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Geothermal: Making gains locally

February 27, 2013
Times Leader

GLEN DALE - When the Cockayne Farmstead was built 150 years ago, the latest "green" technology was used in the home's heating and cooling systems.

Strategically-placed windows, attic dormers and doors for ventilation and light, fire places in every room, and a wrap-around porch each helped keep the 1800s farmhouse as comfortable as technology at the time could allow.

Today, the new direction in "green" climate-control technology is being installed at the historic farmhouse to help protect the home and its collection of family artifacts that span three centuries. A geothermal system was chosen as a "green" method to control not only the internal temperature, but most importantly, the humidity inside the home, in order to protect the contents from deterioration.

Article Photos

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A drilling rig bores into the gravel-filled soil for the installation of a geothermal climate-control system in the Cockayne Farmstead in Glen Dale. Workers from Dillan Well Drilling Inc. of Darlington, Pa., maneuver the drill to place pipes more than 300 feet deep.

What makes geothermal so attractive is that the primary source of heating and cooling is taken straight from the earth.

Sid Loudin of Rumer-Loudin Inc. of Barnesville, whose company is installing the system, said a geothermal climate system uses the constant temperature of the earth below the depth of 11 feet to both heat and cool a building. The system circulates water through u-shaped pipes - called "wells" - buried in the earth. The water in the pipes picks up the area's constant ground heat of 52 degrees Fahrenheit, and transfers the heat to a freon compressor system through a coaxial coil. The freon gives up its heat to an air stream that is fed through a building via duct work.

The system reverses the process to cool the building in the summer.

In the case of the Cockayne Farmstead, the duct work is being run from the attic down through the chimneys. The mechanical room housing the compressor is housed in the farm's second floor bathroom, and the pumps circulating the water have been installed in the house's cellar. A steam humidifier will control the moisture levels that are critical to protecting the furnishings and other contents.

The area's geography has meant that the drillers for the project, Dillan Well Drilling of Darlington, Pa., have had to drill down 320 feet through ancient river rock deposits to bedrock to construct the "wells" on the north lawn. Loudin said the project is drilling four wells that are deeper, so the project's "footprint" on the north lawn is smaller. Once the pipes are placed in the ground, a grout-like material is injected around them to assure the pipes have contact with the earth to transfer the heat.

Loudin said his company's experience with geothermal systems goes back to 1990 when their first system was installed. His family has had a geothermal system in their home since 1992.

Funding for the project has come, in part, through a federal Transportation Enhancement grant and through a Cultural Facilities Capital Resources Grant awarded by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

The Cockayne Farmstead was once part of a 300-acre merino sheep farm that spanned both sides of Wheeling Avenue from the Ohio River to the hillsides above John Marshall High School. The farm's barn once stood on the present-day site of the school's field house.

The city of Glen Dale took its name from the property, which originally was known as Glendale Farm.



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