I usually can recognize the professional drilling contractor when I drive up to a drill site, and see that the driller and his drill crew are wearing hard hats. It has nothing to do with drilling or grouting, but it has everything to do with safety, image and professionalism. It’s also an OSHA requirement. If OSHA shows up at a drill site, expect the company to be fined heavily if the employees on the site aren’t wearing their hard hats. Putting on their hard hats after OSHA arrives is too late. I wrote a previous article on being proud to wear your hard hat, but I think few people took it seriously.
My article this month is about grouting. In my travels, I see contractors who
follow the state and county regulations on grouting, while others are just
determined not to follow the rules. Some state and counties have ridiculous
requirements, while others are reasonable. Many of the regulators in charge of
regulating the grouting don’t know what’s involved in the proper grouting,
abandonment of wells, or grouting geothermal loops. Many regulators don’t want
to learn proper grouting methods because they are the regulators. State
regulators should be required to attend schools on proper grouting methods and
materials; many couldn’t pass the most basic examinations on the proper
grouting requirements in their state. However, there are a few regulators who
want to learn, and who attend drilling and grouting classes at the state,
regional and national well shows.
One geothermal contractor was fined several thousand dollars for not properly
grouting loops on a specific job. I wasn’t able to get the whole story, but was
advised that the contractor topped off the loops with gravel. That’s definitely
not proper grouting.
Some drillers could not care less about grouting holes properly, while others
want to protect our ground water. I see contractors with the most basic of
equipment who do an excellent job of grouting, while others have the best
equipment and don’t know how or care to grout properly. There are drill
operators (non-drillers) who tell me that they are grouting loops to the bottom
when anyone can see that they only are running the tremie line down the hole
five feet. These people don’t know how to grout properly, or they just are
I was overseeing a geothermal job recently, and each time the contractor
grouted a loop, the driller would top off the proceeding holes as the grout
receded. That’s a driller who cares and wants to do the job properly. Most
drillers are competent and want to do the best work they know how, while a few
only consider it a job.
I urge you to keep up to date with the regulations by attending your state well
drilling shows when possible, as grouting regulations won’t get any
Porky's Hole Thoughts: Professionalism and Grouting
February 1, 2011