Category Archives: Radon Mitigation

How to select the “right” Radon Mitigation Professional

Whether you are a homeowner or a real estate professional ~ there are some guidelines to use when selecting the right Radon Professional for the job!

How should you select a contractor?

As with any home improvement project there are some “must haves” when evaluating your professional.

1.) Did the contractor inspect your home prior to providing an estimate?

We receive calls daily from perspective homeowners and real estate professionals as well as attorneys asking “Can you give me an estimate on the phone or do you have to come out?” Yes, they should “come out.” The purpose of an onsite estimate is to properly evaluate the home in the state it is in ~ to avoid surprises, and that goes for the client and the installer. Perhaps the home has a finished basement along with a gravel crawl space. What does that mean to you when having the work performed? How will that contractor reduce radon levels in both areas?

2.) Will the contractor provide photographs of work and/or references?

Easy enough to ask for and you should!!

3.) Did the contractor explain to you what work needs to be done? Did they set your expectations on length of the job, materials used, and how the system will “work” after installation?

Many people just don’t know, some are not interested and others don’t think of asking. It’s okay to quiz the potential contractor about these things. Why leave people guessing??

4.) Did the contractor ask for the pre mitigation test levels and the report? 

It is important as a mitigation professional to understand what you are working with. For example, a finished basement has some natural limitations as you do not want any part of the system to be visable in your finished area. Understanding your pre mitigation levels will help the contractor determine how many suction points need to be used, what type of fan to use (one size does not fit all) and other potential road blocks during installation they need to look for. It’s more important than you may think.

5.) May I see your insurance please?? How bout seeing that license too?

Absolutely!! Look for not only their General Liability Insurance as a business, ask for their Worker’s Compensation Insurance too. What if they were hurt while working at YOUR home? Make sense?? Protect yourself.  Ask to see their Radon license. You’d be surprised…there have been some companies here in Illinois that market themselves as “Environmental Experts” – that does not necessarily mean they are licensed to do radon work.

The Contract

Every contract should contain the following at a minimum ~ scope of work, warranty terms and exclusions (yes there are some), start date and completion date, total cost of the job, transferability of the warranty and payment terms. Pretty basic stuff but quite important.

In Closing

We can’t stress this enough, all radon mitigation systems are not created equal. Be sure and select the contract providing the best value. Take into account that a less expensive system may have higher overall operating costs – those costs never go away! Take into account the type of building materials and the technique best suited for your home. Will this system be in line with the aesthetics of your home or will is stick out like a sore thumb? Here in Illinois you can visit the IEMA website to find licensed radon mitigation professionals in your area – the rest is up to you!

 

If you’ve found this article to be helpful, consider sharing it on your social media page! Christopher Bice is the founder of Guardian Radon Mitigation & Electrical Services, LLC. Christopher is a licensed Radon Mitigation Professional through the IEMA.

03*Special thanks to the EPA for providing some of this content. 

Radon and Homeowners Insurance ~ Is it covered??

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is a product of decomposing Uranium in the earth. Through the decomposition process, radon gas seeps into the Earth’s soil, then providing the opportunity to build up levels and inhabit your home. Radon Gas is found in all 50 states of the U.S. and it’s presence in homes can certainly raise serious health concerns. Radon is not a sudden event or “accident” therefore your homeowner’s policy will most likely not cover the cost of mitigation or health related effects.

Radon Facts and Occurrance

Radon has no color, no odor and is invisible to all of us. Testing for radon gas is strongly recommended for those involved in a real estate transaction. Radon comes from many sources, including our own outdoor air. The dangers increase when we expose ourselves long term to concentrated amounts, such as our indoor air of our homes. Because it is not evident whether or not it is present, radon testing should be conducted. No one gets sick quickly being exposed to radon gas, it’s very different than carbon monoxide. It can however provide ample opportunity for lung cancer. Currently in the U.S. 21,000-23,000 people annually, who are “never-smokers” will have their lives taken by radon induced lung cancer. **Be sure and test your home.

Homeowners Insurance

Lenders and Banks most times make up at least 80% of the homes value in cash therefore will require homeowners insurance to fund the loan. Homeowners is there to protect you from unexpected loss or damage of your property. Loss may occur as a natural event such as tornado, fire hazard, vandalism, theft and other covered events. It will also cover you in the event someone is hurt at your home or on your property. The insurance does not cover the cost of radon mitigation. 

Testing Your Home

Every home when tested will report some level of radon gas. As a matter of fact, there will not/should not ever be a reading of “0” pCi/l and if there is….something went wrong with the test. Outdoor natural occurring radon levels are around .3 pCi/l and the EPA will recommend mitigations for any home that tests over 2.0 pCi/l. **This is for homes not involved in real estate transactions, currently the disclosure level for radon in real estate is 4.0 pCi/l. Testing comes in many convenient options. There are charcoal canister tests available as well as electronic monitors that run continuously in your home and of course professional testing with highly calibrated equipment and lots of data. If you should test the home yourself as a homeowner, please be sure and adhere to the strict instructions to prevent an inaccurate reading.  

