All posts by Christopher Bice

Radon Mitigation

Radon Levels and the Value of Time

When speaking with customers on a daily basis, they often ask about their radon levels and how long they’ve been exposed. One client asked “I used to ride my bike in my basement as a kid, then moved my bedroom down there ~ am I doomed??” Our advice is always, don’t throw in the towel just yet. As an advocate for Radon Education, we want to provide information in relative terms for everyday use – so here it goes……

When we hear of radon readings, in the terms of pCi/L and the “number” what does all that stuff mean?? All of the radon information that is produced in the marketplace takes into consideration that you are exposed 70% of the time. So, we know that we spend our hours sleeping in our home, spend time before and after work and school, and spend time on weekends and other occasions. This type of lifestyle represents 70% of our time being spent in our homes. So let’s use the example of 4 pCi/l – by now you may know that the level of 4 is equivalent to a non-smoker smoking 8 cigarettes per day. Let’s look at a few different scenarios and potential impact.

Scenario 1:  You have a home based business or you are allowed to work from home or are a stay-at-home parents or retiree. In this case a radon reading of 4 pCi/l is much, much more significant – because you are home in excess of the average 70%. In this case, you may leave only to do errands and everyday occurrences. Your relevant exposure is going to be higher in this case therefore potentially having a much bigger impact on your long term health.

Scenario 2: You have a job that requires you to travel for work the majority of the week such as outside sales, training or a consultant to name a few. This type of person is actually exposed less than the 70% average for the pure fact that they physically are not home as much. Make sense??

Wrapping it all up –

Your time exposed is multiplied by the amount of radiation –  which equals your dose. So if you live in a home with 1 pCi/l for 7 years, it’s the same as living in a home with 7 pCi/l for 1 year. It’s the same amount of exposure in both cases. If you are fortunate enough to live in a home where your radon reading is 1.3 pCi/l to 1.5 pCi/l then your home is considered “average.” Keep in mind other radiation exposure such as X-rays for medical/dental, cell phones, even Cosmic radiation emitted from the atmosphere. Radon is the single greatest contributor of radiation to the average person and accounts for more than 50% of your families total radiation exposure of their lifetime. As always….test, test, and test. Once this is done – mitigate as necessary. This is definitely something that you can control and provide protection for your loved ones!!

*If you have found this content useful, please consider sharing it via social media! Help Guardian Radon & Electric get the word out!!*

*Special thanks to Radonawareness.org for providing some of the content above.

 

Real Estate and Radon in Naperville, IL – Who should pay for the radon system when needed?

 Congratulations! You’ve made the offer on your new home and all is moving forward as it should – you’ve been prequalified, love the home, found your home inspector, you’re lovin’ life – then the fear sets in. Your soon to be new home has tested high for Radon Gas. All kinds of thoughts run through you mind…..what do we do now? Do we have to find a different house? Who is going to pay for this?…..I’m not gonna pay….and the list goes on. STOP and breathe. Most experienced Naperville real estate agents and real estate attorneys have a great deal of experience dealing with elevated radon levels and real estate disclosure. This is the time to really lean on your real estate team to help you navigate through the process.

Although there is no clear cut answer on who should pay for any repairs, it usually becomes the burden of the seller to correct any safety issues and Radon is definitely a safety issue. If the seller disagrees and chooses to try and sell the home to another party, elevated radon levels and the disclosure will follow. Therefore it will be in the best interest of both the seller and buyer to “work it out.” Eventually, the seller will most likely have the system installed in order to sell the home, but as always it comes down to how committed they are to selling the home and how committed the buyers are on purchasing that home.

There are times when sellers will be advised to offer a credit or reduction in sale price to help cover the cost of the future repair to the buyer. This can be a sticky situation. Many times, depending on the type of loan that is arranged and/or other credits that have previously been offered during negotiations, the lender may stipulate that the radon mitigation system be installed prior to funding and closing the loan. Keep in mind elevated radon is a health and safety issue therefore many lenders will stand their ground. Also worth noting, as a buyer, if you choose to close on the home “as is” you then own the home and any issues without recourse.

