1. I'm considering having a geothermal heating and cooling system installed at my home or business. Who should I contact first for more information?
Property, home and business owners considering installing a geothermal heating and cooling system should contact a heating and cooling system professional or architect for information on system design and applicability.
2. Are there any state laws or regulations restricting the installation of geothermal heating and cooling systems?
Yes. Closed-loop geothermal heating and cooling systems may not be installed within the sanitary isolation radius of a public water supply well. There are no other restrictions in state law on siting geothermal heating and cooling systems.
However, local siting restrictions may apply. Please contact the local health district
, zoning board or commission and/or building department for additional information.
3. Do well records need to be filed for geothermal systems?
Yes. For open loop systems, a well record needs to be filed for each well (both extraction and return wells). For closed loop systems with less than 20 borings, a minimum of one well record is required. On the record, state the number of borings that were installed along with the coordinates for each boring. For systems that have greater than 20 borings, five well records should be submitted; one each at the four corners of the grid and one record for the boring closest to the center of the grid. All well records should be submitted to the ODNR Division of Soil and Water Resources
and other agencies depending on the type of use (e.g. the local health district
if the well is also used for domestic purposes, or the Ohio EPA UIC Program
if the well is a return well).
4. Does the fluid inside a closed-loop geothermal heating and cooling system pose a threat to ground water if it leaks?
Yes, but it may be minimal, depending on the antifreeze used and the volume of fluid involved. Most closed-loop systems circulate a water-antifreeze mixture. The antifreeze constitutes 10-20% of the volume. Many closed-loop geothermal heating and cooling systems use methanol or ethanol as antifreeze. Both of these break down rapidly in the subsurface. Propylene glycol, a food-grade antifreeze is also used. Some antifreezes are toxic and should not be used where the ground water is being used for drinking water. Closed-loop systems are also equipped with sensors that automatically shut-off the system if the pressure drops, minimizing the amount of fluid released from the system in the event of a leak.
5. Should geothermal heating/cooling systems be permitted within a source water protection area?
In Ohio, state law does not restrict the siting, installation or operation of a geothermal heating/cooling system within a source water protection area. However, the guidance presented here recommends that if a closed-loop system is proposed within the inner management zone of a source water protection area, the antifreeze used should be food-grade (for example, propylene glycol). Ohio EPA encourages concerned community leaders to work with their local planning offices to provide a mechanism to ensure that installation and operation of such systems is protective of ground water quality.
6. How do I determine if a property is in a source water protection area?
To determine if a proposed closed-loop system is located within a source water protection area, contact Ohio EPA's SWAP program at:
Ohio EPA, Division of Drinking and Ground Waters
Source Water Assessment and Protection Program
50 West Town Street, Suite 700
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: (614) 644-2752
Fax: (614) 644-2909
Please include the following information in your request:
- the location of the existing or proposed facility (a map showing the propsed system location is preferred)
- the reason for your request
- your contact information, including your e-mail address