Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why plumbers or builders should not install mitigation systems....

The number one reason is its unlawful: (Unless the builder/plumber meets the below requirements)

§ 32.1-229.01. Companies listed as proficient to perform radon screening, testing or mitigation; compliance.
A. No person shall conduct or offer to conduct any radon screening, testing or mitigation in the Commonwealth unless he has been listed as proficient by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the National Radon Measurement Proficiency Program of the National Environmental Health Association or the National Radon Safety Board Certified Radon Professional Program or any other proficiency program acceptable to the Board of Health to offer such screening, testing or mitigation.

B. Radon professionals listed as proficient pursuant to subsection A shall comply with the radon mitigation and testing standards outlined in the Environmental Protection Agency's publication, EPA 402-R-93-078, as revised, or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM International) Standard, E-2121-02, or any other radon testing and mitigation standards accepted by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Board.

We were asked to bring this new construction residence up to current ASTM Standards by a local/national builder. The blower motor should never be installed in the basement.

We cut the ducting to ensure a proper suction pit had been dug. We found that there was no suction pit and the vent was actually 6" into the the soil.
After pulling the vent out of the slab and soil. Notice the vent is jammed full of soil.
After talking with the builder, we learned that they had a plumber install the system. Plumbers are normally not certified to do radon mitigation. Bottom line: Make sure any radon mitigation system installed in your home is installed by a certified professional mitigator.
Code of Virginia: § 32.1-229.01.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Checking your Certified Contractor's work

Below is a list of basic installation requirements that your contractor should meet when installing a radon reduction system in your home. It is important to verify with your contractor that the radon mitigation standards are properly met to ensure that your radon reduction system will be effective. You can also check with your state radon office to see if there are state requirements that your contractor must meet.
Radon reduction systems must be clearly labeled. This will avoid accidental changes to the system which could disrupt its function.
The exhaust pipe(s) of soil suction systems must vent above the surface of the roof and 10 feet or more above the ground, and at least 10 feet away from windows, doors, or other openings that could allow the radon to reenter the house, if the exhaust pipe(s) do not vent at least 2 feet above these openings.

The exhaust fan must not be located in or below a livable area. For instance, it should be in an unoccupied attic of the house or outside - not in a basement!

If installing an exhaust fan outside, the contractor must install a fan that meets local building codes for exterior use.

Electrical connections of all active radon reduction systems must be installed according to local electrical codes.

A warning device must be installed to alert you if an active system stops working properly. Examples of system failure warning devices are: a liquid gauge, a sound alarm, a light indicator, and a dial (needle display) gauge. The warning device must be placed where it can be seen or heard easily. Your contractor should check that the warning device works. Later on, if your monitor shows that the system is not working properly, call a contractor to have it checked.

A post-mitigation radon test should be done within 30 days of system installation, but no sooner than 24 hours after your system is in operation with the fan on, if it has one. The contractor may perform a post-mitigation test to check his work and the initial effectiveness of the system; however, it is recommended that you also get an independent follow-up radon measurement. Having an independent tester perform the test, or conducting the measurement yourself, will eliminate any potential conflict of interest. To test the system's effectiveness, a 2-7 day measurement is recommended. Test conditions: windows and doors must be closed 12 hours before and during the test, except for normal entry/exit.

Make sure your contractor completely explains your radon reduction system, demonstrates how it operates, and explains how to maintain it. Ask for written operating and maintenance instructions and copies of any warranties.
Information in this post came from the following EPA website:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Radon Levels

The average indoor radon level is estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L, and about 0.4 pCi/L of radon is normally found in the outside air.  EPA recommends that you take action to reduce your home's indoor radon levels if your radon test result is 4 pCi/L or higher. It is better to correct a radon problem before placing your home on the market because then you have more time to address a radon problem.

If elevated levels are found during the real estate transaction, the buyer and seller should discuss the timing and costs of the radon reduction. The cost of making repairs to reduce radon levels depends on how your home was built and other factors. Most homes can be fixed for about the same cost as other common home repairs. Check with and get an estimate from one or more qualified mitigators.

The U.S. Congress has set a long-term goal that indoor radon levels be no more than outdoor levels. While this goal is not yet technologically achievable in all cases, most homes today can be reduced to 2 pCi/L or below.

Sometimes short-term tests are less definitive about whether or not your home is above 4 pCi/L. This can happen when your results are close to 4 pCi/L. For example, if the average of your two short-term test results is 4.1 pCi/L, there is about a 50% chance that your year-round average is somewhat below 4 pCi/L. However, EPA believes that any radon exposure carries some risk - no level of radon is safe. Even radon levels below 4 pCi/L pose some risk, and you can reduce your risk of lung cancer by lowering your radon level.
If your living patterns change and you begin occupying a lower level of your home (such as a basement) you should retest your home on that level.
Information on this post was taken from the EPA website:

Testing for radon is the key...

Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon. EPA also recommends testing in schools.
Testing is inexpensive and easy — it should only take a few minutes of your time. Millions of Americans have already tested their homes for radon.

The quickest way to test is with short-term tests. Short-term tests remain in your home for two days to 90 days, depending on the device. "Charcoal canisters," "alpha track," "electret ion chamber," "continuous monitors," and "charcoal liquid scintillation" detectors are most commonly used for short-term testing. Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, a short-term test is less likely than a long-term test to tell you your year-round average radon level. If you need results quickly, however, a short-term test followed by a second short-term test may be used to decide whether to fix your home

Long-term tests remain in your home for more than 90 days. "Alpha track" and "electret" detectors are commonly used for this type of testing. A long-term test will give you a reading that is more likely to tell you your home's year-round average radon level than a short-term test.

Bottom line... testing your home for radon is easy and inexpensive. There are DIY kits available at most hardware stores. Also, there are certified radon testing companies that can handle the testing for you.

Information on this post was taken from the EPA.