Lastly, once it is decided to install a radon mitigation system, be sure and use a licensed, experienced radon contractor. It is also beneficial to hire an installer that bonds and insures in Naperville, IL. Knowing that the system has been properly installed and is functioning properly allows both the seller and the buyer to move forward with the transaction!

Christopher Bice, Founder of Guardian Radon Mitigation & Electrical Services, LLC is a licensed and certified Radon Mitigation contractor through the State of Illinois’ IEMA Division. Guardian is also a current registered contractor in the City of Naperville.

Radon Levels in Kendall County, IL

As  we’ve discussed many times before, Radon is a very real problem in many areas of the country. Today we want to delve in and look at our very own Kendall County, IL and learn about the current radon information made available to us and why this should be important to you and your family.

We have all agreed that Radon is a known Class “A” carcinogen and may lead to harmful health effects such as Lung Cancer. What becomes important is to have up to date information about your county and what to do about it if you should find that there is a problem in your home.

Graph of Radon in Kendall County, IL

Kendall County Radon Levels

The chart above demonstrates in the red section, that 52% of the homes within Kendall County have tested at 4.0 pci/l or higher, 20% of the homes read between 2.0 pci/l and 3.9 pci/l (yellow section) and lastly, 28% of the homes tested under 2.0 pci/l. For the average homeowner that is not under a real estate contract, most independent sources such as the EPA will advise mitigating your home if your reading falls within 2.0 – 3.9 pci/l. Remember, the lower your radon levels are, the lower your exposure and ideally your risk. **All of the radon information produced by state, local and national government assume a 70% exposure rate. That means, that you are in your home 70% of the time between sleeping, just being at home, weekends etc. 

*First an foremost, elevated radon is a very “fixable” problem.* If you have tested your home and discover you have a problem, the next step is to find a reputable Radon Contractor. Radon Mitigation as well as Radon Testing are highly specialized trades. Here in Illinois, Radon Mitigators and Radon Testers are required to be state licensed, however this is not the case in all states! With Radon being such a serious health threat ,selecting the right contractor is very important. Here are a few tips to consider:

Is the contractor licensed? You can find an Illinois state licensed contractor on the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) website.

Are they insured? Radon mitigation systems sometimes require alterations to your home. Make sure that the contractor’s insurance is up to date and they have the proper coverage for the scope of work.

Did you receive a written proposal and/or estimate before proceeding? You should always be given a scope of work, breakdown of pricing and any limitations or exclusions that may apply?

Did they provide a guarantee of their work? A qualified installer should be able to get to the root of your problem and address the issue at hand as well as have the confidence that the system will be functional and mitigated to the lowest levels achievable for your home.

Do they have references or reviews?? Be sure and do your homework!

**Are they experienced in what you need them to do?? This is a big one. Don’t fall for companies that will promote how long they’ve been in business or are a jack of all trades and master of none. The pertinent question is – how long have they been Radon professionals?? Do your homework. Although everyone needs to start somewhere, don’t get fooled with salesman talk.

Ask to see their license and know how to read it. For instance, my license number is: RNM2008209. That means, I have a Radon Mitigation Professional license, was licensed in the year 2008, and was the 9th person that year to be licensed.

How many installations have they performed? They should willingly provide this information to you and it can be validated with the Freedom of Information Act.

Have they pulled the appropriate permits to do the job? Radon Mitigation is not a “side job” kind of business. Any reputable contractor will have the appropriate permits for your install. If you are unsure if a permit is needed, call your local Village Hall to find out. 

Lastly, don’t make your decision on price alone. A lower price may indicate lower quality materials being used,  underpaid or unlicensed technicians working on your job and an overall lack of craftsmanship. 

Arming yourself with the right information and being a saavy consumer will put you in the lead. Don’t get caught by surprise. Please be sure and test your home. If you’ve tested in the past and it has been at least 2 years, test again. Staying “in the know” with your radon levels will provide the peace of mind for you and your family.

