Guarantee / Warranty / Certification
The slab could be treated around the perimeter and / or the fan taken off in the fall to make sure there is no more build up. If there is, a wire brush can be used to clean the fan fins. The only time any kind of maintenance would need to be done on a system is if there is a history of it. We do not know what kind of bug larvae causes this problem.
The other time a fan would not be covered under warranty is if someone turns off or unplugs the fan and it sits for a month or two. The fan will become rusted inside and then may not work when turned on again. A fan turned off in the winter will lock up because moisture in the exhaust pipe will come down into the fan and freeze. These fans are made to stay on 24 / 7 and should only be turned off if we recommend it over the phone or if the system is being worked on. If someone goes on vacation or south for the winter the system / fan should be left on. The money saved by turning if off is only a few dollars, but if the fan does not work after turning back on, it could cost a few hundred to replace.
We put a written guarantee on our contracts and then sign it. If we didn’t follow up on a system that failed a Radon test after the first time, (and there have been a couple) then we would be opening ourselves up for litigation, and wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if it went to court.
We can provide proof of our great follow up from the few customers that have had this experience. You can read more about a home that we had trouble getting to pass on the first, second, third, fourth try. And remember, many times we are not guaranteeing just 3.9 pCi/L, but 1.9 pCi/L.
This home is in Neenah, my home town. I suggested after many trips and failed tests that the owner could call another company that does Radon mitigation work if they wanted to, because they might see something we were missing. My main concern was to get the home to pass a Radon test. I didn’t tell the owner to call someone else because I was giving up and didn’t want to deal with him anymore, as our competition will tell you. If there was something we didn’t think of, then I was open to trying it.
The only suggestion from the other company was to dismantle one of the systems that was installed and relocate it because they thought there might be some blockage restricting the air flow. Relocating a suction point/system in this case was not a viable solution in my opinion because of the low resistance on the U-Tubes on both systems, meaning the air is moving very quickly or no blockage.
Our competition used this one home for the basis to put an add in the local Yellow Pages that stated, “Ask Us About Phony Guarantees.” This ad was directed toward our company and the initial failure of the systems at the home in Neenah. Even though the home has since passed, with no modifications by our competitor, with a level of 0.8 pCi/L, which is close to outside air conditions. Instead of using this home as a kind of case study in conjunction with our business, they used it as an opportunity to slander our company. They are telling people that they are continuing to do diagnostic testing at the home. What would be the purpose after you get a passing test? We understand why the home initially failed. The only reason they want to be in that home is to find something so they can speak negatively about our company.
Let me state this: We will make as many trips as needed, take as much time as needed, and consult with as many experts that I know that have been in the Radon business since its inception, in order to get a home to pass a Radon test. This business is a corporation, but I (David Daniels) am the sole stock holder. This business is the only source my family has to rely on for income, and we have invested everything we have into this business. There is no way that I would jeopardize our family’s future for any reason. I would rather not get a job and be honest than get one by unethical means. The home in Neenah took a very long time for the suction field to set up and pull enough air from across the slab instead of vertically though a crack in the earth created when they used explosives to blast for the foundation. This home has passed a Radon test with a long term test, which is the best way to conduct a test if you have time on your side. If the home had failed the long term test there were a few more options in approaching a fix.
Fortunately the long term test came in at 0.8 pCi/L. As a Christian based company I will not speak ill willed of our competitors. Every one that installs Radon mitigation systems does similar things and most systems will pass on the first try. We feel however that the things we do different and with what we offer, we will provide the best overall service and install the best overall Radon mitigation system. We have a link to references on our home page and can provide a list of hundreds of satisfied customers, which include owners of local Real Estate companies that used our business to install systems in their own homes, and builders like Andrew Homes, Schmidt Brothers Custom Homes, Leppla Homes, Homes by Bill Rounds, Vans Construction & Classic Homes, Rucon Construction, J & S Homes, Keystone Homes, Flagstone Construction, Jon Huss Construction, Baylakes Homes, Benchmark Development, Tim Pack Const., Kenlin Homes, Portside Properties, Providence Const, Wick Homes and the list goes on and on and on and on.
Two organizations certify radon mitigators. We belong to the NEHA (National Environmental Health Association). The other certifying organization is the NRSB (National Radon Safety Board). There is no reason to be members of both. The NRSB will certify you if you provide proof of certification with NEHA and send them a check.
We are also members of AARST (American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists). AARST recently purchased NEHA, which will help maintain standards and pass along any new information. I’m a member of AARST to stay on top of new technologies or methods for testing and mitigation. I attend their national syposium every other year.
The State of Wisconsin offers no certification or license, but simply adopts the certification of NEHA or NRSB and puts out a contractor’s proficiency list.
