discharge well erosion, need guidance

Discussion in 'Open Loop' started by milkweed, Feb 7, 2014.

  1. milkweed

    milkweed Member

    I purchased a home that touted an open loop (well to different well) geothermal setup using a Bard system. The discharge well has soil missing around the well head. I had assumed this was due to erosion. When I was contemplating purchasing the property, I had mentally wrote off the geothermal system and turned it off as soon as I got the keys to the property.

    Now I am contemplating what HVAC system / setup to replace it with. Before throwing out the open loop geothermal setup, I would like to investigate the discharge well erosion (assuming it is erosion) to see if it can be fixed, but I don't know where to begin or what key words / phrases to convey to potential companies to try to find someone qualified. There doesn't seem to be many companies that offer open loop geothermal systems in my area, at least that is advertised on their websites.

    I would like to be know a little of what I'm talking about, before I start making phone calls. As far as service calls go, I've had a few experiences with other issues (not HVAC related) where whatever company I was talking with at the time reassured me they deal with that sort of problem, but end up using it as a sales lead to rip out and replace.

    The seller of this property could not or would not tell me who did the installation, but they had a local HVAC company that happens to sell Bard geothermal equipment do a maintenance call, as reassurance to potential buyers that the system was operating as designed.

    There are three well heads on the lot, and one appears to be abandoned. None of the well drilling logs were registered with the state. Based on the upkeep of the house and what I know about the seller, I suspect they purchased the Bard equipment and installed it themselves.

    Should I call a HVAC company, or a well drilling company?
    What service am I asking to be performed?
    What about the discharge well or HVAC system should they be looking at?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Palace GeoThermal

    Palace GeoThermal Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    where do you live?
  3. waterpirate

    waterpirate Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Picture of the erosion?? Also if the system is turned on do you observe any standing water at the site of the erosion? Could be simple or major, we need more info.
  4. Calladrilling

    Calladrilling Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Where is this house?
    How big of a "erosion" is this your talking about?
    I would first run the geo system for a extended period of time to see if the erosion collects water in it or not.
    If it collects water then it's most likely (hopefully) a broken fitting at the wells pitless adapter.
    If it does not collect water, then I would tend to lean towards its a case of the wells grout/backfill settling and could be solved with a simple backfill of topsoil.
    They would be my first 2 thoughts..... They would be the simplest of fixes too. It most likely gets more complicated and expensive from there.

    Call yourself a good well driller in the area. Ask them if they work on open loop geothermal too.

  5. milkweed

    milkweed Member

    Beavercreek Ohio , east of Dayton
  6. milkweed

    milkweed Member

    I will get a picture. I don't recall seeing any standing water when I had it on.
  7. dgbair

    dgbair Just a hobby Forum Leader

    Why? How are you heating the place now?
  8. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    What bad thing do you expect might happen? Get a well driller to have a look, but writing off your geo simply means you'll spend lot's more to heat your home.
  9. milkweed

    milkweed Member

    I was concerned it may continue to erode, if that is the issue.

    We are having a warm week and the snow should melt completely, I will wait and get pictures then to post here.
    I looked into Dan's remark about the pitless adapter to get a sense of what to look for, if it is exposed, I will try to get a picture of it.

    Sounds like I need to hire an informed well driller, but will wait until I take a closer look at it myself, now that I have an idea of what to look for.

    We are heating the house with a pellet stove mostly.
  10. milkweed

    milkweed Member

    I should have been more specific. What I mean by "wrote off the geothermal system" is that I considered my offer for the house as though the house needed a functional HVAC system... Not that I want to rip this open loop system out, if I can determine the cause of the missing soil and it is fixable at a reasonable cost, then it is major plus. As far as my expectations were/are concerned, I set mine low so I won't be disappointed if it is going to be an expense to fix it or replace it.

    We are heating the house with a pellet stove mostly.
  11. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I am sure if you take a few photos we can give you a clue.

    If Dan is correct it could be as easy as a few bags on benonite and some sand.

    I could take a look if needed. We will work/look/consult anywhere in a 5 hour drive from Cleveburg.

  12. milkweed

    milkweed Member

    Here is the first of two images.

    It seems that the discharge well does not have a pitless adapter, but does have this nipple welded only 1 inch below the soil level.
    The water level was really high, probably because of all the rain and melting snow, so possibly there is a closed pitless adapter further down?
    There is no pump or electrical line in or run to this well.

    I pulled back the old foliage and discovered the discharge line wasn't even connected.
    The hose was too rigid to get it to flex enough to reconnect, so I unearthed more of the line until it was easily reattached.
    The line was 2 and sometimes 3 inches deep, which is rather shallow, or at least that seems shallow to me.
    The line runs "almost" entirely downhill, but I suspect there may be a lower spot 20 feet before the well.
    I noticed while unearthing more of the line that it travels in an arc from where it comes out of the basement, so there must me more line than is needed to reach the well.

    I am thinking of using metal host clamps, the kind with the screw used to tighten it, to try to secure the line to the nipple. Is this a good or bad idea?
    Alternatively, because the line is so shallow, I was thinking of digging it up and slightly adjusting its course to get the discharge line to attach to the entire length of the nipple.

    Even with the short length of hose that attaches to the nipple (and without a clamp), I attached it and turned the system on, and all but a steady drip pumped into the well.

    Attached Files:

  13. milkweed

    milkweed Member

    As for the erosion, it seems to have changed since last fall,
    it used to be very deep, but not very wide, only inches wide, and guessed about 7 feet deep.
    The picture isn't very revealing, but the hole is now about 20 inches across and about 30 inches deep, but
    at the bottom of the hole it goes off in three directions, which you can't see from the picture.
    I'm not sure how far it extends in those three directions.
    I have one of those inspection cameras, and will go out there tonight or tomorrow to see if I can get an idea of how big those side holes are.

    Supposing those holes are not big, do I just backfill with topsoil? or with sand or bentonite clay?

    What is the purpose of bentonite clay on the outside of a well?

    If those side holes or long, does that change how to fill them in?


    Attached Files:

  14. Calladrilling

    Calladrilling Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    What a make shift connection to a discharge well!
    I would seem to believe the hole around the well is caused by the discharge 1" poly pipe not being connected to the casing at all and allowing full flow from the geothermal system to discharge on the ground instead of back down The well.
    Now that line may have popped off from ground settling and not having a hose clamp on it or from the discharge well clogging up and back pressure popping it off.
    You should just fill the hole in the clean fill dirt if it's not too big. If it's deep and surrounding the well casing, maybe a bentonite fill would be better ( state requirements may need this option).
    You should also have a qualified well driller come out and inspect the full system to see if the return well needs to be cleaned and hooked back up correctly.
    Good luck
  15. milkweed

    milkweed Member

    Agreed! Its stuff like this that I mentioned earlier that "Based on the upkeep of the house and what I know about the seller, I suspect they purchased the Bard equipment and installed it themselves."

    The little I read about bentonite clay is that it resists the flow of water.
    So is the use of bentonite clay around a well casing intended to prevent the casing from being lubricated and shifting?

    If the erosion is just the visible area, and I backfill it with soil,
    does the direct contact with soil cause the well casing to corrode quicker?
  16. Palace GeoThermal

    Palace GeoThermal Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    bentonite is mostly used to seal the borehole to prevent water from moving up or down the bore.
    waterpirate likes this.

Share This Page