Recently, IGSHPA has announced that they will be creating a separate certification for drillers, called an “IGSHPA Accredited Drillers Certification“. The certification will be separate and given alongside the tradition the traditional IGSHPA Installer Certification.
To address the many questions we’ve been receiving from students regarding the IGSHPA Driller Certification, we asked the instructor Peter Tavino to answer a few.
Here’s what we want to address about the differences between the two certifications from someone who has taken both and runs a geothermal company.
What’s the difference between the installer certification and the driller certification. Should I take both? Why did IGSHPA split them?
Many of HeatSpring students are sending themselves or their employees and sometimes it’s been confusing for them to figure out which one to go to and can paralyze their decision making process. What advice do you have for these people?
What will a contractor walk away from the course understanding about drilling? Yes, it’s focused on the ground loop, but so what? How will this training make their business better?
What is the story behind the creation of the driller certification. Why was it created? What does it specialized in teaching? What will a contractor walk away from the course understanding about drilling?
Enter Peter Tavino. Note: you can read more about Peter’s credentials here.
1. What’s the difference between the installer certification and the driller certification. Should I take both? Why did they split them?
The certifications are more closely related to each other than they are different. Both certifications provide the successful candidate with the official geothermal credential required to do their work properly. Both provide IGSHPA membership, a certification diploma and a wallet size identification card. Each allow listing on the IGSHPA web site, where clients and others can verify who the installers or vertical installers are in their home state.
Just as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) has specialty categories such as Interior Design versus Maintenance & Operation versus Homes, so too does IGSHPA recognize well drillers and related professionals as “geothermal specialists”.
Classroom time is efficiently spent on borehole drilling issues, instead of heat pump specifics, which do not pertain to those without an HVAC license. IGSHPA heard from and understood that drillers want to focus on drilling issues mostly, and developed this workshop in response to them.
For accredited installers who wish to gain more knowledge in the outside loop field, they can achieve both credentials. Although a vertical installer would not normally then become an accredited installer unless a new interest develops in interior HVAC work.
Design professionals who strive to become Certified GeoExchange Designers would do well to understand all the aspects of the drillers course in preparation for the CGD.
Lastly, all the conversations that pop up during coffee and meal breaks are drilling related. No longer need a driller sit by politely as the latest desuperheater hook up techniques are discussed, when they could be hearing how another driller handled an unexpectedly large groundwater discharge on a tight property. And although a national program, the workshop and classroom chat will be geographically oriented. New England drillers for instance, will focus on the heating benefits of ground source energy, where residential cooling becomes a “gimme”. While those drillers below the Mason Dixon line focus on the capacity of their earth mass to accept heating btu’s rejected from the air conditioned buildings.
Of course the basics of a heat pump are explained so that a driller can tell a customer how the refrigerant moves heat instead of makes heat. IGSHPA marketing materials are included. And the instructor can answer questions about what’s happening after the piping has been placed though the concrete wall by the vertical loop installer.
2. Many of HeatSpring’s students are sending themselves or their employees and sometimes it’s been confusing for them to figure out which one to go to and can paralyze their decision making process. What advice do you have for these people?
Companies who enroll a candidate may have others from the company audit the course at a significant tuition discount. They may or may not purchase books and manuals, and would not pay for nor take the exam. The enrollee who passes the test will have his or her name and company listed on the IGSHPA web site, so the sponsoring company benefits too. Drillers or administrators who audit the workshop experience hands on heat fusion, and can learn geothermal fundamentals without having to be certified.
3. What will a contractor walk away from the course understanding about drilling? Yes, it’s focused on the ground loop but so what, how will this training make their business better
Although drilling companies often attempt in house training for their new people, the results can often follow the telephone game we played as children. The message that starts at one end of the group gets changed radically after many people have interpreted it. This can lead to unnecessary attention to items that don’t matter, and lack of quality to issues that do. Saving time by understanding what is due diligence for a borehole drilling and loop grouting operation is the key. If the course can save just one embarrassing pressure failure problem requiring re-digging and repairing, it pays for itself.