The first system lowered the Radon readings from 20 pCi/L to 10 pCi/L. We then installed a fan that could suck out twice the air volume. After another test, the results came back at about 8 pCi/L. We then thought that maybe something was blocking the air flow under the slab, so we installed the second system directly into the sump pit. With an inner & exterior drain tile running into the pit, we could pull air through every perforation in the drain tiles. Every perforation acts as though we cut another suction point through the slab.
After one more test the results came in at 6 pCi/L. The systems are moving about 400 cfm, which is a lot. Normally, a home can get the levels lowered with less than 50 cfm. After many trips to the home, and much consultation with other mitigation companies, we came to two possible conclusions. #1 if there are large cracks in the ground under the home, there is no system for a home that will reduce the levels all the way down. #2 is the Radon coming from the building materials? Probably not, because we have treated other homes in the area that are the same age, and most builders hire the same companies for foundation and drainage work. If there had been a plastic membrane put down before the gravel was poured for the sub slab material, there wouldn’t have been a problem in reducing the levels.
We are going to conduct a long term test on this home next, which will last three months. Hopefully by that time the systems will have lowered the levels to below 4 pCi/L. (GOOD NEWS !! THE LONG TERM TEST RESULTS CAME IN AT 0.8 pCi/L. So, it took some time, but the systems did end up pulling enough air from under the slab. Thank God.)
Sometimes when a system is installed and there are drain tiles exposed to daylight there could be a problem. With open drain tiles air from outside is pulled in instead of air under the home sucked out. A backflow prevention device can be installed on the exposed drain tile to take care of that problem.
Some systems with pipes smaller than 3 inches can prevent enough airflow from reducing levels, and tend to freeze up in the winter.
If there is a large basement, and no sump/drain tile system, with clay or wet sand for sub slab material it may not be able to be treated. One suction point may not be enough for this situation, and a very strong fan would be needed. Homes like this are usually older. They may also have block walls separating rooms in the basement. If these walls have footings, they may cut off the air flow to remove the Radon. We may not guarantee a system in a home like this if we can not install multiple suction points. We would do everything possible to get the levels lowered, but it is all about physics. If you can’t pull enough air, you won’t reduce levels.
Second reason, and this is the most important … no one is living there. A vacant home gives the lowest possible Radon levels. If we test a vacant, new construction home, the test will only be valid under those conditions. As soon as you move in and start using kitchen fans, bath fans, opening & closing external doors, use the furnace or air conditioning, the Radon levels in the home will rise. This is because the vacuum effect of the home will increase, which pulls more Radon into the home. It’s not uncommon to see a new or vacant home pass a test at 2 pCi/L. Then six months later, after someone moves in and performs another test, Radon levels come in at 6 pCi/L or even higher. I’ve seen this happen many times. If you want a Radon test on a new and/or vacant home, you may want to write something in the contract, stating that you want to have this test performed after you move in.
- Seal sump pit by plumber $100-$150
- Replace pedestal sump pump with submersible (if needed) by plumber $225
- Drill hole through slab and make suction point by concrete cutting company $200-$275
- Install piping from slab up through roof by plumber/pipe fitter $600
- Install roof flashing by roofer $150
- Install electrical by electrician $100
- Radon fan $150
- Post Radon test: $25 for home owner (non real estate), $100 for real estate transactions
Total $1,325 to $1,500 … or $1725 with sump pump. We do all the above in one trip and are qualified to do all the work. $800 is a bargain! By the time you add up all the expenses to get someone to your home, purchase the supplies for a system, plus cover the day to day expenses such as insurance, gas, salaries, mortgage, utilities, advertising and etc., it averages $700 to $750. So we make very little profit charging what we do. If someone is less expensive than us, they may not be including all the necessary items in a system or doing the electrical properly, so make sure you compare system to system, item to item. If someone else does what we do they probably can’t match our price. We do far more systems than anyone else and can buy items in bulk, where they will not be able to.
Installation Best Practices
Remember that the Radon on the exhaust side of a fan can be hundreds of pico curies if not a thousand. If the fan assembly leaked and you didn’t realize it, you could be exposed to extreme levels of radiation. The vent must be a certain height & distance from openings is to protect you from possible exhaust entry into the home, which could contain extreme levels of Radon. If you have an active Radon system and the vent is not a proper height or distance from openings, or the Radon fan is in livable space, you should turn off the system until it can be fixed. An improper system poses a greater threat to you then living with the original Radon levels.
This debate is mainly over aesthetics. If the height and distance requirements can be met, why continue the pipe any higher? This standard would prevent the pipe from going out the back of the garage roof on multi-story homes. All systems would have to be routed up through livable space to reach the highest eve. This guideline was written in the 80’s when mitigation was in its infancy. The AARST and concerned independent businessmen, such as me, are trying to change this guideline. Because there has not been any documented proof of any benefit of this guideline, we deviate from it. Each system will meet every guideline, such as a minimum of 10 ft off grade, 2 ft above openings or 10 ft from the opening.
