Natural Health

Healthy living, herbal remedies and DIY natural beauty.

Add to My MSN

Well Drilled

8/23/2007 12:00:00 AM

Tags: geothermal

I’ve been to several homes that are heated and cooled using geothermal technology in the course of my travels for Natural Home, but I’d never actually had the opportunity to watch as the wells were being drilled. So it was great to visit the site of the Boulder home whose construction we’re chronicling and to get the inside scoop on what it takes, sometimes, to make a green dream come true. (Check out the video we just posted to see for yourself.)

The owner of the Boulder home was determined to make geothermal a reality—and that’s a good thing, because his site proved difficult. As project manager Ron Flax of Rodwin Architecture explained to me, Can-America Drilling discovered that the building site is on an old, very deep riverbed consisting of coarse gravel washed down from the Rocky Mountain foothills. As workers attempted to drill the loopfield for the geothermal wells, gravel fell back into the drilled hole as soon as the drill bit was removed. After a week of attempts, no progress had been made. The design and building team was ready to abandon the geothermal system entirely and began considering more conventional, if energy-efficient, systems instead.

But the owner insisted, and the team persisted. The geothermal consultant for the project, Jim Richmond of Radiance Corporation, found they could dig the wells using a top-hammer drill rig designed for water wells, which installs a steel casing while drilling and prevents the sides of the hole from collapsing. This required a collaborative drilling operation between Can-America and James Drilling, a water well driller, as water well drilling companies aren’t usually licensed by the state to drill geothermal wells.

Construction on the rest of the home continued while the drilling team figured out what to do, so some potential drilling locations were built over. To compensate for that, the design team reduced the overall building volume by lowering the interior height slightly and reduced the amount of glass in the house. These changes allowed the team to reduce the required size and number of loopfields to three holes, twice as deep. Can America Drilling was able to remove the steel casings after the loopfield piping and grout were installed, improving the system’s thermal conductivity.

The team pulled it off—the home will now have a much lower carbon footprint and a nice cushion against rising fuel prices. Next step: Insulated Concrete Forms.

Boulder Deconstruction: Geothermal Drilling Video 


Content Tools

Post a comment below.


3/19/2011 12:20:57 PM
I live in an area where geothermal wells are being drilled for heat. Even the city streets are plumbed to keep the snow down in some areas using the geothermal capabilities. However, as we are finding out, geothermal has some problems when there are small earthquakes that disrupt the pipes. Many of my friends have been left sitting in the cold after minor shakers. So while I believe in using this resource I also like the idea of a wood stove backup just in case mother nature decides to twitch!

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.