Hampton Library Hires Company To Replace Geothermal System

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The Hampton Library in Bridgehampton is looking to convert a faulty geothermal heating system into a customized closed loop system, according to library officials.

The geothermal system was installed during a $6 million renovation and expansion project that started in September 2008. The system, which cost $592,582 to install, was chosen because it would be green and energy efficient.

This week, library director Kelly Harris announced on the library’s website that the library’s board of trustees has hired Melville-based H2M Architects and Engineers to convert the system, which stopped working in August 2013. The problem, she said, is that large amounts of iron, which were not present in the well water when the unit was installed, are causing the system to malfunction.

“After speaking with professionals involved in geothermal systems, including engineers, well companies and HVAC specialists, it became clear our problem is unique in how quickly and dramatically iron fouling occurred,” Ms. Harris said in an email statement last week. “We have been diligent in our actions to find out why the system failed and researching the best way to fix it.”

A geothermal system works by using the ground to keep the water needed for the cooling and heating system at a constant temperature. According to Ms. Harris, the library’s failed system pulled water from a source well before being returned to one of two return wells on the premises.

“The moment the system failed, the board of trustees and I put a plan in place to make sure we had heat in the building this winter and no disruption of service to you, our patrons,” Ms. Harris posted online. “We are currently looking at options to cool the building if this winter ever ends.”

“We are at a loss as to how rapidly and why the system failed. The quality of the water in the well fouled quickly when the iron level spiked and ultimately clogged the machinery,” Library Board President Elizabeth Kotz said via email.

This week, Ms. Harris said the new heating and cooling system will utilize the HVAC equipment already installed in the library. However, instead of drawing the water necessary to operate the system from the well, it will pull it from a closed-loop evaporative cooling tower to eliminate the possibility of iron affecting the unit. Ms. Harris declined to say how much the system will cost to repair, explaining that the final details of the contract with H2M have not been settled.

While many details about the project are yet to be decided—such as how it will be paid for and when it is expected to start—Ms. Harris said she plans to host a meeting at the library when more information becomes available. She also encouraged patrons to check the library website, hamptonlibrary.org, or a new twitter feed, HamptonLibraryHVAC, which she said will be updated regularly.

“The patrons and the members of Bridgehampton and Sagaponack communities are our first priority, and we will make decisions carefully and conscientiously,” Ms. Kotz said. “As soon as there is a plan in place, they will be the first to know.”

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