*Special thanks to the EPA and the IEMA for providing some of the radon facts above.

Christopher Bice, Founder of Guardian Radon Mitigation & Electrical Services, LLC is a licensed and certified Radon Mitigation contractor through the State of Illinois’ IEMA Division.

 

Radon Mitigation

Having Radon in your home – how dangerous is it really???

In our field of work, we’ve realized that most people have their first experience with radon when they are either buying or selling a home. Certainly, radon is a nuisance for sellers, and to buyers it’s a scary thought and many worry it will sway them away from the purchase of the home. Unfortunately, there is the rest of the world that won’t ever realize they have a problem in their home because there is  a lack of radon awareness in the market today.

Where does it come from?

Since radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas, you would never know it surrounds you unless you have a radon test performed on your home. Radon is a soil gas and it comes from the decomposition of Uranium in the ground below. It doesn’t matter whether your basement is finished or unfinished – really nice carpet or tile won’t stop it from coming in!

Radon may rise to elevated levels below any structure (i.e. home, building, school) and gets in through stack effect – very similar to how a chimney works. Areas of entry can vary. Perhaps is the cracks in your foundation flooring, drain tiles in your basement, your water supply, crawl spaces…and the list goes on.

Every area of the country has radon. Conditions and levels will vary from area to area so we cannot stress enough how important it is to test your home.

But we never use our basement….

Not using your basement as living space does not indicate that you and your family are “safe.” Most homes today are built with duct work.  As your furnace fan pushes the air of the home throughout heating and cooling – guess what happens to the levels of radon gas from your basement?? It’s being circulated to the living space of your home!

The most difficult part about all of this –  

In our field of work, we’ve realized that most people have their first experience with radon when they are either buying or selling a home. Certainly, radon is a nuisance for sellers, and to buyers it’s a scary thought and many worry it will sway them away from the purchase of the home. Unfortunately, there is the rest of the world that won’t ever realize they have a problem in their home because there is  a lack of radon awareness in the market today.

Where does it come from?

Since radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas, you would never know it surrounds you unless you have a radon test performed on your home. Radon is a soil gas and it comes from the decomposition of Uranium in the ground below. It doesn’t matter whether your basement is finished or unfinished – really nice carpet or tile won’t stop it from coming in!

Radon may rise to elevated levels below any structure (i.e. home, building, school) and gets in through stack effect – very similar to how a chimney works. Areas of entry can vary. Perhaps is the cracks in your foundation flooring, drain tiles in your basement, your water supply, crawl spaces…and the list goes on.

Every area of the country has radon. Conditions and levels will vary from area to area so we cannot stress enough how important it is to test your home.

But we never use our basement….

Not using your basement as living space does not indicate that you and your family are “safe.” Most homes today are built with duct work.  As your furnace fan pushes the air of the home throughout heating and cooling – guess what happens to the levels of radon gas from your basement?? It’s being circulated to the living space of your home!

The most difficult part about all of this –

To date, the efforts of the EPA, State Radon Programs, Radon Advocates and others have certainly gained momentum in reaching the public about the risks of radon gas in their homes. It’s remains difficult however to get people concerned that their home – their place of solace and security, is a potential source of this hidden danger. Furthermore, it’s very difficult to convince people that radon gas exposure is not a pass or fail type of issue. Risks exist with all levels of radon gas. Naturally, the higher the level, the greater the risk.

For more information –

Provided below are some independent links that can provide additional information for you ~

http://www.epa.gov/radon/

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/radon

http://www.state.il.us/iema/radon/RadonIllinois_nonFlash.asp

http://health.co.kendall.il.us

Guardian Radon Mitigation & Electrical Services, LLC is a licensed and certified Radon Mitigation contractor through the State of Illinois’ IEMA Division

