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Salt Lake County Health Department
General Information  
Salt Lake County, UT
(385) 468-4100  

Ground Source Heat Pumps

About

Ground source, or geothermal, heat pumps are electrically powered climate control systems that use the earth's relatively constant temperature to provide heating, cooling, and hot water for homes and commercial buildings.

In a ground source heat pump, fluid flows in a loop through pipes that extend underground. The fluid is either heated or cooled to the ambient underground temperature, where it then travels back to the building where it cools or heats the air within.

Ground source heat pumps are energy efficient, but if they are not located, installed, and maintained correctly, they can harm the environment by contaminating drinking water aquifers, watershed areas, wetlands, streams, and more.

Installing a Heat Pump?

If you’re thinking about installing a ground source heat pump in Salt Lake County, be sure to verify that the contractor or installer you are considering is licensed, experienced, and certified with an organization such as IGSHPA (International Ground Source Heat Pump Association).

If the geothermal wells you install impact the environment, you, as the owner, may be held liable. Please also keep the following things in mind:

Location: If not located correctly, geothermal wells can contaminate drinking water aquifers, watershed areas, wetlands, and more. If you have questions about a specific location, please contact us.

Installation: The recirculating fluid used in the pipes usually contains chemical additives such as methanol or ethanol. These chemicals pose a health risk if they come in contact with drinking water. If the underground pipes develop a leak, these chemicals can be released into the drinking water aquifer.

System Design:Closed systems are strongly preferred over open, direct exchange, and pond/river systems because they create less potential for contaminants to be released into the environment.

Permitting: The Utah Division of Water Rights requires a well-drilling permit before drilling.

Maintenance: Systems must be maintained and pressure tested regularly to ensure that leaks have not developed.

For Contractors

If you’re a ground source heat pump contractor or installer operating in Salt Lake County, be sure to familiarize yourself with our guideline document before you begin work: