Category Archives: Radon

Recent FAQ’s From Our Clients

Day to day we are asked many of the same type of questions from our potential clients. Our role is not restricted to mitigation installers only. When it comes to Radon, Guardian’s role is not only installation, but education and awareness also. Today we wanted to share a few questions that seem to have a recurring theme to them and truly are considered an “FAQ!” Hope you find this information to be helpful.

Q: Recently a former client from Naperville, IL asked us:  “I’m thinking of buying a home with an existing radon mitigation system already in it. How would I know if it is working properly?”

A: You can do a couple of things here to verify the system is functioning properly. First, inspect the manometer on the radon pipe inside of the house. This will be U-shaped tube typically with red or blue dye in it. If it is showing offset, the system appears to be functioning. Second, locate the actual fan/motor unit and feel or hear that it is working. Third – TEST THE HOUSE. This will ensure that the levels are still within the “acceptable” range for radon gas. 

This next customer just called this a.m.! Thought it was fitting to include it ~

Q: Recently a former client from Plainfield, IL asked the question: “I’m selling my house and they tell me I have elevated radon levels. I’m skeptical, can I retest to be sure?”

A: That’s a great question and one we hear quite frequently. When you are living with a condition that you are unaware of, it’s a hard concept to understand. The answer is this ~ You must have some grounds to invalidate the radon test assuming it was done by a professional testing company. If there are no grounds to do so, then some type of radon reduction method must be performed before you can test again. And in most cases, a reduction method alone (i.e. seal the sump lid, or seal foundation cracks in the basement) is met with limited succes, ultimately costing the seller more time and money. 

If you’re house has tested elevated for radon, an active radon mitigation system is strongly encouraged. Remember, although it seems like a stumbling block, it not a reason to stop your closing.

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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. 

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Fun Family Activities to Enjoy in Kendall County, IL

Let’s take a look at some family-friendly activities to enjoy around beautiful Kendall County, IL. Nothing says summer like packing a picnic lunch, grabbing some comfy shoes and headed out with friends and family to enjoy our local scenery and happenings!

1.) How about checking out your local park district???

Being from Oswego, IL, I’m still amazed how our local park district has grown and the services they offer to our residents. We love taking a dip in the pool and can’t wait to check out the newly renovated Winrock location. The park district also boasts several running trail and local parks for your enjoyment.

2.) Your local library

Your local library is not just about checking out awesome books anymore, our daughter participated in a drawing/sketching class this summer, also got a chance to read to some therapy dogs, attend an arts/crafts event and more….all FREE!! What a great deal!

3.) Ellis House Family Fun Nights

Come out and enjoy Ellis House & Equestrian Centers the first Friday of each month (not available on 4th of July) for face painting, pony rides, good ol’ fashioned tractor hay rides, nature trails, bon-fire and board games. In addition, they offer summer camps for kids ($), Pony Birthday Parties ($) and of course riding lessons ($)

4.) Silver Springs State Park

What a beauty practically in our own backyards. Enjoy the many hiking trails, have a picnic, do some local fishing boating (no gas motors), canoeing and canoe rentals, hunting and even camping. Open year around, Silver Springs offers great amenities and has plenty of cold weather activities too like cross country skiing, sledding, ice skating and more.

5.) Raging Waves

Forget fighting traffic trying to get up North, Raging Waves right in Yorkville, IL offers family fun at any level. Enjoy the lazy river, get your thrills on the gi-normous water slides, rent a cabana and relax!! ($$) Be sure and keep an eye out for any Living Social and Groupon deals as they run then often to save some money!

6.) Splash Pad in Oswego

Kids and adults alike can enjoy a spray of cool water on those hot days. Did we mention this was FREE?? Stop in for a few, run ’em around and wear them out. Isn’t that our job as parents?? LOL. Love, love, love this place

7.) Skate Parks

Oswego offers Chesterfield Skate Park and PrairiePoint Skate park. It’s a BYOB, bring your own boards and safety gear and enjoy. Parks are open from the a.m. until dusk. 

8.) Keller’s Farmstand

What a gem to have right here in town! Keller’s offers wonderful produce in the summer months, is definitely a family destination in the fall during harvest season. Love the hayrides, pumpkins, corn maze and more. Keller’s also works with local school districts and preschools during the school year to accommodate field trips.

9.) Movies in the Park

Check out your what your community has to offer. Oswego provides movies in the park during summer months. This is offered by the Oswego Cultural Arts Commission and offers a full line up for the season. Check them out on line or at the Village of Oswego website. Don’t forget your popcorn, lawn chairs, blankets and bug spray!!

10.) A Whole Host of Festivals!!

Saving what we feel is the best for last….all of the local festivals that are offered in Kendall County, IL. Did you make it to PrairieFest this year?? Just keeps getting better and better and definitely a local favorite. Any plans to visit Yorkville’s Home Town Days – always loads of fun and a great place to run into someone you know! Let’s know forget the Kendall County Fair. We love the magic show, animals and exhibits, of course the rides and the atmosphere of the communities that so many of us call HOME!

Get our and enjoy your family, friends and neighbors and great happenings here in beautiful Kendall County, IL. Signing off for now….and if you haven’t yet, be sure and test your home for 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

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.

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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.

 

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.

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