Milwaukee & Madison Area



North Eastern Wisconsin Area


[email protected]

Archive for Safety Issues

The Hardest Part of Running a Radon Business

The hardest part of my day.

A few days ago I went to a home in Appleton to do an estimate for a Radon system. This is part of my duties while running the business. After speaking with the owner for a while he let me know the reason I was there. His wife was just diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, which had spread to her brain. They had never heard of Radon gas. After they found out about her diagnosis they tested their home, and it came in elevated. Did Radon cause her lung cancer? We don’t know. We do know she never smoked and never worked in an environment where she would have been exposed to harmful items. I do know that having elevated radon levels in the home did not help and that they had lived there for 17 years.

We are installing a radon system for them this week. I could not charge them for the system knowing what they were going to be going through. It’s sad when I run into this situation, which is about once a month. Maybe this could have been prevented?  If you have lung cancer, there is another organization that can help. It is called Cansar. Their website is www.carsar.org. Take a look, donate if you can. Help us get the message out about Radon induced Lung Cancer.

We don’t know conclusively that Radon caused her lung cancer. But for the little it costs to test your home for Radon, why take the chance? In only a few short days a test can be conducted. If your levels come in low, you are fine. If they come in high, a simple radon system can be installed for around $1,000. Then you can have the peace of mind knowing your home is safe when it comes to Radon gas.


Cancer Awareness

Everyone knows about Breast Cancer awareness and all the activities that take place throughout the year. You see NFL players with pink socks and everyone is wearing pink ribbons. That is all great and I completely support those efforts.

But did you know that Lung Cancer kills more women each year then Breast cancer cases? The CDC statistics for 2011, last available numbers, is 40,000 Breast type deaths in women and 443 in men. For the same year 70,000 Lung type deaths in women and 86,000 in Men.

I just want to get it out there that some forms of Lung Cancer can be prevented. Number 1, stop smoking if you do. Easier said then done I know. Number 2, test for Radon gas and fix if you test high. It’s that simple.

Lets try to eradicate both types of and save some lives. Test for Radon today.





Is You’re System Working

From time to time I will get calls from customers asking if there is anything they should do regarding their Radon system. The good news about Radon systems is that if they are running and quiet, there is not much to really do for maintenance. But you still need to make sure the system is working properly.

What should be done on a semi-annual basis though is to conduct a home Radon test, just to make sure Radon levels have not crept back up somehow. Most of the time levels will still be low, but there have been rare occasions when we had to go back and address an issue that a customer was not aware of to bring levels back down. Their system was working but, a crack developed in the basement slab or a gap opened up at the cold joint. One home owner had taken his sump pump pit lid off and forgot to put it back on the pit and re-seal it.

So, remember to do a Radon test every couple of years to make sure your Radon system is doing it’s job. Chances are the test will come back low. If it doesn’t then give us a call, whether it is our system or not we can take care of it.


Let’s Cover This Again, Fire Collars on Radon Systems!

Okay, this is super important! Here is a picture of a metal fire collar on a Radon system. It is designed to “repair” the damage to a fire wall when cutting through the wall from the basement into a garage for a garage route on a Radon system. One is required on the wall. One is also required if you have a finished ceiling for a fire wall. There is no other way to properly do this. If a pipe melts away from the opening from the garage to the wooden rim joist without a fire collar your home and your life will be in danger very quickly. This could be a small fire that could easily burn out if there is a fire collar installed. Inside the metal is a expandable material that explodes when the heat is high enough to melt the pipe. It fills in the hole with a 2 hour burn. The metal collar has to be in place and installed properly to force that material towards the hole / inward. Without the collar the material would expand outward and be of no use. A fire collar costs about $25. Any company that says they are not necessary, required or just a waste of money are wrong! It’s a good way to underbid a company that wants to do it right. What it comes down to is a company that does not install them are willing to put your home and your life in jeopardy for $50. Is your home and families life worth protecting for $50? To not install them, to me, should be criminal. And finally, if there was a fire and damage to the home was a result. When the insurance company comes to look at the damage, would they notice that no fire collar was installed? Would that prevent them from paying on a claim?

Fire Collar Pic


Brrrrr, Check your pipe

Remember to keep an eye on the U-tube manometer for the Radon system. You don’t want a frozen pipe. If the resistance is dropping towards zero you have a frost cap forming on the top of the system. Luckily it will warm up quite a bit starting on Friday, the 10th and over the weekend. If you have a zero-zero reading it means you have a frozen pipe, but it should take care of itself over the weekend. If not by Monday morning we should be called to come out and check your Radon system. We want to make sure things are working properly and your family is safe from Radon.

If you have an outside system and the resistance is dropping try to reach the top of the pipe with a long rod. If you gently tap the top of it the frost should fly away, preventing a freeze up. If you don’t keep in eye on it and it stays cold an ice cap can develop and shut off the air flow. Again, as soon as the sun comes out and it warms up a bit it should take care of itself. If all depends on how long of a cold snap we get.


