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Geothermal Heating and Cooling

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kmcconaughey

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After 26 years of burning firewood for heat I'm having a geothermal heating/cooling system installed. My house has a forced air electric furnace that was installed when it was built back in 1978. One of the previous owners had installed a forced air wood furnace so we have been mainly heating with wood. I installed a new wood furnace about 17 yeas ago. The forced air electric furnace has been down a few heating elements and it no longer puts out much heat when it does turn on. I want a reliable backup to heat the house when I'm not home and I can no longer trust the old electric furnace to do the job. Last fall my wife and I started looking into heating options and settled on Geothermal. It's expensive to install but it should have a much quicker payback than any other heating option. My only options are LP and I really didn't want a tank in my yard. Staying with electric but I don't like the cost of the heat. An air to air heat pump but that doesn't work very well when temps drop into the single digits and lower. There is no natural gas line anywhere nearby. So that left Geothermal. After getting a few quotes and selecting an installer we are on our way. I'll be keeping the wood furnace but wood will no longer be the main source of heat.

Thursday evening, April 19th, I used the 125 and QA42 to clear the snow from the area in the yard that they were going to drill from. I wanted to test the 125 anyway as it had an issue last Sunday when I was clearing the snow from the snowstorm. It ran flawlessly. Here's some photos.

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Friday, April 20th, three of the four underground loops were installed. The loops are installed with a horizontal boring rig. They are 15 to 20 feet underground. Tomorrow Monday, April 23, the forth loop and the tubing runs to the house will be installed.

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The drilling mud is kind of messy and they dug a shallow trench for it to flow to a hole they dug off in an area of the yard that isn't too visible. It'll get covered up when they are done. I know I'll have some landscaping to do later. When they finish drilling they have to dig a hole to tie all the loops together into a manifold and that refilled hole will be a mess to clean up as well.

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kmcconaughey

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The loops of tubing are each 300' long. Here's a couple of photos of the far end showing the end of the drill and the tubing that is pulled back into the hole.

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bbranstetter

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Wow, what a project! Hope it fits the bill for you Kraig.
 

kmcconaughey

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Brian, thanks. Yep, it's quite the project.
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The fourth loop is in and now they're working on drilling into the basement. Drill head is pretty much all the way there and the drillers have gone to rent a jack hammer to cut the opening in the concrete floor and I assume they'll be stopping to have lunch. Then they'll pull the tubing in. The two guys doing the drilling are great guys. One has a 1250 Cub Cadet that I believe he said was his grand fathers.
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eford

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Earl Ford
Wow is that ever a project! I'm sure it'll be worth it, will there be a problem if the power goes out? Only geothermal info I've seen is Mike Rowe on dirty jobs and this old House bits. Glad you're keeping the wood as a backup. I have a wood burning fireplace just for that reason. Haven't had to use in an emergency yet though thankfully. Great pics as usual Kraig!
 

sblunier

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Steve Blunier "Mr. Plow" (Central IL)
Horizontal Directional Drills are AWESOME tools!
 

rkelm

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Rodney Kelm
Kraig, that is awsome, the winery next to my place did geothermal and does all their heating and cooling of the processing and temp control of the storage and temp of the building. It has been going for about 10 years now and they really like it, they have solar as backup and power company electricity as backup backup. Hope it works as well for you.
 

kmcconaughey

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Steve, yes they are! It's quite impressive how accurately they can drill to. Here's where they drilled into the basement. Had the drill head almost there then jack hammered the hole in the floor, dug out the soil and pushed the drill head into the hole.

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The yard is a mess.

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Here's how the tubing all comes together.

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kmcconaughey

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After the tubing was all connected together they capped one of the ends in the house and added a pressure gauge and air fitting to the other end and filled it to just under 70psi and left it. This morning it was still at the 70psi. They are coming back this afternoon to check it and if all looks well they will back fill the excavation.

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sblunier

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Steve Blunier "Mr. Plow" (Central IL)
We do that with 16" steel gas pipe
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Hope they got under the footing tile ok.....
 

kmcconaughey

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Rodney, I would love to have a solar panel array that would power my entire house. Maybe someday. I have seriously thought about getting a smaller array and a battery bank to power my shed as a sort of test. Where I could really use solar panels is up at my families off-grid cabin. We use a generator to power that and we already have a battery bank with a 3000 watt inverter so the generator doesn't have to run all the time. Solar panels and a smaller wind generator would be ideal to cut back on generator (gasoline) usage.