If Radon can no longer enter where you caulked or sealed a sump pit, it will seek out another area to enter. It may take awhile, maybe a few months, but it will happen. Remember, the pressures have not been changed in the home. Sealing cracks may also be a waste of time & money. If the home is newer, a plastic layer should have been laid down before the slab was poured. This layer is for moisture control and helps slow Radon. It also helps create a tight suction field when an active mitigation system is installed. However, if there are large gaps at the cold joint, they should be caulked because the plastic probably does not go all the way to the foundation wall. Levels will be different with every test.
If you do these things to get a passing Radon test you might get lucky. However, you have to know what the goals are of the buyers. Do they want a consistent low level every hour, everyday? Sealing the pit will not achieve this. Many people call us to have this done, and we will do it. But, there is no guarantee that you will have consistent low levels. One of the builders we work for is Schmidt Brothers Custom Homes. We actually put in a proper passive system during construction. (Schmidt Brothers now has ADC systems installed in every home.)
In addition, Schmidt Brothers also has sealed sump pits installed, and a thick plastic layer put over the gravel before the basement slab is poured. Once the home is finished we conduct a Radon test with a continuous monitor. About 50% of the homes fail the test, so we end up adding the Radon fan to make the system active. Another Radon test is conducted, and the levels are almost always below 1 pCi/L. So, if sealing a sump pit took care of a Radon problem, and they have a proper passive system installed, then why are we installing systems in homes that have every crack sealed, the sump crock sealed & vented?
It’s simple, to get rid of Radon you need to change the pressure that is under the slab of the home. The best, most economical, and most effective way is to have an active mitigation system installed. If the home is being sold, and the level was tested at 5 pCi/L then the pit is sealed and another test was done which came in at 3.5 pCi/L you can give the buyers that test. What happens if they do another test 6 months down the road and the levels are back up to 5 pCi/L? Without actively sucking it out, levels will be inconsistent. The problem was not fixed. Lets say their 2 kids played in the basement every day for at least a couple of hours for 3 years before they did another home test and their test comes in at 5 pCi/L. What do you think they are going to do when they find out that their kids were exposed to levels that are above the EPA recommended levels? You just opened yourself for a lawsuit, which will cost a lot more than having an active system installed from the start. When the buyers received that passing test of 3.5 pCi/L, they were under the assumption that the problem was permanently fixed. Our goal is to fix the problem, not put a bandage on it and hope we get one passing test. The goal is always to get levels to as close to outside air levels, which are 0.4 pCi/L.
If we hear air whistling after the system is up and running, then we’ll caulk that air leak. If our smoke bottle shows large air leaks at an expansion joint or cold joint, we’ll caulk. But in the case of small spider cracks or a small gap at the cold/expansion joint we will not caulk. Some air should be pulled down, under the slab to “condition” the air under the slab. This helps keep the basement a little warmer in the winter, and helps to lower moisture in the summer. In either case, it makes the basement space more livable and can help lower energy bills. With proper attention to the amount and size of any and all air leaks, and caulking those that should be caulked, there is virtually no risk of appliance back-drafting.
If outside air is coming in where the house meets the foundation, then your Radon system will suck that outside air into the home. These leaks should be sealed to make the home tighter and reduce your energy bill.
New studies show that by conditioning the air under the slab with a Radon system, moisture levels are lowered and the dehumidifier runs less. Some customers tell us their dehumidifiers no longer kick in at all. Other customers tell us that they no longer have moisture on the windows in the winter. This is where being a member of AARST comes in handy. Unless you go to the seminars, receive their mailings, and participate in studies, you won’t know of the changes in your industry. How then can you install the best possible system for your customers?
The hardest part of radon mitigation is knowing where to install the system. Many things determine where a system can go. First, you have to meet EPA requirements; then consider the location of the HVAC duct work, plumbing pipes, electrical/cable wires, and staircases. There are building codes to meet, such as head clearance, size of holes that can be cut and where. If we only used the sump pit for a suction point, then the system would have to be located near it. What if the pit is in the opposite corner of the basement from the garage? You would not be able to route a pipe from the sump pit, across the basement and out through the garage. A short, straight shot is the best way to go when dealing with Radon. Shorter, horizontal runs are best.
We usually install what’s called a sub-slab depressurization system. It’s a vacuum system that sucks the air that contains the Radon through a single suction point that is cut through the slab. One suction point can treat a very large area if the right material is under the slab. We’ve mitigated buildings over 5,000 square feet with only one suction point. We would be drawing air through the gravel and inner drain tile, which runs to the sump pit. That is why the pit has to be sealed. If the pit were not sealed in this case, then air could be pulled from the basement area. And by sealing the pit we connect the interior & exterior drain tile by air flow.
