Radon mitigation companies
There are a number of different radon mitigation companies in Wisconsin and just like any other home service, choosing the right contractor can become daunting! Here are some tips and tricks to help determine which radon mitigation companies may be right for you.
Radon mitigation companies in Wisconsin do not need to have an industry specific, state licensure. When we explain this to customers, typically, they are beyond concerned. Most often I hear things like, “you are telling me I could hire someone that is drilling holes into my foundation and they don’t need to have any license or certification by law in Wisconsin?!” And the answer it yes, unfortunately that is true. In Wisconsin, if you wanted to start a radon company tomorrow, there are no industry specific licenses or certifications that are holding you back from doing so. Despite this, however, there are national certification boards that do issue radon mitigation and radon testing specific certifications. These certifications typically require classes, relatively difficult tests taken under strict supervision that must be passed prior to certification, as well as continuing education that must be completed every two-years to ensure the contractor is up to speed on any nuances and/or changes in installation or testing protocol. While there are no state laws or licenses required, the Wisconsin Department of Health does recommend that homeowners hire a “certified professional” and they do carry a database of the nationally certified radon pros that do business in the State of Wisconsin on their website.
When choosing a radon mitigation company in Wisconsin, determining that they are a nationally certified contractor through AARST (American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists) and the NRPP (National Radon Proficiency Program) would be the first place to start your vetting process.
After you narrow down your list of nationally certified radon companies in the area, it is important to check with friends, neighbors or even family members and see if they have any recommendations. If no one you are very close with has had radon testing or radon mitigation performed, spread the word about the dangers of gas and check with your local realtors and home inspectors to find out who they may use or recommend. Typically realtors have to deal with radon contingencies in their transactions and they will have a pretty good idea of who are the good radon contractors in the area and who are the bad radon contractors in the area. Similarly, home inspectors inspect a lot of homes and many times perform radon testing themselves. Because of this, they see and inspect many radon systems on a daily basis and may even have some mitigation contractors they refer customers to when radon tests they perform come back elevated. Do not underestimate the importance of what I would call “first person references.” That is, referrals from people you know and trust. Once you obtain your first person references, compare that to your list of nationally certified radon companies and make sure the references you have received are also certified!
After first person references, websites like Home Advisor, Angies List, Google and even Facebook are great 3rd party reference sties to check out because in this day and age, many people will share their experiences with these sources online. Moreover, these aforementioned sites are also a bit more strict in allowing/sifting out real reviews (particularly Angies List/Home Advisor).
Once your short list of national certified radon contractors is vetted through both review sites and personal references, look into contacting those radon mitigation companies and be sure to ask some very specific questions. Take note of response times, who answers the phones right away, and any other customer service red flags that may help narrow your list further during the process. Below is a list of a few questions you should ask when vetting a radon mitigation company:
1. Do you carry insurance? Is so, may I have a copy of your proof of insurance?
This is important because you can check to see if the insurance coverage they carry is acceptable for your project or property. Moreover, if they do not have insurance, its a pretty good indicator you should stay away from that particular radon mitigation contractor.