4. The story behind the creation of the driller certification. Why was it created and what does it specialize in teaching?
IGSHPA has recognized that Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning contractors do not drill geothermal borehole wells. And well drillers do not venture inside to assemble and install heat pump systems, with associated plumbing, electrical, controls and duct work.
IGSHPA therefore established a separate category specifically for well drillers, who can become Accredited Vertical Installers, specializing in their expertise of:
§ Deep soil and rock drilling
§ Installing HDPE U-bend loop piping
§ Bentonite grouting them completely
§ Socket or butt heat fusing the horizontal lines
§ Flushing and purging air and debris from the loops
§ Adding correct amounts of antifreeze.
Anyone can go to the IGSHPA website to the Search Accredited Installers button and check under their U.S. state listing for accredited Vertical Loop Installers. These are individuals who have completed the Vertical Installers course, passed the test and are dues paid members of IGSHPA.
Before he left IGSHPA this summer, Training Coordinator John Clapp and Gregory Wells of Jackson Geothermal developed a two day, instead of three day course specifically aimed at well drillers, which minimized the emphasis on building interior mechanical components. Held successfully in South Carolina at the South Atlantic Well Drillers, Inc. Jubilee, and in Oklahoma, the workshop has been widely acclaimed by participants.
Important information for drillers is presented in small class size where all questions and comments are encouraged, including:
§ Soil & rock identification and thermal conductivity
§ Sizing & designing a heat pump system ground heat exchanger
§ Installing, grouting and manifolding the loops
§ Flushing, purging and proper antifreeze addition.
The workshop then goes beyond the science to discuss real world project costs, bidding and production issues. Common problems and solutions are addressed for excessive ground water control, tremie pipe insertion to the bottom, grout connectivity between boreholes and loss in seams, plus aquifer protection. Everyone experiences hands-on HDPE heat fusion.
With a room full of fellow drillers, friendships form, business cards are traded, and practical experience and real life stories are shared at the coffee or lunch breaks with others who have “been there, done that”.
Leading everyone in IGSHPA Training events, HeatSpring is now offering this same IGSHPA ratified course from the South Atlantic, in Portland, Maine this November 8 and 9. The course is not like a heat pump manufacturer course, covering the inner workings of a coaxial heat exchanger and its electrical efficiency, etc. Valuable time is spent instead on drilling know how, and making the U-bends work properly and safely. No longer need well drillers wonder if their geothermal installation techniques vary from the typical standards. Once completing the course, they can be assured of installing loops as IGSHPA recommends. Well Drilling Companies who sponsor their crew workers for this training know that the presentation goes beyond the in-house routine of “this is how we have always done it”.
Attendees receive 6 manuals worth hundreds of dollars, and take a 50 question multiple choice open book examination. By following the Study Guide (not allowed during the test) a high percentage passes the first time.
If you are interested in knowing all about vertical loop heat exchangers, or simply want to refresh a past credential, join us in Portland this fall for an event well worth your time.
President, Litchfield Geothermal
Peter Tavino is an IGSHPA Trainer, who has run his own business for 25 years. He is a Professional Engineer, a Licensed Septic Installer, an IGSHPA Accredited Installer, Certified GeoExchange Designer and Vertical Loop Installer. After completing his HeatSpring Training, he formed Litchfield Geothermal, which has installed numerous vertical and horizontal loop systems in Connecticut. His clients have been awarded over $100,000 in geothermal rebates, and more than that in tax credits. Peter presented a paper on these geothermal rebates at the 2010 IGHSPA conference in Denver. He helped form the first IGSHPA state chapter and serves as its Standards Committee Chairman. He is LEED AP and a Building Analyst 1. He has authored articles in World Wide Geothermal Resource magazine, and four online continuing education courses, including: Geothermal Heating and Cooling and Geothermal Boreholes.