Steve, yep no issues with clearing the footings or foundation. The main concern was clearing whatever it is that the garage floor drain empties into. There's some sort of drum or tank or concrete block enclosure with gravel in the bottom of it that is about 60" deep below the garage floor. They were able to steer around it. I can't imagine drilling horizontal for a 16" pipe.
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Back in the 1990's I worked for an environmental consulting company designing control panels for water treatment systems and did a bunch of field work helping drill monitoring and recovery wells. Biggest was a 14" recovery well dug inside a building with a cable tool drill rig powered by a Farmall engine mounted on skids. Looked like it was a home made rig. I wish I had taken photos of it (I would have had to sneak the camera in as the company prohibited photos taken inside their facility) digital cameras were not yet available back then either. I think it was made from a Farmall H but it could have been a different tractor model or even a factory built drill rig.
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It barely fit into the place just inches to spare. EDIT: The more I think about this the more I seem to recall that it was a Super C engine.

The tubing passed the pressure test and the excavation was filled yesterday. Unfortunately I had to work, fortunately my daughter had the day off and was able to get some action shots.
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My soil is very sandy, listed on the sol survey as a "sandy clay loam" there wasn't much top soil to save and due to the tight quarters where they were digging the top soil wasn't easily saved. No problem, I'll just get a load of top soil delivered, it'll give me an excuse to use the Original and rear grader blade.
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eford

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Earl Ford
Kraig that could've been just a dry well. My buddy had to install one in his new barn a couple years ago and it was 18"x48" then ran under the foundation to tiles outside. Just a thought. Nice that the holes are filled in now!
 

klindstedt

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Kevin Lindstedt
Very cool Kraig. Do you get any sort of incentive back from your public utility? Where I live the electric company offers a rebate on your install.

I'm with you on the solar power thing. Solar panels are still just a bit too expensive for me to pull the trigger and put in a bank of them. Someday...
 

kmcconaughey

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Earl, yep. The main concern was that they might fill/plug it up with drilling fluid which is a bentonite slurry which would NOT be good for drainage.

Kevin, yes $400.00 rebate/ton of capacity. It's a 5 ton heat pump so ~$2000.00. There is also a 30% federal tax credit on Geothermal installations so that will be another almost $9,000.00.
 

digger

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We thought about doing the same thing when the new building went up.
It gets pricey when you want to heat 16,400 S.F.
But the cheapest price we were quoted was just over $31,000.00.
I figure I can buy a LOT of wood for that kinda money!
 

kmcconaughey

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Charlie, the system I went with is costing me $32,660.00 before any rebates or tax credits. Should be $20,976.00 after the rebates and tax credit. Still:
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But I did splurge and got the top of the line system. Hopefully I made the right call.
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toconnor

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Todd O'Connor
Kraig, that looks awesome. I'm a commercial HVAC contractor but we don't see much geo stuff down here in Georgia. Our heat pumps work great in the dead of winter when we hit that ultra low temp of +20*. Keep feeding us the pics too.
 

kmcconaughey

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Todd, thanks.
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I took a BUNCH of photos, as you likely know, I love photos (note my user profile...) I will post more. The heat pump goes in tomorrow so I'll have some photos of that. I did consider an air to air heat pump but from what I've heard it wouldn't work very well when temps drop below 10°F.

For those that are curious, the heat pump is a Climate Master, Trilogy 45. It has variable speed compressor, variable speed pump and variable speed blower. Supposed to be one of the most efficient models out there. Also provides domestic hot water and for those that don't know it also provides cooling so I will no longer have the old A/C unit setting outside.
 

jchamberlin

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To back Todd up, down south air-to-are heat pumps are adequate for all but 3-5 days of the year.
Your system looks awesome, Kraig: just what you need for those cool Wisconsin evenings.
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Seriously, I applaud the investment. Wood is warmer, but it is a whole lot of work, even with a furnace that chews whole trees like Charlie's.
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I live in the bottom of a split-level house. The constant temperature of the earth below ground level is about 55 degrees Fahrenheit --year round! So using that constant makes a lot more sense than trying to cool 95 degree heat or better in the summer and your Wisconsin 10 degrees (or -10 degrees) in the winter.

Bravo!

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kmcconaughey

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Jeremiah, thanks. I'm looking forward to trying it out. I still have half a semi load of 8' logs to cut up, split and stack so the firewood processing isn't over yet. And I like burning wood. You can see the pile of logs in the background of one of the photos I posted earlier and here's the same photo zoomed in. I have today's progress photos I need to upload off of my phone, once that's done I'll try posting a few.

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