How to protect your yard during a geothermal installation

A question that often surfaces before a homeowner decides to sign a contract with a geothermal installer is how the installation is going to affect their yard.

Many homeowners invest in their landscaping and take pride in it. While some damage to a yard is inevitable during an installation, there are some practices that homeowners can encourage their geothermal well driller or installer to follow in order to keep yard damage to a minimum.

Before selling a geothermal system, many contractors will show homeowners pictures of yards from their previous installations. This shows homeowners the reality of the fact that very heavy equipment and drilling rigs will be coming onto their property.

Equipment like this often leaves tire tracks in the yard, the depth of the tracks depending on the make-up of the soil. After the equipment and drilling rigs are in place, the drilling begins and the cuttings from the drilling are pushed up the borehole to the surface.

Nature plays a role in the amount of mess caused from a geothermal installation. One of the major causes of yard damage during a geothermal installation is from the run-off of mud and water. If soil conditions are dry and underground water is scare, there can be a relatively small amount of run-off water and mud at the surface. Messy drilling conditions can occur when a drilled borehole encounters an aquifer or large amount of groundwater. This groundwater can sometimes travel up the borehole and spill into the yard.

Choose the right contractor

Galen Beachy from Yoder Geothermal has a lot of experience with geothermal drilling projects and offers some advice to homeowners about yard damage caused from installations. He says that before choosing a driller for your geothermal system, you will want to make sure they will do everything they can to use as little area as possible. This keeps their mess to minimum.

In addition to encouraging your well driller to keep their area to a minimum, there are some equipment options they can use to minimize damage as well. While they may be an additional charge, vacuum excavators and haul-aways can be used to remove mud and run-off water from your yard. DJ from Dragin Geothermal says that while there will be some mess no matter what, you will want to find a contractor who uses a cyclone diverter to help if  minimize damage. If you are looking for geothermal in Pennsylvania checkout Allied Well Drilling

Loop design and location

One factor you will want to consider when thinking about protecting your yard is the loop configuration you will choose. There are several different loop designs and horizontal loops, vertical loops, and directional loops are the most common. The loop configuration that often causes the most damage to yards is the horizontal loop field. To lay loops underground in a horizontal pattern, the use of a backhoe is often necessary to dig trenches that are several hundred feet long. While a backhoe may still be needed to dig the pit to tie the geothermal loops together and bring them to the home, vertical and directional loops either go straight down or at an angle. There will still be drill cuttings, mud, and water at the top of the borehole, but long trenches will not have to be dug for the individual loops.

While the contractor plays a large role in deciding where to install the geothermal loops, you as a homeowner can have input in this process. The contractor may know the best location as far as navigating equipment, installing the loops, and bringing the loops to the geothermal unit, but you can offer opinions on different locations or steer them away from areas of your yard that you care about.

Some yard damage from a geothermal installation cannot be avoided, but after the grass grows back and the area is back to normal, you can know that underneath your yard lies the most efficient heating and cooling system available. By choosing a well driller that will keep their area to a minimum, talking with your contractor about optional equipment, and deciding on your loop configuration, you can help minimize the damage caused from your geothermal installation.

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