Lung Cancer and Women

What does the word “Woman” bring to mind…..How ’bout partner, wife, mother, caretaker, lover,  schedule planner, gentle, fierce….I can go on and on. Women in general are so focused on taking care of others, they often put themselves last. Then why, oh why would you not test your home for Radon Gas – man or woman??? As parents and husbands/wives,  we buckle our children in the car, help them cross the road, wash their fruits and vegetables, make doctor appointments, dental appointments etc., etc., To all of the women out there (and men too) – we dedicate this post to focusing on YOUR HEALTH. Let’s take care of ourselves and in turn our families. Now let’s take a look at some eye opening information ~

Most people know that smoking can cause cancer, however many don’t realize that Lung Cancer can attack non-smokers too. In America between 16,000 and 24,000 people die of lung cancer each year. According to Cancer.org, if lung cancer in non-smokers had it’s own category ~ it would rank in the top 10 most fatal cancers in the U.S.

There seems to be an underlying perception that if one has been diagnosed with lung cancer, they must have smoked – right?? Well, not necessarily. And to top it off – why does it seem to favor women?? Let’s break things down and take a look –

  • Radon Gas – It’s the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers
  • Second Hand Smoke – According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 3,400 non smokers die of lung cancer from second hand smoke.
  • Gene Mutations – when gene mutation occurs, it contributes to the occurance of cancer.

**Since 1987 Lung Cancer has become the #1 Cancer killer of women in the United States. Alarmingly, 1 in 5 women diagnosed with Lung Cancer have never smoked. Lung Cancer in women surpasses breast cancer, ovarian, uterine, cervical, and vaginal cancers combined. According to Unitingagainstlungcancer.org among never smokers, women are more likely to develop lung cancer vs. men. It also attacks them at a much younger age.

That’s some sobering information above. Knowing that Radon Gas is a major contributor to the potential of lung cancer – why not test your home??? It really can be as simple as washing your fruits and vegetables! There is endless information about Radon Gas exposure and Lung Cancer. Call your local county, visit the Illinois Emergency Management Agency website (or just search Radon and your state). Get yourself educated and take any necessary action. Aren’t you worth it??

Christopher Bice, Founder of Guardian Radon Mitigation & Electrical Services, LLC is a licensed and certified Radon Mitigation contractor through the State of Illinois’ IEMA Division.

**Special thanks to  Uniting Against Lung Cancer and Cancer.org for providing some of this data

Maintaining your Radon Mitigation System

Congratulations! You’ve taken the necessary steps to improve the indoor air quality of your home with a Radon Mitigation System. The next question that usually follows is “Am I required to maintain the system?” Below are some helpful tips about your system to keep in mind.

First and foremost, the radon fan is designed to run 24/7. The radon fan needs to run continuously in order for the system to work properly. Radon systems are unlike other mechanicals in your home such as your furnace or air conditioner as they don’t require annual cleanings or tune ups. They do however require that some attention be paid. When you take the system as a whole into consideration, the only “moving” part is the actual fan itself. As with any type of motor there is a life expectancy.

Most fans on the market today carry a 5 year warranty against mechanical failure. Therefore, most fans will last for at least 5 years. To stay on top of things, you will want to occasionally check the Manometer, or the visual gauge. The manometer will be on the pipe work where your system is located inside of your house. This may be your basement, a closet etc. depending where your point of installation is.  We like to refer to this gauge as the U-tube. Inside of the tube is red or blue liquid. The fluid inside the tube should be offset which indicates a pressure reading. Your installer should have marked the original pressure readings during installation and you may use this as your guide. Offset is good! That means things are working. When your radon fan has been shut off or has stopped working, the pressure reading will be equal or at zero indicating a problem. There are other add-ons that you can have on your system, such as an audible alarm, however for our example in this case, the manometer is your guide.

What do I do if my fan isn’t working? Simply call your contractor. Your licensed professional will be able to trouble shoot the system making any repair necessary or replace the non working fan. A typical fan replacement depending on your area of the country and type of fan used for your home will normally range $250-$400. Lastly, by testing your home every 2 years you are able to verify that your levels remain low and that your system is operating properly.

Christopher Bice, Founder of Guardian Radon Mitigation & Electrical Services, LLC is a licensed and certified Radon Mitigation contractor through the State of Illinois’ IEMA Division.

