Sunday, December 16, 2012

Geothermal install

I find construction fascinating. You start with a bunch of pieces parts, magically (to me) put them all together and WA-LA you end up with something functional, useful, and sometimes beautiful.

Our house is at that age where it needs constant attention. The latest LARGE expense was new heating/air conditioning system. The system we decided to go with is called a geothermal system.  This system uses the constant temperature of the ground, 55 degrees, to heat and cool your house and also your hot water. Hubby and I fell in love with the concept so with our current system on its last legs we went for it.

We set up the camera for some of the processes and here is a detailed outline of how it works. You may find it boring but I am enthralled with the process. Plus I get to be toasty all winter!!! Most systems go with an electrical heat backup system for when it gets extremely cold here in the Midwest.We chose a hybrid system using a high efficiency propane furnace instead. I am extremely happy with that choice.

Let me just say it was a journey to get this project completed. When the project was bid out it was estimated to take 2-3 days. Well that turned into a 3+ week project!

First, here is what the old system looked like inside. You see the furnace, water heater and soft water system.
This tiny stump caused about a one week delay. When the well diggers were backing the truck into our yard, they hit this stump and tore out the underside rigging. I guess it was hydraulic hoses and other parts they had to order and repair. 
 Before the well digging started they well drillers had to prepare the yard by digging what they call ponds. These are basically big holes in the ground they fill with water to enable them to drill the wells. This next photo is one of the guys using a small backhoe to dig the ponds. For our installation they had two ponds. To me it was one giant mess.
While the well drillers were preparing the back yard the unit installers were preparing the basement. One day, I believe we had as many as 4 truck/vans in the driveway unloading new equipment and hauling off the old equipment.

Since the well drillers stalled out, we decided to go ahead and install the new high efficiency propane furnace and as much of the other interior work as was possible so when we eventually did the tie-in everything would be ready. The first day they got the old furnace out and the new one in.

I just had to take a picture of the guys hauling the geothermal unit down the stairs. It took 3 large strapping men to get that thing to the basement. It was heavy!
By the end of day 2, the inside installers had the hot water heater and the geothermal unit set and ready to hook up to the wells. Here is a photo of the geothermal unit and the water heater before all the pipes were ran and installed.

In order for the well drillers to feel productive, they went ahead and dug this huge hole in our basement floor. I was sure it would unleash all sorts of demonic spirits from below our house!  While drilling they used a gas-powered concrete saw and stunk up the whole house with exhaust fumes. Good thing hubby was home that day. He opened all the windows and set up fans while the drillers just kept on working with carbon monoxide detectors bleeping in their ears. I lost a bit of confidence in the drillers that day. 

After may setbacks we finally got the well drillers back on task and working on our drills. In this shot you can see one of the ponds on the left and on the right of the photo is where the other pond is going to be for the third well. All their equipment is up the hill in the neighboring lot in this photo.

This is another shot of the torn up back yard. Of course they did the work where our best grass was in the entire yard. Now we have a mud/clay mess.

Here is a shot of the backhoe doing more digging in the yard. The photos with the date/time at the bottom were taken with our critter cam. It is a great camera that takes photos based on heat sensors. That way we could watch the work being completed and not even have to be home. It worked out well for the days they were working and we were not here.

This next shot is one where the drillers were actually setting up the drilling truck to dig the wells. I wonder if he had any idea he was being photographed? :-)

This is another shot of the truck getting set up for drilling the wells. The truck setup took a while on each well. The actual wells getting dug did not take all that much time.

Here is a shot of the backhoe digging the ponds. The good thing about this project was that the fall was beautiful and no rain to slow the project down even further.

These next two photos are of the drilling truck. I had to include two because it was dangerously perched in order to be level for the drilling. I told them they should have dug out the hill to make it safer and they just said, "Oh that's a good idea but we almost have it now." I will let the pictures do the talking on how dangerous their setup was. At one time during the leveling process the truck actually fell off the blocks!!! I am so glad no one was under the truck and got killed.

Yes, three of the four tires were off the ground!

Here is a shot of some of the equipment and the famous truck driving all over our yard digging ruts in the yard.

Now we are back inside the house. Here is shot of the connector tubes coming in the hole after the directional drill was complete. The directional drill went from the vertical wells shown above into the house. They are precise to hit a 2 foot square hole.
Here is a shot in the basement before all the pipes were connected. It was a mess. 
Here is the final inside product. This first photo is the electric water heater on the left and the geothermal unit on the right. It also shows all the piping and electrical that is needed.

This photo shows the new furnace along with the old water heater which is now used as an extra holding tank that preheats the electric water heater water and the old water softener system. The exhaust for the furnace is now out the white PVC pipes instead of up the flu out the roof of the home. That has been capped off.

 I hope you have enjoyed the process of installing this system. Now to determine how well it helps save on our heating and cooling costs. The electric bill has increased over last year at this time but that is to be expected with more things running electricity. We do receive a discount rate for a heat pump system. The big test this winter will occur in January when we usually have a refill of our propane tank. I am anxious to see the savings at that time.

If you have any questions, please contact me. Thanks.

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