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  1. #1

    Is trench excavation typically included with a geothermal install?

    I am looking to have a geothermal system installed in a new construction house I am planning. I have found a contractor that I like, and I personally know 3 people that have used this contractor and were happy. My only hesitation is that the contractor does not do the excavation themselves. They require that I arrange for an excavator to be there when needed, and I would pay the excavator separately. My concern is that it seems like an important part of the system, and in the contract they are essentially claiming no responsibility for anything dealing with the excavation. I've coppied the wording below, eliminating the contractor name:

    XXXXXXX(we DO NOT use sub contractors to install earth loop) shall furnish and install complete earth coil andconnect to said heat pump system and between heat pump and hot water heater (supplied by others) if hot water option selected. GENERAL CONTRACTOR/OWNER shall provide excavation and rough back-filling. XXXXXXX shall not be held responsible for damage to trees, shrubs, grass, underground cables or pipes, settling, etc. within loop excavation areas. If soil is determined to be unacceptable (rocky), sand bedding shall be provided & installed by others. GENERAL CONTRACTOR/OWNER shall be responsible for staking out property lines and any areas not to be excavated. GENERAL CONTRACTOR/OWNER shall provide finish grade, raking, & seeding.

    Is it typical for a geothermal installer to leave the excavation to the customer and not deal with it themselves? Should I be concerned with this at all? Other than this, they have been very responsive, and like I said, come with good recommendations. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Don't do it!

    If your system doesn't work as it should who will you blame? The ac company will say it is the well digger or trench man and he will say it is the a/c company. You don't want to be in that position.

  3. #3
    I spoke with the contractor about this and it looks like I misunderstood the contract. All it is saying is that they are not responsible if there is damage to trees, underground cables, pipes, etc during the excavation. They are completely responsible for ensuring the piping is installed in the ground correctly, and that it works right when installed and after installation. They warranty the piping install along with everything else for 5 years, and the pipe itself is warrantied for 50 years against manufacture defect by the manufacturer.

    He said the reason they don't do the digging, especially with new construction, is that you already have one excavator working there. And while he may have to come back out to do this digging, he still would already know where other things are buried, which reduces the chance of accidentally digging something else up which was done by a different excavator. That all seems to make sense to me, so I feel much more comfortable now.

  4. #4
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    That's not what the wording says. If you sign that, you are bound by the print in a court setting.
    Political Correctness, the language of wussies.

  5. #5
    I think that is what it is saying. They are saying that they are responsible "for damage to trees, shrubs, grass, underground cables or pipes, settling, etc. within loop excavation areas." Nothing in there says they aren't responsible for the proper installation of the piping or the proper functioning of that piping. They're just not responsible for anything else around the digging area.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueWRXPride View Post
    I think that is what it is saying. They are saying that they are responsible "for damage to trees, shrubs, grass, underground cables or pipes, settling, etc. within loop excavation areas." Nothing in there says they aren't responsible for the proper installation of the piping or the proper functioning of that piping. They're just not responsible for anything else around the digging area.
    GENERAL CONTRACTOR/OWNER shall provide excavation and rough back-filling. XXXXXXX shall not be held responsible for damage to trees, shrubs, grass, underground cables or pipes, settling, etc. within loop excavation areas. If soil is determined to be unacceptable (rocky), sand bedding shall be provided & installed by others.
    ...
    GENERAL CONTRACTOR/OWNER shall provide finish grade, raking, & seeding.
    This lower quote says:

    - YOU are responsible for the digging and back filling.
    - The geothermal contractor is NOT responsible for damage done
    - YOU shall provide a stable, rock-free bedding
    - YOU shall finish the top of the trench

    What happens is that they come in and lay the pipe, then verify operation (ideally). Once you complete the job any operation after that falls on YOU. They want all the easy work and none of the liability that comes with the job.

    This is going to turn out bad for you. It'll be finger pointing when it goes wrong, and the judge will wave the paper in your face and say, "did you not understand what you signed here?"