2. Do you use a licensed electrical contractor and do they pull the proper permit for the work performed?
This is super important for a few reasons. The first is that while the State of Wisconsin does not have any certification or industry specific license requirements for radon mitigation contractors in WI, they do have electrical codes that must be met and followed. The code requires that an electrical disconnect be installed within 6-ft of the outdoor appliance and within the line of sight. It also states that any electrical work needs to be done by a licensed electrical contractor and requires a permit. By failing to pull a permit you could risk fines or even issues closing on your home if you are in a real estate transaction. Unfortunately, many radon mitigation contractors in Wisconsin do not use electricians or pull permits. In fact, most radon mitigations companies in WI do their own electrical work. This is a huge risk to you as a homeowner for a few reasons but mainly because as an unlicensed electrical contractor, if someone were to get injured or damage to the home occurred while performing electrical, the radon mitigation company’s insurance could deny the claim because they are working “outside of their scope of work.” The liability and/or damages to property could fall on you as a homeowner. Moreover, many contractors use “plug and play” solutions or low voltage vans. While this may seem appealing for cost savings reasons, we have found these options to be flawed for a few reasons. The first is that it is viewed as somewhat of a loophole in the industry and while Wisconsin currently does not have any state radon standards or requirements currently they are moving closer toward that everyday. Expect that many of those fans would need to be replaced should future legislation come to fruition. The second reason is failure rate. We replace more low voltage fans and “plug and play” fans within the first couple years in service than any other models. Additionally, most who replace them don’t want to deal with the fan going bad again so they opt to replace it with a traditional fan - which then requires electrical - and now the replacement cost is 2x the cost it would be with a traditional fan in the first place.
3. Does your service include a guarantee to lower the radon levels below 4.0 pCi/L and include a radon mitigation retest? If so, what type of retest is included - is it a do-it-yourself, 3rd party charcoal radon test or is it a digital retest done by the radon mitigation company themselves?
Understanding guarantees can give you a lot of peace of mind and also understanding about the radon mitigation companies policies and procedures. Most quality radon mitigation companies in WI should guarantee the radon levels below 4.0 pCi/L. However, it is not uncommon for companies to not guarantee the levels below the EPA action level if the foundation isn’t properly sealed (as this is a deeper foundation issue) or if there are other foundational construction aspects like dirt and gravel crawlspaces that are not addressed during the 1st phase of the radon mitigation system installation. Moreover, understanding the type of testing post mitigation is extremely important, especially if you are in a real estate transaction. See our explanation on different types of radon testing options in our radon testing near me blog post. It is important to choose a company who’s post mitigation radon testing procedure work best for you and your situation.
4. What warranties come with the system and the components? Do you offer any warranties on your workmanship?
This is an important issue to address and one that you should definitely get in writing. Warranties are only as good as the companies providing them so look at the amount of years the company has been in business and take that into consideration. We often get calls to service systems when they were installed by a radon mitigation company who is no longer in business or the contact number on the paperwork/system labeling is now disconnected. Most radon fan manufactures provide a 5-year manufactures warranty. Anything less than that should be a red flag and more than likely not a professional grade product. Menards and Home Depot often sell “homeowner grade” radon fans that only carry a 90-day warranty. Some contractors may grab these for convenience or in a pinch and install them as a contractor grade radon fan. This ends up coming back to bite you as the homeowner should you have a warranty claim!
5. Does your company have w2 employees or do you use 1099 contractors?
Some companies have employees while others hire independent contractors to sub-contract the work for them. The issue with 1099 contractors is typically quality control, liability and unreliable communication. While I am sure there are good and bad companies on both ends of the spectrum, we have found in our experience that companies who hire employees rather than independent contractors stand behind their work, fix liability issues more diligently because there is more risk to their brand and reputation and answer communications more diligently as everyone works together under one roof. Moreover, theoretically, companies that hire 1099 contractors make their profit on up-charging the sub-contractors price for the job. This can, in some instances, lead to higher prices and poor quality as it is to the advantage of the prime contractor to find the least expensive sub-contractors and charge the highest price for maximized profits.
Hopefully these tips will help you determine the right radon mitigation company for your project. Lifetime Radon Solutions, Inc. has been in business for just over 25-years and we have experience in tens of thousands of residential and commercial radon mitigation and vapor intrusion installations all over Wisconsin and much of the midwest. While I like to believe we are the best company in the country doing this work, I realize our methodology may not work for some homeowners, nonetheless, we wish to use our expertise in the radon industry to help you address this very serious concern. Whether you are looking for a radon company in Wisconsin or you live somewhere else, my team and I would love to offer help and guidance in the matter should you have any other questions about qualified radon mitigation companies!
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Brian S. Thompson