How to Build Your Own Geothermal Heat Source

Written by alex burke
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How to Build Your Own Geothermal Heat Source
Dig into the earth's surface to locate a geothermal heat source. (agricoltura sporca image by AlessandroContadin from

Geothermal heat sources are not built but exist naturally inside the earth's layers of soil and water. Homeowners can tap into a geothermal heat source and use it to heat their home's air and water by building an underground piping system attached to a pump called a geothermal system. Using a do-it-yourself kit simplifies the installation of a home geothermal system but the advice and assistance of a qualified installer and estimator will be necessary to complete the job accurately.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Geothermal heat system kit
  • Tools to dig trenches
  • Tools to install the geothermal system, as required by chosen system
  • Fluid for piping, as required by chosen system
  • Electrician

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  1. 1

    Find a contractor trained to figure the proper measurements and installation requirements for geothermal systems. Qualified installers can be located through the Geothermal Exchange Organization.

  2. 2

    Obtain a site evaluation from the contractor that includes the type of geothermal system the site requires. The site evaluation should also include information about the quality of the soil, the availability of surface water and groundwater in the surrounding area of the home (known as the hydrology of the property) and the heat output required in the home. Site evaluations should also include information about the home's energy efficiency. An energy efficient home will use a smaller, less expensive pump.

  3. 3

    Purchase the correct geothermal heat system kit from a manufacturer based on the site evaluation. Choose a site-specific kit, one that has been customised for the particular needs of the property and required heat output.

  1. 1

    Dig the trenches needed to place the piping system. Follow the manufacturer's directions for proper width and depth of trenches.

  2. 2

    Lay the piping as supplied with the kit. Methods for laying the pipe vary with the type of system being installed. Follow all installation instructions that accompany the kit and refill the trenches after the piping system has been completed.

  3. 3

    Install the heat pump and connect it with the existing duct system found in the home. Electrical needs may vary with the product being used, so following the manufacturer's directions is important. Obtain assistance from a qualified electrician if you are unsure about what is required to complete the process.

  4. 4

    Connect the outside tubing loop to the pump as directed. Water to water systems will require an intermediate holding tank between outside tubing and the pump to store heated water for on demand use.

  5. 5

    Turn on the recirculating mechanism in the pump and eliminate the air by opening the correct valve as noted on the manufacturer's directions. Begin filling the piping system with the correct fluid. Some systems require only water, others may suggest a water and antifreeze mixture. Open loop systems using well water will not need this step.

  6. 6

    Test the system by setting the thermostat at ten degrees below the room's current temperature and turning the system to the cool setting. Test the heating by turning the system to the heat setting and raising the temperature ten degrees above the room's present temperature. Once the system is judged to be in good working order, choose the desired setting (heating or cooling), set the desired temperature and enjoy the geothermal system.

Tips and warnings

  • Ground installation will require either a horizontal installation (when lots of land is available) or vertical installation (when a small plot of land is all that is available).
  • Sites with existing ponds, lakes, creeks and wells can lower the expense because less tubing is needed to create the loop system.
  • Well or surface water geothermal sources will require the water sources to be near by, within yards not miles, and available to the homeowner.
  • Follow all electrical codes for the city or area the home is located in.

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