Mitigating Your Home

Radon mitigation is a process in which a combination of suction point(s), pipework, radon fan and caulk sealing is installed to reduce indoor radon levels. The type of process most common in the Midwest is called Sub Slab Depressurization. It’s a fancy title that basically mean, to create more negative pressure under your foundation, than already exists in your house. Thus the result is the movement of the gas to an exhaust point and significant reduction levels. In Illinois, radon is a licensed trade and you can find a local mitigation professional on the State of Illinois website. Most systems are installed in as little as one day and begin to work immediately. You must also retest your home after the installation of the system – this will provide you with the new “norm” of reading in your home. The average cost of a radon mitigation install will range from $1000 – $2500. Some systems depending on design and need of the home may fall below or above the state range. An onsite estimate and review of your home is highly recommended. 

Special thanks to the IEMA and UALC for providing some of the content above. 

If you like this post, please consider sharing through social media. Help us get the word out about Radon Gas!

 

Getting The Most Value From Your Radon Mitigation System

When it comes to radon mitigation systems, not all systems are created equal. Here is Illinois, radon mitigation is a licensed profession by the State of Illinois therefore mitigation standards have been set and must be adhered to. With that being said ~ a system may meet all compliance standards but not pass the approval of the homeowner(s). 

Starting with some basics, a radon system must have a few basic necessities to function properly. They consist of suction point(s), a minimum of 3 inch piping, the right amount of pitch, a manometer, commonly referred to as a U-tube,  a radon fan, sometimes plastic sheeting depending on the needs of the home and other small hardware items  to assist in mounting the system properly. Lastly, what I feel is just as important is the craftsmanship and aesthetics of the system and how it will coexist with your particular home.

So what does all of that mean? Well for starters, Guardian Radon Mitigation will not put a discount system on a higher end  house. For that matter, we won’t install a discount system on a discount house!! System location, having unnecessary turns, the use of white pvc pipe vs aluminum downspout for exterior systems will all have an effect of the overall look of your system. They type of radon fan used deserves its own mention. How energy efficient if that fan? How much noise will it make? What type of warranty is offered? You want to take into consideration how you are currently using your home and more importantly, how may the home be used in the future??

Let’s turn our conversation to meeting local compliance standards. Be sure and verify that your contractor has the proper insurance and bonding in place and is registered to work in your community (if necessary). Is a permit involved? If so, did the contractor disclose that to you? Have they pulled the necessary permit(s) for your radon system? Call your local Village office to inquire about this. What about if you live in a development that is managed by a home owners association? Has the HOA approved your installation and type of technique used? Will your contractor work with your HOA?

It’s a bit more involved than just “price shopping.”  Most system installs will range between $800 – $2500 nationally according to the EPA. Drilling down a bit more, the majority of systems will fall between $1000 – $1200 for homes that have just one “footprint” (i.e. just a basement, or slab only etc.).  The take away is, when you are making your buying decision, base your decision on the whole picture and the lowest cost of ownership as well as best results – not just price.

We leave you with this:  “Price is what you pay, Value is what you get!” – Warren Buffet

quote-price-is-what-you-pay-value-is-what-you-get-warren-buffett-26797

Radon Levels and Renters ~ What Every Tenant Should Know

Unlike homeowners, many renters do not have the professional guidance such as a realtor or attorney when they are looking to sign for a new lease. Renters therefore infrequently will do their due diligence with regards to having any home inspection performed, or environmental testing such as a radon test prior to signing their lease. Here lies the problem ~ as a renter you may be signing for lease unaware of any potential dangers in the home or apartment. As of December 29, 2011 approximately one-third of Illinois housing was being rented (Source: IEMA Press Release)

Illinois passed a  “new” law on January 1, 2012 to help renters learn more about Radon levels in their home.  If the building that you are living in has been previously tested for Radon, the landlord is required to inform you in writing that a radon problem may exist. Prior to signing your lease, be sure and ask about this. If the home or building has NOT been tested, then conduct your own radon test either with a home test kit or licensed testing company. The IEMA recommends that all homes be tested below the third floor. Because Radon is a soil gas, the highest levels are likely to occur in the lowest levels. 

What can you do if you find elevated Radon levels in your place of residence?

Because radon mitigation is considered a remodel project and requires repairs to the building, it is often the landlord or building owner that would have to authorize having the repairs done – not the tenants. If your home has high levels of Radon there are steps that you as the tenant can take to see that the problem gets fixed.

