27 Apr

Drill, Baby, Drill: The Dirt on Geothermal Installation

Dirt Left After Geothermal Installation

One of the factors to consider when choosing a geothermal heating and cooling system are the ramifications of the exterior installation requirements. Unlike traditional systems, there is quite a bit of work that needs to be done outside the home to place the lines in the ground that are needed to carry the liquid that runs to the compressor inside the house. The photo here shows a simple illustration of where the holes were drilled in our yard, 200′ deep and 10′ apart. (Geothermal systems can also be installed horizontally, or in pond or open loop systems, but in our situation vertical loops were the best option.)

In addition to the holes that are drilled and the dirt and rock debris / dust that result from the drilling, a trench must be dug to connect the pipes that carry the fluid through the ground loops. The trench, at 4′ deep and 3′ wide, creates quite a mound of dirt that needs to settle over time. To prevent damage to the pipes, the dirt should not be highly compressed or compacted on top of the pipes.

We considered the damage that would result from the drilling and trenching equipment, and decided to remove the sod from a 12′ by 38′ strip of our front yard prior to the work. We rented a sod cutter from Home Depot ($50 for four hours) and invited a few friends over to help. A time lapse of the sod bustin’ is below:

Now, as our friend Jill pointed out, we’ve moved our front yard to our backyard, as the 456 square feet of sod are sitting on our driveway on the side and behind our house as we’re in the process of water jetting the remaining dirt before replacing the sod.

The other photos in the gallery below show some of the drilling and trenching process. It really did create quite a mess for a few days, as the drilling produced dust clouds that settled over everything in our (and our immediate neighbors) yards. And, as you can see in the photos, there’s quite a bit of excess dirt to deal with, which, in our situation, is very clay-like and  currently soaked from a weekend of heavy rains.

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