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Old 05-31-12, 12:27 PM   #101
kwfiggatt
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Talking pumping grout?

Hey folks - the threads on DIY GSHP and well drilling have been great. I am working (very slowly) on my own drilling rig, somewhat similar to Vlad's. I'm using a hydraulic top drive with an inline swivel that I've built myself. These posts have been awesome - thanks so much for everyone sharing the info.

I've noted the problems with pumping grout down the hole to back fill once the loop pipe is in place and wanted to bounce an idea that I've had off of you guys. I was planning on using an old hot water tank (or other pressure tank) that can be filled with grout then air pressure applied from my compressor to force the grout out of the bottom of the tank down the tremie pipe. I'd have to weld fittings on it for the grout outlet and a fill port on the top. It should be able to reach pretty decent pressures (~100psi) for the grout. How deep do you think this kind of pressure would push grout?

I understand the hazards of running with a pressurized tank, and plan on hydrostatically testing the tank to at least 2x my operating pressure before using it - I do not want a bomb!

A pressure pot sandblaster could be used (harbor freight $109 for a 40# model) if you do not want to deal with welding on a pressure vessel.

The only drawback to this type of rig that I see is that it'd require relatively frequent filling of the tank to get the hole full of grout. What do you folks think?

Thanks!

Kevin

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Old 05-31-12, 01:12 PM   #102
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kwfiggatt, welcome. Your idea sounds interesting as I am also at the stage of grouting and have already figured out how to drill the boreholes. I suppose the easy part of it all.

The information that I gained from Vlad's grouting experience was that the problem he had with grouting was pulling up the hose that is full of grout. If you used a 1-2" tremie tube and pipe down 100ft, you must have a way to support all of that weight and also to be able to pull it up.

Vlad only went down 50-55 feet, but said he struggled with getting the tremie tube stuck and then trying to pull it up. I wanted to go down 200', but Vlad said it would be hard to grout. We discussed making a roller drum with a motor or crank to pull the tremie tube up when dispensing grout. Simular to one of these:



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Old 05-31-12, 03:30 PM   #103
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Please note that I have added some additional photos at the end of my PREVIOUS POST that concern Vlad's grouting equipment.

Best,

-AC
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Old 05-31-12, 09:12 PM   #104
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Vlad, thanks for the hard work, ingenuity and inspiration! AC, thanks for the excellent journalism covering an important topic! Glad you guys were able to get together. How's the healing process going, AC?

My drill rig won't be anywhere near as heavy duty as Vlad's and hopefully won't encounter anything but clay, sand & light gravel at the depths I am planning to drill. I found online some geo survey well reports covering my area that gave great info on what to expect.

It is great to see someone build equipment that can give megabuck commercial systems a run for the money! I got my auger, auger head and 5 standard and carbide drag bits last week. Gotta find the time to build my rig & start sinking holes & posting pics!

Craig
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Old 06-01-12, 01:43 PM   #105
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Here's a post I put in the Heat Pump Manifesto thread, but it also belongs here:

AC, I remember somewhere you made a post in this manifesto considering extra pipe surface area in your ground loops by having the pipe make an inverted U at the top, sending the pipe back down the borehole again to a second U at the bottom of the borehole before returning to the top. I don't think that will work well at all-you will never be able to purge all the air out, and even if you did, any future entrained air or gases that come out of solution will form a bubble that will act like a reverse plumbing trap, stopping or severely limiting flow in that loop! This is how bubble circulation pumps (interesting in their own right-see HERE ) work.

After realizing just how versatile PEX is while purposely torture testing then reheating it during my radiant floor installation (details HERE ), I think a better idea is to have a form, such as 2" thinwall PVC, that can be lowered into the borehole. Slip the appropriate return length through the center, heat the pex to make a Ubend at the bottom, then wrap the PEX barberpole style along the outside of the form. Space it out as there is no need to wind it tight-1/2' pex could wrap about 575 times around a 30' length of 2" PVC for a loop length of 480 feet!!! This would be an easy way to avoid pipe welds or connections down the hole while increasing pipe surface area and effective heat transfer due to turbulence in the pipe. Regular 3/4 poly flow is pretty stagnant at the boundary layers because the flow is slower. You can flow almost 1gpm through a 1/2" Pex loop before you get significant head loss if your loops are less than around 300ft.

I feel this will work for depths up to 50 feet before handling the pipe gets unwieldy. Looks like most of us doing boreholes without a professional well driller won't be going deeper than that. Now the only limiting heat transfer issue is the borehole field itself.
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Old 06-02-12, 04:12 PM   #106
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Old 06-07-12, 05:33 AM   #107
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AC thanks for coming and making all posts about drilling. It is definitely helpful for many people. Our life just makes us sometimes keep going non stop and it is hard to find extra time to share with others.

