A perspective on state regulators visiting job sites. 

State regulators in many states are out of control. There are people unknowledgeable about geo systems, well drilling and water systems writing unreasonable regulations and passing laws on what they know very little or nothing about. It’s putting qualified contractors out of work or making it hard to do their jobs legally.

In one state, a licensed well driller only can install vertical open loops and grout them. The driller must have a H-2 or H-3 heating license to install and fuse the horizontal lines, install the circulator pump, purge and test the system. However, nothing is said about having to be IGSHPA-certified (by the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association). Most of the closed-loop system products only are warranted if installed by an IGSHPA-certified individual.

Most heat and air contractors want nothing to do with the closed-loop part of a system except for determining the tonnage of the total loop system. Qualified geothermal contractors have a computer program that determines the exact loop system requirements. They know the geo system, while the closed-loop driller knows the water end of the geo system.

The regulators are trying to make the loop installer an air conditioner contractor (H-2/H-3) responsible for the whole system installation. That’s just not right!

Another state is requiring drillers and pump installers who weren’t grandfathered in to take a six-day vocational drilling and pump school. Some of these installers have been involved in drilling or installing and servicing pumps for 10-plus years. There aren’t many people offering this school, so Porky is offering it.

Don’t misunderstand me; there are good, qualified state regulators out there who are trying to write and enforce acceptable regulations that we can live with, but they are few. Those few regulators understand the basics, and at least have been around a job site to observe a complete installation from start to finish.

I wrote a story about a year ago about a state regulator who came to a job site, wrote up the operator for an offense, saw an uninstalled geothermal loop (on the ground), then said that he had to go. I asked him, “Aren’t you going to watch the loop installed and grouted?” His response was that he had other places to be. This regulator never had seen a geothermal loop installed or grouted, had the invitation and opportunity to watch it done, yet he had somewhere else more important to be. Needless to say, this regulator still never has seen a complete installation.

Drillers, pump installers and qualified plumbers (who install/service pumps): Get involved. Write to your senator and your governor, and voice your concerns. Otherwise, in the future, you, the contractors, will be few, and the regulations will be many.