working perfectly, but if there is a problem, how can they get support? I can consult and advise, but this is not the best long term solution. Are there individuals on this forum who would be able to provide support? Is this even a good idea?

I am not an HVAC professional, so I am unsure if my drawings are decipherable. Is my documentation sufficient for a skilled professional to figure out? I also have pictures of the actual wiring for each of the boxes, although the Taco SR503 looks a bit like spaghetti.

I live 2 hours from Spokane in the Idaho Panhandle (outside Sandpoint). Thanks in advance for your advice

The system consists of:
  • Geothermal Heat Pump - Climatemaster TBW060 (water to water)
  • Geothermal "ground loop"
  • Hyrdonics house loop
  • Hot water tank (buffer and heat exchange for the domestic hot water supply)
  • 3 Honeywell hydronics valves and a circulating pump
  • 3 Johnson Aquastats (domestic hot water, backup heat, & the main system - although I've determined that it is superfluous since the Tekmar ODR controls boiler demand.
  • Honeywell Redilink Wireless System w/FocusPro indoor thermostat & Honeywell THM5320R (EIM)
  • Tekmar 256 - ODR Boiler Control - the brains of the heating operation.
  • Taco SR503 Switching Relay
  • Taco ZVC403 Zone Valve Controller
  • Relay Switch - Allows switching between "winter heating" mode and "summer cool" mode.
** System Schmatic **



Comments

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,467
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    Did you contact ClimateMaster directly and ask for the area rep or dealers? The area rep usually knows people able to service their equipment

    There are a lot of hydronic systems in that area, certainly someone with hydronic skills could troubleshoot the system

    Im not sure how much you owe the next owner?
    They understand they are buying a 15 year old system?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • mseifert9
    mseifert9 Member Posts: 17
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    The Climatemaster dealer didn't install any of the hydronics or electronics. In the end, if the heat pump is the issue, then of course the dealer will come out. The Climatemaster is only 5 years old. I had to replace the original one. It's the rest of the system I'm concerned about because it has lots of parts, and it's doing the troubleshooting to determine what is wrong that is the issue. You don't want to pay 2 hours of travel time to Climatemaster techs to discover that a hydronic recirc pump is burned out. Worse would be an electronics issue.

    Yes they are buying a 15 year old system, but they are new to this kind of thing (from a warm climate) and they paid a lot for the house. I don't warranty it, but it is complex and I'd like to find a professional tech they could call upon to troubleshoot.

    I'm likely a rare homeowner who can completely figure out the system and maintain it on my own.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,241
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    I commend you for caring ❤ so much about the new homeowners.  Most people ask you to hide whatever you can just to get through the sale of the house..then, "..its THEIR problem! " is what they'll say. In any case, it appears you have done all you can do, which is educate them and get them involved 😉 Mad Dog 🐕 
    Erin Holohan Haskell
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,467
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    A quick search turned up 8 radiant contractors in your area

    Usually resort areas like yours with resort homes and $$ have radiant pros nearby

    Sandpoint hydronics
    DIWH
    High Mark
    Pend Oreille Mechanical
    central Radiant
    Promax
    Covenant
    Radiant Floor Service

    Are listed as hydronic/ radiant pros for your area

    Typically some underground contractors that don’t advertise


    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • mseifert9
    mseifert9 Member Posts: 17
    edited July 2023
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    hot_rod said:

    A quick search turned up 8 radiant contractors in your area

    Hydronics, yes. Geothermal no. Many of the names you listed aren't available to do this kind of work - the job is too small and they want new installs. For the ones who do repair, calling in a tech who has no experience with geothermal and asking to troubleshoot this system is an expensive headache.

    I've worked with Pend Oreille Mechanical and they have done the basic repairs to the hydronics. Anything involving the geothermal has proven unsatisfactory. The complexity of the electronics seems to have been too much for local techs to wrap their heads around. I gather the system deviated from the standard just enough to get outside people's comfort zones.

    Indeed, it took me many hours to deconstruct and reconstruct what is going on and many more hours using trial and error with the thermostat and a multi-meter to find the setting which got me the desired signals.

    Now that I know the system and have documented it, I have concluded that thermostats are obtuse. I haven't found documentation showing when the different terminals (e.g. "Y") are energized based on the many choices of "System Type". I suspect the techs don't have this info either.

    I also suspect there was a better thermostat for my system, but it would take a geothermal expert to be able to see the whole picture. That is what I hope to find.

    Fortunately the system works and I feel good passing it along. I'd feel better with a referral.
    Mad Dog_2 said:

    I commend you for caring ❤ so much about the new homeowners.  Most people ask you to hide whatever you can just to get through the sale of the house..then, "..its THEIR problem! " is what they'll say. In any case, it appears you have done all you can do, which is educate them and get them involved 😉 Mad Dog 🐕 

    Thank you. Selling a house is a delicate balance. We sell the dream, yet a used house has some reality which comes along for the ride. All appliances and electronics will eventually fail. I'm doing my best to educate so when there is the reality of an appliance breaking down, it is only a small inconvenience. It's how I hope to be treated by others.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,467
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    I had complex mechanical systems at my last house. Solar thermal add l and PV, wood fired boiler, 3 combi LP boilers

    Like you, I upgraded most everything and made color coded documents for piping and wiring

    Left my cell number for any tech to call

    Most  everyone wanted to rip it out and replace with a system the we’re familiar with, mini splits

    We have have good intention, but at some point the new owner gets to make the call

    a good refrigeration guy should be able to work on the geo , but…
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,886
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    Once you're away from the well side, geo is really no different than air to air. You have a water valve to prove open before the compressor starts, and a flow meter. That's it. Everything else is typical. 
    If the problem is on the well side, call the well company. 
  • mseifert9
    mseifert9 Member Posts: 17
    Options
    hot_rod said:

    I had complex mechanical systems at my last house. Solar thermal add l and PV, wood fired boiler, 3 combi LP boilers

    Like you, I upgraded most everything and made color coded documents for piping and wiring

    Left my cell number for any tech to call

    Most  everyone wanted to rip it out and replace with a system the we’re familiar with, mini splits

    We have have good intention, but at some point the new owner gets to make the call

    a good refrigeration guy should be able to work on the geo , but…

    Exactly - sounds like a very similar experience. The company who installed the geo should be willing to drive the 2 hours. I'll leave the phone number and then let it go.
    HVACNUT said:

    Once you're away from the well side, geo is really no different than air to air. You have a water valve to prove open before the compressor starts, and a flow meter. That's it. Everything else is typical. 
    If the problem is on the well side, call the well company. 

    Thanks for clarifying. I suppose it comes down to the tech's familiarity with the electrical components and ability to adapt to new situations.