There are most of the specs for most of the components I used building the rig just few posts ago.

I made couple of changes and will post pictures and info about them.

Last time I grouted holes I didn't pump water out from holes before grouting. I didn't notice a big difference in grout pump performance. But it makes more mess around.

I tried some coarse sand for grout and it compacted inside the pump making it impossible to pump. The sand I used before was washed river sand (fine).

The diaphragm pump that I use for grouting is pumping line pressure (120-130 PSI). This pressure allowed me to pump grout (more liquid then mortar for laying bricks but harder then just cement slurry) through 1 1/2" flexible PVC pipe up to 70'. I tried longer pipe but it didn't go.

This is just an idea what to expect when you start grouting. I think drum with grout and just air pressure is not a good idea. I think the best way to grout is to buy or build a plunger pump. You don't need huge volume but definitely need 200-250 PSI for grouting. With high pressure you can use smaller diameter tremie pipe for grouting. Because using 2" tremie pipe @100-150' depth will make it impossible to pull it out from hole. You can even break it while pulling it out. I think something like this might work:

http://www.chemgrout.com/050m.htm

Drilling is really not a big deal. Grouting is real pain. For this reason I decided to drill only 60' but with 15 holes I will get min of 4 ton capacity.

Last edited by Vlad; 06-07-12 at 05:51 AM..
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Old 06-07-12, 06:09 AM   #108
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mobile Master Tech View Post
Here's a post I put in the Heat Pump Manifesto thread, but it also belongs here:

AC, I remember somewhere you made a post in this manifesto considering extra pipe surface area in your ground loops by having the pipe make an inverted U at the top, sending the pipe back down the borehole again to a second U at the bottom of the borehole before returning to the top. I don't think that will work well at all-you will never be able to purge all the air out, and even if you did, any future entrained air or gases that come out of solution will form a bubble that will act like a reverse plumbing trap, stopping or severely limiting flow in that loop! This is how bubble circulation pumps (interesting in their own right-see HERE ) work.

After realizing just how versatile PEX is while purposely torture testing then reheating it during my radiant floor installation (details HERE ), I think a better idea is to have a form, such as 2" thinwall PVC, that can be lowered into the borehole. Slip the appropriate return length through the center, heat the pex to make a Ubend at the bottom, then wrap the PEX barberpole style along the outside of the form. Space it out as there is no need to wind it tight-1/2' pex could wrap about 575 times around a 30' length of 2" PVC for a loop length of 480 feet!!! This would be an easy way to avoid pipe welds or connections down the hole while increasing pipe surface area and effective heat transfer due to turbulence in the pipe. Regular 3/4 poly flow is pretty stagnant at the boundary layers because the flow is slower. You can flow almost 1gpm through a 1/2" Pex loop before you get significant head loss if your loops are less than around 300ft.

I feel this will work for depths up to 50 feet before handling the pipe gets unwieldy. Looks like most of us doing boreholes without a professional well driller won't be going deeper than that. Now the only limiting heat transfer issue is the borehole field itself.

This is cool idea but you have to make sure you seal the PVC pipe properly. I mean you have to fill it with grout. Also grouting outside of PVC pipe wrapped with pipe is going to be a project....

I would use HDPE DR11 pipe instead of PEx for some reasons:

1. HDPE is cheaper

2. HDPE is weldable

3. HDPE DR11 has thinner wall and its heat transfer characteristics are much better then PEX.

Last edited by Vlad; 06-07-12 at 06:13 AM..
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Old 06-20-12, 03:59 AM   #109
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I have finished drilling part of the project about a week ago. Now looking back I can say it was fun.
I learned a lot of new things. I do agree with AC that people just limit themselves without even trying something new.


I have many projects in my mind but this one is very important for me because I tend to quit long and complicated projects. So this time I said to myself I have to finish this one whatever it takes.

As I said before I started thinking about geothermal heating about 2-3 years ago. I checked my ground loop options and realized that the best option for me is vertical loop. I called local drilling companies and figured it out that drilling part is well over 20K(in real life you should double what you hear).

Just like in many other situations I said "I can do it myself". I started googling and found that DIY drilling is possible but you need something to drill with. My options were

1 buy drilling thing.
2 build drilling thing.

1 buy one had some options:

a buy real rig. Even used one is too much money for DIY.
b buy toy rig. Some of them are not bad but again too much money. Unfortunately in 5000$ range I only could find real toys.