    Hooking up pipe is one thing, knowing how to properly cover and protect it is another. The responsibility of knowing how to properly finish an HVAC job is not your purveyance, nor should it be.
    Political Correctness, the language of wussies.

  7. #7
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    Portland OR
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueWRXPride View Post
    I spoke with the contractor about this and it looks like I misunderstood the contract. All it is saying is that they are not responsible if there is damage to trees, underground cables, pipes, etc during the excavation. They are completely responsible for ensuring the piping is installed in the ground correctly, and that it works right when installed and after installation. They warranty the piping install along with everything else for 5 years, and the pipe itself is warrantied for 50 years against manufacture defect by the manufacturer.

    He said the reason they don't do the digging, especially with new construction, is that you already have one excavator working there. And while he may have to come back out to do this digging, he still would already know where other things are buried, which reduces the chance of accidentally digging something else up which was done by a different excavator. That all seems to make sense to me, so I feel much more comfortable now.
    This is exactly how we do it to, we do not do any excavation because...
    A there are setup costs associated with bringing equipment out so you save money by using the guy on the jobsite.
    B You don't have two excavators fighting over things on the site
    C The on site excavator knows where he already dug trenchs, septic is installed, property lines etc.
    However we do provide full consultation so we meet with the excavator, stake out the trench and ensure the ground is good before laying pipe. Once the pipe is laid we very the backfill material to ensure there is no issue with the pipe. We also guarantee the performance of the loop because once we have designed it and checked the soil we know it will work.

    How many companies out there sub out not only the vertical drilling but the loop design as well, yet HVAC-Marc you say you wouldn't trust a guy doing all of his own loop except the trench? Every excavator and geo company that does excavation that I have ever worked with has the same wording in their contract and also includes "unforseen objects in ground will be billed at Time and Materials, unforseen objects include any objects larger than 2' by 2'. Excavator also not responsible for any unmarked underground utilities"
    Every excavator I know will charge the homeowner if they break a pipe that is not locatable and that the owner did not tell them about. You have nothing to be worried about if the system is guaranteed to perform and the company verifies the trench before and after install. This is just standard operating procedure.
    Check out my YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/skyheating1 We have customer testimonials, product reviews and more!
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  8. #8
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    Here is my geothermal addendum... Ask me why I have each one of these items in here lol.
    GEOTHERMAL ADDENDUM:
    Trench for ground source heat pump loop to be provided by builder or homeowner. If you would like Sky Heating to
    provide the excavation we can provide that service at an additional cost.
    All excavation is based on utilities being marked by homeowner or locates, any unmarked utilities will be the
    responsibility of the homeowner/builder.
    Digging underground is an unknown and while it is rare occasionaly the excavation can hit bedrock or larger boulders
    that can not be moved and an alternate path needs to be made to get the required ground loop in the ground, any
    changing of the trench from specified path will be at an additional charge if necessary.
    Sky Heating will make its best effort to keep the costs at the pricing above and it is very rare that difficulties will
    arise. If needed Sky Heating can design multipe styles of ground loops to better accommodate the property
    or any unforseen difficulties underground. Our standard trench is a 5' wide 5' deep trench with a 6 pipe racetrack
    ground loop with trench length designated by the size of the system and heat loss of the home.
    Any boring or drilling shown in the proposal is an allowance, Sky Heating will connect you directly with the driller
    or boring company. Typical charges are $5.25 per foot for horizontal drilling and $20 per foot for vertical drilling.
    Drilling is not a guarantee and as with excavation, unforseen objects may chage the price if rock or unstable ground
    is hit during the drilling process unless otherwise specified. Any geotechnical data that can be provided on your
    property will help the driller in their assesment. Sanitech LLC is Sky Heatings preferred driller for horizontal boring.
    The above ground source(geothermal) heat pump is not to be used for dry out of a home. The manufacture will
    void the warranty if the system is used for any type of dryout or temporary heat and Sky Heating will not start up the
    system until the house is close to final completion. We recommend Home Certified for your home dryout needs for
    flooring, paint and other processes in the home that require specific temperatures or humidity conditions.
    For all homes a manual J load calculation is performed. The manual J has specific design considerations to verify
    the BTU requirement for the home, the only area that we have to guess on until the home is complete is the
    infiltration number or Air Changes Per Hour(ACH) we sized based on 4 air changes per hour at a CFM50 test.
    This means that we will guarantee that at the thermostat your house will heat to 70 degrees on a 24 degree outdoor
    air temperature and will cool to 74 degrees based on a 96 degree outdoor air temperature.
    Each and every WaterFurnace geothermal heat pump is custom built for your home at the time of our order so there
    are no returns allowed once the equipment has shipped from the WaterFurnace factory.
    Check out my YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/skyheating1 We have customer testimonials, product reviews and more!
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkyHeating View Post
    How many companies out there sub out not only the vertical drilling but the loop design as well, yet HVAC-Marc you say you wouldn't trust a guy doing all of his own loop except the trench? Every excavator and geo company that does excavation that I have ever worked with has the same wording in their contract and also includes "unforseen objects in ground will be billed at Time and Materials, unforseen objects include any objects larger than 2' by 2'. Excavator also not responsible for any unmarked underground utilities"
    Every excavator I know will charge the homeowner if they break a pipe that is not locatable and that the owner did not tell them about. You have nothing to be worried about if the system is guaranteed to perform and the company verifies the trench before and after install. This is just standard operating procedure.
    If I was a homeowner, and not having my own digging equipment like I do now, I'd expect a full service installation. It would be OK that the HVAC guy subs it out to HIS guy, the responsibility of the complete, working system still falls on is shoulders. I would not want to be expected to do half his job for him - digging, bedding, and refilling. Even here, finish work is usually not included, so that's no big deal.

