2013-06-12 / Front Page

Geothermal system finally cooling courthouse

by Jazz Clark

The geothermal system which provides heating and cooling for the Morgan County Courthouse using natural energy, which ran for just 48 hours in 2011, has now been running for the last few weeks.

“The system is carrying the entire cooling load for the building, even in 90 degree weather,” said Vince Cichocki, Facilities Director.

Using underground water from the nearby Warm Springs Run to heat and cool the building is fragile work, and several steps had to be taken to repair the pump.

Technology company VSystems disassembled the pump, cleaned the interior and checked for damage. A propeller on the pump was trimmed to better suit operating conditions.

As previously reported, a cable from the pump had snapped and went inside the system, causing damage right after the system was turned on in 2011. “Chewed up” bits of propeller were found inside the valves during repair.

While the pump itself is now functional, not all is well with the overall building control system.

While Cichocki can run the geothermal without incident in manual mode, automatic settings are too buggy until the system is reprogrammed. The system is currently shut down on weekends, when there is no one to monitor the settings.

When the water coming in gets to a certain temperature level, the automatic settings make the system turn on and off. This sequence is actually harmful for the pump.

Some of the control buttons and screen inputs don’t work, as well.

“It almost looks like programming was never finished for this part of the system,” Cichocki said.

He has already been in contact with the company who programmed the controls to have them fixed, and plans on giving another update at the June 27 County Commission meeting.

“I just want to be able to put all this behind us,” said Commissioner Brad Close.

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