Sump Pit Bag

Yesterday a home inspector text me a pic of a sealed sump pit as part of a Radon mitigation system. He said there were no fire collars on the pipe going through the garage, and that he wanted to show me what he has seen before but never took a picture of, the sump pit bag. This certified company, it seams, could not figure out how to seal the sump pit with two pipes coming out of the pit, so he used some clear plastic and duct taped the rest. Unbelievable. I have heard of someone doing this with a pedestal sump pump so the seller of a home could save money. What a nice guy. What he does not realize is that pedestal sump pumps are air cooled. As soon as you cut off the air supply they can overheat and fail. This, with the buyer, who may not know any better, thinking they are safe. Another reason I will not match another companies price. They just don’t do what we do or seem to care about how their work affects anyone in the future


Sump Pit Bag



Can’t do it

We try to look at every home when possible to give customers an idea of what will be involved with their system. But, because we do so many systems sometimes we end up just going to a home and installing the system, especially on Real Estate deals. The agents that use/recommend us know we will do a good job and be honest about what we did. Yesterday we arrived at a home to put a system in that we did not yet see.  I ask as many questions as possible to determine what we are getting into, especially if its a fast sale and closing. This particular home had many open holes with exposed earth, and exposed drains. I had to tell the seller and his agent that a system could not be installed because of the condition of the slab. I explained that some other work would need to be completed before we could install a system. We can use foam here and there, but this home needed some major concrete work and a plumber. A system installed at this home could create a dangerous environment for the new owner. You don’t want to pull air from under the slab and in turn open holes through the slab and open drains. Carbon Monoxide can kill someone if you pull enough air from a home and back draft combustible appliances, such as a water heater. Plus the amount of conditioned air that would be lost would be tremendous in turn raising the cost of heating/cooling the home. I was told they would find another company that was willing to put in a system. Any comments?


I can get someone Cheaper to do the same job

Today I received a call from an Realty agent. He said the buyers had requested our company by name. I said, “great, that’s what keeps us in business.” He then said if it were up to him he would have someone else do it because he knows he could have it done cheaper. I agreed with him, you could have it done cheaper, as a matter of fact I could do it cheaper, but I won’t. I am reminded of a man who came into a tire store I was managing years ago. He was in the market to buy a set of tires for his daughters car, so he just needed the cheap ones. I responded with, I will sell you what you want, but do you really want the cheapest tires on your daughters car? Tires are extremely important when it comes to braking, handling, driving in the rain/snow. They are where the car meets the road. I told him that Michelin’s are the best, and also the most expensive. I then showed him a few sets that were less, but still good quality. I explained why the Michelin’s were more expensive and why I have them on all my vehicles. I even walked him outside to prove to him I had them on my car. Well, he changed his mind and bought the Michelin’s. When it comes to Radon we might be the most expensive  company. But why is that? I could lower my price by not putting fire collars on the pipe in the garage, there’s $50 savings. I could use a cheap, flimsy lid to seal sump pits, another $25 savings. I could not have proper insurance on my company, installers and vehicles, more savings. I could not have my Radon monitors  calibrated on a regular basis, more savings. I could use a cheaper pipe, instead of schedule 40 PVC. I could skip the clamps and J-hooks to support the pipe like we have been seeing on systems. I could do the electrical wrong and save some money. A big savings would be to buy the plastic sump pumps when they are on sale, a savings of at least $75. But would it be right? No. When we seal a sump pit, we install a high quality sump pump with an alarm system. My cost is $150, and that’s what I charge for them. Retail would be $225 with the controller we install. Do you want the cheapest sump pump or a high quality one when the pit is sealed? Fire collars are code, not installing them is wrong. Bottom line is when it comes to your families safety and health, do you want the cheapest system or the best one that will last forever? If your buying a home, don’t settle for what the seller is willing to pay for or with a system from a company that was willing to do it wrong. Demand the best for your family.


How Much Radon Exposure Is Safe?

Image of body expiring radon from lungs.There is no debate. All major national and international organizations that have examined the health risks of radon exposure agree that it causes lung cancer. In fact, it’s the second leading cause of lung cancer, preceded only by smoking. Second hand smoke ranks third.

You’re exposed to some level of Radon, no matter where you live or work, worldwide. But every home and building is different.

Your home’s Radon level could be 1 pCi/L (pico Curies per Liter), while your neighbor’s could be 10 pCI/L.

The EPA recommends that Americans fix their homes when the radon level is 4 pCi/L or more, and that you consider doing so at levels between 2 pCi/L – 4 pCi/L, especially in the area that you sleep in.  The World Health Organization recommends a level of 2.7 pCi/L or below.

Consider that exposure at a level of 4 pCi/L for eight hours per day is the equivalent of 200 chest x-rays per year! So a level as low as 2 pCi/L is like 100 chest x-rays of radiation to your lungs.