When choosing the right contractor to install a radon mitigation system in your home, there are a few major factors to consider other than just the price on the quote. By far the biggest factor is certification. In this article, we will discuss the importance of radon mitigation certification and what to look out for when choosing the right company to lower your radon levels to a safe range.
For many homeowners, price is a big concern when it comes to home improvement projects, and it can be easy to just choose the least expensive option when it comes to radon mitigation (which admittedly isn't the flashiest home improvement project). However, with radon mitigation going cheap can end up being expensive, and in ultra rare cases even deadly.
In the state of Wisconsin (along with many other states across the country) there are no laws requiring radon mitigation companies to be certified, therefore, there are a decent amount of uncertified and inexperienced contractors throughout the state offering low priced radon systems.
What does this mean?
Choosing a radon mitigation company that holds certifications from organizations such as the National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP), and the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB), can ensure that the installer will follow the proper procedures and codes necessary to not only install a system that is almost guaranteed to work, but also pass inspection when the home goes up for sale. Without certification, in theory you could be getting someone who has no prior knowledge or experience with radon removal.
What can happen if I do hire an uncertified contractor?
There is a lot more to radon mitigation than just inserting a ventilation pipe and a fan into the slab and hoping for results. The type of mitigation fan used and the placement of the suction point play a large role in the success of the system. We constantly field calls from homeowners who used a “cheaper option” and retested their home only to find that the radon levels were still high, and when they called the company back to fix it they refused to answer the call. The problem with many uncertified contractors is that they are often only in the mitigation business for a quick buck before they move onto the next trending home improvement business. They are not interested in servicing systems they have already installed because their company's reputation doesn’t matter as much. You will also commonly find that the materials these contractors use are typically the bottom of the barrel in terms of quality. Not all radon mitigation fans are created equal, and the model and brand make a big difference.
The state of Wisconsin requires a licensed electrical contractor to install, repair, or maintain any electrical wiring and a master electrician to be responsible for the work. Electrical work also requires that a permit be pulled from the municipality. In many cases, uncertified radon contractors will perform their own electrical work to save on costs so they can undercut certified companies when performing estimates. Not only is this incredibly dangerous, but if the inspector comes around and finds that there wasn’t a permit pulled for the radon mitigation system electrical hook up, both you and the contractor will receive a steep fine. At Lifetime Radon Solutions, Inc. we work with a master electrician that offers a flat rate to all of our customers, so you can rest easy that any electrical work will be done correctly with the proper permitting in place. Click HERE to learn more about the dangers of hiring a radon company that doesn't utilize licensed electricians.
It’s not often that we hear of these situations occurring, however it has happened that an uncertified contractor caused a home fire due to shoddy electrical work. As mentioned before, any electrical work for the radon fan hook up must be done by a master electrician or you risk a fine or even a fire. As for carbon monoxide, one example is that there are certain homes that have what we call “weeping wall” — which is basically an open gap between the wall and floor that allows water to run down the basement walls and back into the drain-tile. If this weeping wall is left open when a radon mitigation system is installed, the air being pulled from the system will not be exclusively pulling from the soil, but instead will be pulling from those openings in the basement. If the home has an older water heater, this can draw out the carbon monoxide from the water heater and “backdraft” it through the living space. Certified companies train their installers to look out for these things and will seal that weeping wall down during install, however many uncertified contractors will overlook this to save time and money.
The vast majority of uncertified contractors are one man operations, which means it can be tough to reach them. Additionally, they make money off of initial installs, not service calls on systems they have already installed. So what we hear on a daily basis from new customers calling in is that they cannot get a hold of the company that installed their system when they need them the most. Most of the main radon fan brands offer a warranty that can only be used by the purchaser, so if you cannot reach the company you had your system installed by, you may have to pay for an entirely new fan and the service charge with a different company that you can actually contact. This is by far the biggest factor to consider if you are planning on living in the home you are installing the system in for longer than a few years.
Unfortunately we have run into some really poorly installed systems from uncertified contractors that have to be removed and entirely replaced. There is an alarming trend of uncertified installers placing the fan in the basement and piping the system right out of the side of the home without venting above the roofline. While this could be a good “aesthetic option” and is easy to install, it is absolutely not up to the radon standards set forth by ANSI/AARST and will be flagged on inspection. When this type of system gets flagged, you will have to pay a company like ours to come out and remove the old system and then install an entirely new system. So by saving a few bucks on the initial install, you may have to to pay double in the long run. It is always best to have your system installed properly the first time even if it costs a couple hundred dollars more.
We aren’t saying that every single uncertified and inexperienced contractor will cause major issues, however you do run a much higher risk of these things happening when you go with an uncertified company. Not every installer at the company needs to be certified, but make sure that the company you choose at least has a few certified technicians and some experience in the industry. Lifetime Radon Solutions, Inc. is a member of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) and our technicians are certified for radon mitigation and radon testing by the National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP). Give us a call for a free quote!
Lifetime Radon Solutions Inc.