In some cases in homes that have multi-level foundations, such as a basketball court, home theatre or multi-purpose room that the sump pit or lowest level slab would also need to have a suction point in addition to the possibility of a larger CFM fan. A suction point installed above the lowest level may not be able to reach the lowest level of the foundation, therefore not reducing Radon in that area. Radon typically will be higher in the lowest level of the home. This type of home will need to be visited for the estimate and most likely will cost more than a typical single level foundation home.
If there is sand or clay under the slab, then the sump pit should be used for the suction point. This way we are incorporating the exterior drain tile system to pull the air from under the slab. If the home has gravel, but only an exterior drain tile, and we core a hole through the slab for the suction point, then the sump pit may not have to be sealed which will save you money.
Radon Specialists of WI, Inc
Radon Specialists of WI is the only company in NE WI that makes its living by strictly dealing with Radon, we do not have any other jobs or companies that we work for. Our competition may have started before us, but they don’t have more experience. Since starting in July of 2000 we have installed over 6000 (numbers will be updated periodically) mitigation systems. Almost every home inspector in our area will refer our business to do mitigation work if it is needed. We are a member of AARST, which keeps us up to date on what is happening in the Radon business across the country and holds a international symposium. I didn’t see any of my competitors in Reno NV at the Radon in 2002, or Rhode Island in 2004, Kansas City in 2006, Jacksonville FL in 2007, Las Vegas in 2008, or St. Louis in 2009 or Columbus in 2010.
Our company is also the only one that deals with Radon mitigation that is a member of the Wisconsin, Valley Home Builders Association. We participate in the Oshkosh, Fox Valley and Green Bay home shows where we have given seminars on Radon testing & mitigation.
I truly believe that we do the best job, and will explain what is going to happen and why better than most companies. We may not be the least expensive every time, but there are reasons why that is. When you weigh all the facts, quality of work, the references we can provide and our reputation I think you will decide that we are the best company in our area that does this kind of work.
- No one else has made the commitment to their Radon business like I have. We have greatly increased Radon awareness, education, and quality of installs. No one else has sold the farm like I have, or put in the hours. If you really check out each Radon company and compare operations and employees, reputation and quality you will find that we are the best company to install your system. The only way our competitors will beat our price is if they are doing it wrong.
- Our Five employees are fully trained and certified through the National Environmental Health Association for Measurement and Mitigation (NEHA). This certification is very important to your peace of mind. In the case of real estate transactions that require Radon inspection, most require the measurement company to be certified.
- We’re fully insured and provide you with proof – a copy of our insurance certificate.
- All of our employees have gone through a mentoring program to ensure that our customers get the best possible installation for their money.
- We’re the only company in Eastern Wisconsin that offers the Active Dampness Control (ADC) system, where we and the fan manufacturer guarantee to lower the moisture / humidity in the basement at no extra cost.
- We offer a fully-transferable, lifetime guarantee on all systems we install.
- We’re the only Radon mitigation business in Wisconsin with a dedicated office and showroom for our customers. If a fan fails under warranty and you don’t want to pay a trip/labor fee (after the first year), you’ll be able to bring yours to our office and exchange it … no questions asked. We’re open from 8 am to 4 pm, and available by appointment and phone until 8 pm.
- We’ve expanded our free Radon test program. We’ll travel up to 30-miles to drop off a tester, or you can come and pick up a tester at our shop and conduct the test yourself. The test will be conducted with a Radon monitor (with instructions) that provides a print out when the tester is brought back and allows for some interpretation. You won’t have to wait two weeks to get your results. We have do-it-yourself kits for those who want to save money on labor and install the system themselves. (You must be competent with large tools and there is no warranty on self-installed systems).
- We’ll always look for ways to improve our systems and better serve our customers.
Our business has performed more Radon tests and installed more Radon mitigation systems since July 2000 than any other company in Wisconsin. Before we started in business the average cost of a system was over $1000; fire collars were not being included on systems in order to protect homes; companies were not guaranteeing their work or any certain Radon levels after the system was installed. There was no such thing as a “Free Radon Test.”
We’ve forced all of our competitors (through marketing, quality of work and our guarantees) to lower their prices and raise their quality of installations. Everything we’ve done and continue to do is geared toward customer service and lowering the price of systems to make them more affordable.
Competition has increased quite a bit over the years, and with that the customer always comes out on top. We’ll continue to work with government organizations and Radon organizations on a local and national level to improve techniques and quality of systems.
A guarantee is only as good as the company behind it, so go with the best company, get the best system, price, guarantee & warranty backed up in writing in the contract and quality of work in your system. This business has been around over eleven years and we will be here for many more years to come.