Common Geothermal Myths
Let’s face it – there’s a lot of bad information out there about geothermal heat pumps! The method and style of geothermal installations in Massachusetts are not necessarily the same as elsewhere in the United States or beyond. Here we hope to clear up some common misinformation about geothermal installations.
Myth #1: You need by have a fossil fuel heating system anyway to serve as backup.
This simply isn’t true. A properly designed geothermal system will provide all of the heating and cooling that you need. There is no need whatsoever to install a gas or oil boiler as backup.
99% of our customers completely remove their fossil fuel heating systems.
Myth #2: We can’t install geothermal systems in the winter.
The drill rig that installs geothermal borings drills right through bedrock. They certainly have enough power to drill through ice.
Trenching in winter can sometimes be difficult. The degree of difficulty depends on your geographic location and ground cover conditions. A few straw bails can keep the frost out of the ground long enough to trench within a small area. In Eastern Massachusetts, the ground usually doesn’t freeze more than a few inches.
Deep snow can be an issue for site access by the drill rig and support vehicles.
Transitioning from a fossil fuel, hot air heating system to a geothermal heating system is sometimes tricky in the winter as the heat may need to be off for 2 or more days and nights. A lot of coordination is required for us to make the transition as quickly as possible. We have encountered many homeowners who choose to tough it out by putting on some extra sweaters! In some cases it’s best to delay the installation until spring.
Myth #3: We can drill and drill and not reach what’s needed.
We have installed over 400 geothermal systems in Massachusetts and there has never been a situation where we haven’t “reached what we needed”. First, it starts with an understanding of how the underground components of a geothermal systems actually work.
Closed loop geothermal systems in Massachusetts are usually installed in 6″ vertical boreholes ranging from 250 to 600 feet in depth. The borehole is drilled right through bedrock which is usually encountered within 0 to 200 feet. Groundwater is typically encountered within this same depth range. During the heating season, these systems depend on heat being transferred from the bedrock and groundwater, through the pipe into the geothermal fluid inside the pipes, and then into the geothermal heat pump in the house. While groundwater improves the heat transfer
properties of the underground portions of the geothermal system, the presence of groundwater is not absolutely critical to the operation of the system.