Heat pump upgrades

Discussion in 'Real Estate General Discussions' started by 000, Aug 6, 2018.

  1. 000

    000 Senior UT Member

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    I own in a high rise building that uses McQuay HCA heat pumps from around 1990. I am looking to fully replace the ones in my suite with their modern equivalent.

    The top reasons being the originals are excessively noisy, difficult to maintain, and inefficient. In addition, McQuay discontinued this series of heat pumps so we have no OEM support and all HVAC contractors are limited to purchasing replacement parts from aftermarket suppliers with questionable quality. Those who have done this generally found no improvement over the original and some are experiencing additional defects (e.g. refrigerant gas leaks, compressor lock outs).

    Knowing this I don't want to go down the "retrofit" route. I spent the better part of the last year researching possible upgrades for vertical stack water source heat pumps and came up with a list of 10 from 7 different manufacturers. Of those I shortlisted Whalen due to their large install base in Toronto.

    At this stage I am trying to identify new buildings that have Whalen installed so I can demo their sound performance. I am also trying to get a quote from installers to do my project but it's been difficult since they never seem to have time to sit down with me and go through the fine details (e.g. part selection, noise control, plumbing, construction schedule, etc). I am hoping it will be easier once the summer is over.

    Has anyone else faced similar issues with their heat pump before and how did you deal with it?
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018
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  2. DSC

    DSC Senior Member

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    If I were you I would discuss your choice of heat pump with the HVAC contractor that your Corporation uses to maintain the main system (loop, boilers/.chillers and pressures). In my building we have one owner who recently bought a new heat pump and has had repeated problems with it; the Corporation's HVAC contractor was finally consulted and he pointed out that the heat pump installed was not designed to work at maximum efficiency with the kind of loop and pressure we have here!
     
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  3. 000

    000 Senior UT Member

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    I am aware of stories like that and I am making sure the new system matches the technical specifications of the original. There are devices to measure flow rate, in addition I was told by our building's mechanical engineer that our heat pump water loop runs at approximately 4.5 GPM. For buildings that have variable flow you can also purchase flow control valves to keep your supply flow consistent. I found out these types of details often get overlooked. I really need someone who will work with me and do a complete and thorough job. All companies I contacted are constantly busy with repairs and don't seem to have time for new installs. What companies do developers use to install heat pumps? My options seem so limited as a high rise home owner.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018
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  4. DSC

    DSC Senior Member

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    Since you seem to have selected a Whalen why not contact Whalen and get a list of approved installers? From their website they appear to have only one sales rep in Ontario - in Mississaugua. See: https://whalencompany.com/
     
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  5. 000

    000 Senior UT Member

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    I did contact Whalen and one of the reasons they came first is because of their excellent engineering and sales support. Some other manufacturer's I called for info on multiple occasions didn't answer their phone. The sales reps listed on Whalen's site are actually regional distributors that sell to trade, they won't do installations themselves. Emerson Swan Canada (formerly Air Mechanical Sales of Bolton) put me in touch with a large plumbing & heating company in the GTA but it was a dead end, they didn't want to get involved unless it was dead simple. They quoted me on what it would cost to install a 3rd party clone chassis (as other owners have done), probably a 1 hour job tops, but it would not solve most of the fundamental design flaws of the original system from ~30 years ago, amongst which there are many:

    1) The access doors are hard to open and scratch the drywall each time removed, so many owners forego filter replacement on top of regular maintenance
    2) An unsloped drain pan causes water to sit still and become prone to algae, bacteria & rust
    3) There is no overflow sensor in the drain pan to shut off the system and prevent a flood
    4) Excessive sound and vibration coming from the compressor and fan. There is a lot of extra work to be done to block or absorb sound compared to a modern system designed with acoustic isolation from the start.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018
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  6. doug

    doug Active Member

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    You keep referring to a compressor, and in other posts, a chilled water loop.
    It's one or the other, not both.
     
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  7. 000

    000 Senior UT Member

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    Every heat pump is capable of operating within a certain fluid temperature range:

    [​IMG]

    There is no chilling done on the supply line, that's only done intentionally on fan coil systems.

    In the summer our supply line temperature normally runs at 80F. On a hot day it can reach 90F. A cooling tower is used to reject excess heat outdoors and maintain a maximum supply line temperature. In the winter the system operates around 67F.

    Not every closed loop water source heat pump uses water either, it's usually a mix of water, glycol antifreeze and corrosion inhibitors. Efficiency is gained by using a low viscosity heat transfer fluid to minimize pumping costs and keep the lines free of scale and dirt build up.

    There are a lot small details like this that need to be considered and cannot be rushed, my biggest fear is a contractor that cuts corners and the job isn't done properly.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2018
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  8. 000

    000 Senior UT Member

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    I called Emerson Swan back today and they gave me two other installation companies I could try, I guess I'll see how this goes.
     
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  9. doug

    doug Active Member

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    A "cooling tower" is also known as a chiller.
     
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