#radon #radonrepair #realestate

Radon and our children

In my many roles as a Radon Mitigation Professional, Radon Awareness Advocate, Blogger and Educator, my most important title is Father. From the day they are conceived to our last breath, they become our focus, our reason for everything and in my case, my greatest accomplishment! The tremendous responsibility that comes along with being a Father, a provider, a protector weighs on a heart. It was when my Wife was pregnant with our Daughter that I discovered Radon in my own home. Our home tested at 13.8 pci/L, that’s nearly 3.5 times the recommended action limit  – and from that day it changed my professional focus.

So are children at a greater risk from Radon? Multiple studies from the American Cancer Society, the EPA and the National Academy of Sciences tells us this, children’s’ lung shape and size differences may matter. We know that the respiratory rate for a child can vary greatly of that of an adult. With that being said, children are ingesting air at a greater rate than an adult. Studies argue back and forth with conviction as to the answer to this question. So let’s look at what we do know.

The science behind Radon Gas is the half-life of the radioactive element and thus the decay products that evolve. Half-life is described as the time it takes for the element to disintegrate to half of its original amount. Radon’s half life is 3.82 days and because the source of radon gas can be continually supplied, elevated levels may occur in homes and buildings. As radon decays it produces alpha particles.  Those alpha particles adhere to dust and as we breathe, we ingest these particles into our thin lung tissue.  In healthy individuals, our bodies will slough off the particles, cells split at a normal rate, but in some cases the alpha particles can remain and it continues to form radioactive decay causing tissue damage and abnormal cells. Over time, this presents the opportunity for lung cancer to develop.

That’s a lot of heavy science stuff. Your take away should be this. Radon Gas is a real problem in many areas of the country. Here in Illinois it is our Mother Nature burden to bear and can be found in every county. Remember it all starts with a simple test. If you learn of elevated radon levels in your home contact a Radon Mitigation Contractor for assistance. This is a fixable problem,  you do not need to live with elevated levels. Contact the State of Illinois’ IEMA division for a local professional near you.

Guardian Radon Mitigation & Electrical Services, LLC is a licensed and certified Radon Mitigation contractor through the State of Illinois’ IEMA Division.

radon basement myth

Radon Basement Myth Busted!

In my field of work, I get the privilege of speaking to all kinds of people. It never ceases to amaze me that not a week goes by that I don’t hear…”I’m not too worried about Radon, we really don’t use our basement much.” I have to remind myself “two ears and one mouth” as I listen to their justification. Even more scary, their belief! Now, in my line of work, my customers range from homeowners, sellers and buyers in real estate, renters, stay at home Mom’s, the young, the old and everyone in between. It doesn’t much seem to matter what line of work or background they come from, the overall consensus is it’s just a problem for them.

I consider myself a Radon Awareness Advocate, an Educator, a Radon Mitigation Professional and now my most recent venture…a Radon Blogger. I’m on a quest to bust this popular “myth” about Radon and whether or not it’s a problem in your home.

The truth is, in this scenario the basement just happens to be the entry point. Although some people only spend a small portion of their time in their basement, the air in the basement doesn’t stay contained.

Radon is likely present in every level of the house depending on a few things. The number one cause of Radon entering your home comes from the forces that will draw the gases in. There is natural negative pressure that will draw the gas in through your basement floor. These are the same forces that continue to bring the air up through the upper levels of the house (i.e. convection).

The other big contributing factor is duct work. Most modern day homes are built with duct work in place. If there is a furnace or duct work located in the basement, anytime you are using your furnace fan via heat or air conditioning, these systems are then circulating this conditioned air throughout the house. So in other words, basement air doesn’t just stay in the basement!

The only way to know if a Radon problem exists in your home is to test. You can either test yourself with a home test kit or hire a professional Radon Testing company. Either way you can’t go wrong, and to quote the famous Sir Francis Bacon, “knowledge is power.”

Guardian Radon Mitigation & Electrical Services, LLC is a licensed and certified Radon Mitigation contractor through the State of Illinois’ IEMA Division.