    If the homeowner refills and beds wrong, what's going to happen? I'll tell you, the hvac guy will say "not my problem, worked when I laid the pipe."

    Really though, the problem lies in what the customer has written before him, what he thinks he understands, and what the hvac guy is verbally telling him. They are all different but what counts is what's written.

    Sidebar - we have one major Geothermal company here who does everything - though they sub out the well work because they dont have a drill rig.

    I like your addendum, it provides the option for a complete installation start to end, but does not dump responsibility on the home owner.
    Political Correctness, the language of wussies.

  10. #10
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    2x2 isnt really that big.

    Name:  uploadfromtaptalk1400784110911.jpg
Views: 156
Size:  203.3 KB

    The last one i moved was 4 feet x 3 feet x 9" thick, granite slab.

    - Sent via ESP
    Political Correctness, the language of wussies.

  11. #11
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    Nice picture!
    Yeah we just put 2X2 because we shouldn't have ANY issues with it but... you never know its usually the VW sized stuff or bedrock that causes the issues, but we have done plenty of New Construction jobs with random excavators and not had an issue yet(knock on wood). Most issues come with the builder by not sealing the home well enough so we have 8 ACH on a new home, or a plumbing pumping the well pump backwords so it looks like our geo water heating is not working or a builder who poured a slab wrong so they had super high humidity that was blamed on the leaky radiant piping lol.
    Check out my YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/skyheating1 We have customer testimonials, product reviews and more!
    Like us on FACEBOOK if you like our advice here!

  12. #12
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    I know what you mean. Sometimes it's easy to point a finger at someone else when they make such an obvious blunder.

    Our geology is old shallow seabed with glacial till above. The granite boulders and slabs are quite common here from the glacier debris. Bedrock depth varies between 1 foot and 20 feet and is mostly shale. We do have one small 6" layer of slate between 6 and 10 feet down. I forget the exact term for what it's named.

    The smaller creek beds here have torn up layers of what used to be silty shoreline. I have slabs that show snail tracks, turtle prints, and other shoreline creatures set in stone. I even have a few large pieces of fossilized trees, one about as big as a normal piece of firewood.
    Political Correctness, the language of wussies.

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