1.) Inform the building owner in writing that the home has tested elevated for Radon 
Gas. Be prepared to provide a copy of the radon results. Ask for details from the owner on how they plan on fixing the problem. 

2.) If you live in an multi-unit building, share your information with your neighbors and encourage them to do their own testing. Remember, just because your unit has tested elevated, there may be other areas of the building that do not. Once others have confirmed, we recommend the same steps be taken. Present the information in writing to the building owner. 

Useful Tenant Checklist:

*Check the building that you live in. Has it been tested for Radon? If so, ask for the results in writing. If it has not, perform a test yourself or hire a licensed testing company to do so. 

*If your radon levels are at 4.0 pCi/l or higher, present to the building owner in writing with a request for further testing and/or installation of a radon mitigation system. 

*If your rented home or unit has elevated levels and you are in need of further assistance, contact the IEMA Radon Hotline at 1-800-325-1245

Lastly, with regards to Radon levels in any type of real estate transaction –  purchase, lease or rentals, Illinois has mandated a “disclosure law” only. Be sure and do your due diligence and protect yourself and your family. With this law now in effect, it is a step in the right direction for tenants in Illinois. 

*Special thank you to the IEMA for providing some of this content

Additional links:

http://www.iema.illinois.gov/HomePage_Content/PressRelease12_29_2011_RadonTennants.pdf

http://www.state.il.us/iema/radon/pdf/RadonGuideForTenants.pdf

 

The Worst Excuses We’ve Ever Heard About Radon

Seems to be that the folks we talk to in the field fall into two categories. Believers and Non-Believers. Unfortunately many of us only learn about the effects of elevated radon gas when involved in a real estate transaction or personal tragedy. Then there is the rest of the world – and that’s a whole lot of people. Certainly everyone is entitled to their thoughts on the subject but today we thought it would be a good idea to share “The Worst Excuses We’ve Ever Heard About Radon.”

Excuse #1: “We’re okay because we really don’t even use our basement much.”

 In todays homes, there is duct work for the heating and air system. This duct work transfers the air around your home. In other words, basement air becomes upstairs air and vice versa! The best is when the person(s) of the home are very physically fit and we find all of this exercise equipment in the basement. Worse yet, that’s where the kids toy room is set up. You gotta wonder…..

Excuse #2: “My neighbors house tested fine, so we must be o.k.”

As logical as that may sound, radon may or may not affect homes around each other. The only way to know is to test your own home.

Excuse #3: “I’ve been in this house so long – what difference would it make now?”

If you hadn’t  gone to see a Dentist in a few years does it make sense to never go again?? Of course not. You will reduce your risk of Radon related illness as soon as you have a system installed. Therefore your exposure rate is much less the remainder of the time in your home reducing your risk.

Excuse #4: “If it’s so dangerous, why haven’t I heard about it more?”

Simply put….the State has no money to promote it. They do what they can but the information must be sought out, it’s tough to come across it unless you are looking for it. There has been a big push from local counties on radon awareness and state education. Unfortunately there have been a series of famous celebrities that died of lung cancer as non-smokers. This gets the most media attention of all. Celebrity illness usually gets the word out for at least a while. Donna Summer is one of the casualties: http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/18/showbiz/donna-summer-dead/)  

Remember Dana Reeves? Superman Christopher Reeve’s wife? (http://www.cnn.com/2006/SHOWBIZ/03/07/reeve.obit/)

 Now, Valerie Harper is fighting the terrible disease – and YES she is and always has been a non-smoker. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/american-lung-association-teams-up-with-valerie-harper-and-kellie-pickler-to-launch-lung-force-national-public-health-initiative-to-fight-lung-cancer-in-women-2014-05-13?reflink=MW_news_stmp)

What do these three have in common?? All non-smokers and all affected by lung cancer.

Excuse #5: “Radon, Schmadon, cancer is everywhere anyways.”

This is the worst one by far. Information is available but it’s difficult to get people to read about it on their own. And yes, unfortunately cancer is always in the news making headlines. But does that mean you should throw in your towel? Do you wash your fruits and veggies before eating them? Do you not wear you seatbelt because it’s highly unlikely that you will get into a car accident? Of course not. We as humans still take logical steps to ensure our health and safety – why not test for radon in your home?

Excuse #6: “No one ever worried about it before and now that I’m selling my house, the buyers just want more money out of me.”

Real estate transaction as a buyer or seller is a very emotional time for most. The truth is Radon Gas falls under health and safety issues – much like mold. It’s pretty realistic for the buyer’s to ask for a remediation. It’s not the same thing as asking for new carpet or light fixtures. This is the time to separate fact from fiction. It doesn’t have to stop the transaction and like we always say – it is a fixable problem.

Help Guardian Radon & Electric get the word out about Radon Awareness. If you’ve enjoyed this blog then please, share it on your social media sites.

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

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 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.