This toy rigs usually have:
1.5 hp gas engine. It is not enough for drilling.
2. reduction gear. Can spin only one way not like hydraulic drive. You need to have revers.
3. water swivel that restrict good water flow. This is the most important part in drilling rig. The more water you can circulate the better.
4. 1" drilling pipe. 1" pipe is a joke. First of all it is too weak for drilling, second you will never have good water flow.
5. toy drill bits. With this bits you can only drill sand in playground.

So after collecting enough info I decided to build my own drilling rig. One day I found video on YouTube:
I liked the way this rig was built.

My plan was to build a good rig that can drill, drill everything I needed and sell it after to somebody who wants to DIY drill water well or install a geothermal loop.


In 2010 I started building drilling rig. My original budget was 3000$. Just like always you will spend more then you think. I spent about 4500$.

I tried many hydraulic and engine options(including 5hp electric motor 220V). Finally I found as I think very good and reliable combination.

Building the rig and drilling was kind of process. I added and changed many many things. Even when I only had 5 holes left I decided to add one more detail that allowed me to lift up drilling pipe without running the main engine.

As I said in earlier posts I decided to drill 15 holes 60 feet each. At the end I was very confident that I could easily drill 120-150 feet holes and even dipper.
But I already had 60' holed drilled, so I decided to keep drilling the same depth.

I came to the point where I could drill 60 feet hole in 40 minutes.
This is not bad at all for DIY drilling. Experience experience experience....

Now some key points for somebody who wants to build drilling rig and drill his own well.

1. Frame. The bigger the stronger the heavier the better. My frame is made of 7" steel profile all welded and bolted with 1/2" bolts.

2. Water swivel. If you can find and afford buy professional swivel. This is the most critical part in your drilling rig.
I found and bought professional swivel that will last for many years everyday use. It has full 2" water pass.

3. Drill pipe. Don't go with less then 1 1/2 pipe. I used 2" pipe and I think this is just right. It is very strong and allows very good water flow.

4. Pipe couplings. I used 2" steel high pressure hydraulic couplings. They very expensive but will not crack or strip threads.

5. Drive. Go with hydraulic drive. Drilling is not an easy job. Hydraulic drive allows you do spin your pipe in reverse. This is very helpful when you add
more pipe.

6 Engine. For drill drive use 13-15 hp engine. I used 15 hp engine. I converted all my gas engines to run on propane or gasoline.

When you drill on the same spot and you have 2 engines running you have a chance to poison yourself with CO.

I was drilling 5-6 hours on propane and didn't even have headache. It is interesting fact to drill 15 holes 60 feet each I only used about 30 liters of propane(less than 25$).

This is very economical. But again I used propane for safety reason (CO poisoning) and not for saving more on fuel price.

7. Mud or water pump. You need good quality water/trash pump. I used Gorman Rupp - 80 Series pump and 6hp Brigs engine (propane converted). The bigger pump the better circulation.

8. You need some sort of winch to lift drilling head with pipe. I used 12V winch 3000lb rated. It is a bit slow but enough for DIY. Hand operated winch will make you sick.

In my previous posts you can find most of the specs for components I used. AC even put video on YouTube showing drilling process.


I don't know how many hours I spent building my rig I guess few hundred hours. It looks easy but It all takes time.

Now I can say I finished drilling all 15 holes a week ago and I only need to connect them all together. The weather this year is just horrible rain after rain.
I need a week of good weather before I can start digging tranches and connecting all loops together.

If somebody wants more details about drilling rig please ask your questions.

If somebody needs my rig please send me your offer via a message system. I will include everything you need for drilling and grouting(drilling rig, mud pump, grout pump, hoses...)

Last edited by Vlad; 06-20-12 at 04:10 AM..
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Old 06-20-12, 02:07 PM   #110
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Vlad,

Excellent write-up.

Congratulations on the well-drilling goal, and good luck on joining up your loop field. You have some pretty good tools, so it should be pretty straight forward.

What does your hole pattern look like, and how do you intend to join up the wells? I assume you will use some kind of series/parallel setup.

When you purge your system, you'll need a minimum purging velocity. As I recall it is something like 2 linear feet per second. So keep some pump that is able to deliver sufficient volume to give you 2 ft/min minimum in your pipes.

HERE is a trade publication issue that addresses GSHP loop issues. Their intention is to sell you stuff, but you may find something that is actually DIY-useful. As I recall, they recommend a 'home run' setup, with each well running back to a manifold which has separate flow gauges and valves, just like your radiant floor manifold. It makes purging simpler, and balancing easier, but the real advantage (for them) is that they get to sell you more the hardware. You might be able to dream up a hybrid setup that would give you most of the advantages of easy purging and loop balancing with less hardware.

Best,

-AC_Hacker

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