Geothermal systems have become increasingly popular over the last few decades, as people look for more sustainable and energy-efficient ways to heat and cool their homes. But installing a geothermal system comes with a question that many homeowners ask: how long does a geothermal heating and cooling system last? T&T Plumbing & Heating, Inc. explains the average life expectancy of geothermal heating and cooling system components and what you can do to maximize their lifespan.
Geothermal System Components
To answer this question, it’s important to first understand what makes up a geothermal system and how it works. The main components include the ground loop, geothermal heat pump, and distribution system. Unlike an air source heat pump system that transfers heat between the inside and outside air, a geothermal heat pump system transfers heat between the earth and the home’s indoor air supply.
- Ground Loops: The ground loop is a series of underground pipes buried around the home. Water circulates through these pipes, absorbing or releasing heat from the ground depending on whether the system is being used for heating or cooling.
- Geothermal Heat Pumps: The geothermal heat pump is one of the indoor components of the system, which is responsible for transferring the heat from the ground loop to the home for heating, or sending excess heat from the home to the ground loop for cooling.
- Distribution Systems: A geothermal heat pump distributes heated or cooled air throughout the home through ductwork. Geothermal heat pumps may also use in-floor piping for radiant heating systems.
Life Expectancy of Geothermal Systems
The lifespan of the components of a geothermal system varies, but when properly installed and maintained, a geothermal system can last many years.
- Service Life of Ground Loops: Because ground loops are buried underground, they are well protected from damage, which helps to extend the service life of these pipes. Ground loops are the component of a geothermal system with the longest lifespan, with some systems lasting up to 50 years or more. However, this is heavily dependent on the type of piping used and the quality of installation. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) and cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) pipes have become more common in recent years due to their durability and resistance to leaks.
- Service Life of Geothermal Heat Pumps: The geothermal heat pump is the second most important component of the system. When properly maintained, a heat pump can last up to 25 years or more. However, regular maintenance is key to ensuring the longevity of the heat pump. This can include annual inspections, cleaning of the air filters, and ensuring the geothermal heat pump is properly charged with refrigerant.
- Distribution System Service Life: The lifespan of ductwork can vary depending on the material used and the quality of installation – typically, ducts can be expected to last 20 to 25 years. In-floor pipes for radiant heat distribution tend to last anywhere from 40 to 50 years.
How Does the Lifespan of a Geothermal System Compare to Other HVAC Systems?
In comparison to other types of HVAC systems, geothermal systems have a longer lifespan. Traditional HVAC systems, which use a furnace and air conditioner or air source heat pump, typically last between 10 to 20 years before you have to replace the unit, depending on the type of equipment. However, this lifespan can be extended with regular maintenance and repairs.
Geothermal heat pumps outlast other types of HVAC equipment for several reasons:
- Because they use minimal electricity to operate and don’t burn fossil fuels to create heat in the winter as furnaces do, this means less wear and tear on the system, resulting in fewer repairs and a longer lifespan.
- Geothermal heat pumps only have indoor components, unlike traditional split systems, which protect them from the elements and reduce exposure to debris and other potential hazards that can damage equipment.
- Geothermal heat pumps have fewer moving parts than traditional HVAC units, reducing the likelihood of equipment failure.
To extend the life of a geothermal system, regular maintenance is crucial. This includes annual inspections and cleaning of the air filters. It’s also important to ensure that the ground loop is properly sealed, as leaks can lead to a loss of efficiency and potential damage to the geothermal heat pump.
Repairs should be made as soon as any issues are detected. This can include fixing leaks or cracks in the piping, replacing faulty components, or repairing damage to the ductwork.
Install a Geothermal System in Your Home
Overall, a geothermal system can provide many years of efficient and sustainable heating and cooling for a home. While regular maintenance is necessary, the longer lifespan and energy efficiency make it a worthwhile investment for homeowners looking to reduce their carbon footprint and save money on energy bills.
If you’re considering having a geothermal system installed, contact T&T Plumbing & Heating, Inc. today to receive a quote on installation costs. Our team will design a geothermal HVAC system that will efficiently heat and cool your home, help you select the right geothermal heat pump unit for your needs, and provide expert installation so your new system lasts for many years to come!