U-Tube Levels Can Indicate Sump Pump Issues

The u-tube (manometer) is a gauge that measures negative air pressure inside the radon system pipe. It is usually installed on the main suction point in the basement, but may be located in a garage or crawl space. The u-tube has red or blue non-toxic liquid in it. Viewing the u-tube should be done at least once a month to confirm system operation.  During the initial installation of the radon system, the u-tube was marked , identifying the initial pressure levels of your system. (Not all systems will have the same pressure readings.)

The levels on the u-tube may fluctuate or change slightly over time. However, if the levels on the u-tube become considerably further apart,  this might indicate that there is ground water collecting under the floor, thereby restricting air-flow to the radon system.  This is a strong indicator that the sump pump has failed. The sump pump should be repaired or replaced immediately.  If you do not have a ground water sump pump and it has rained,  the water under the floor will subside within a couple days to a week and then the negative pressure  inside the system will return to normal levels.

PFE Testing Is Key to System Success

Would you ever build a house without using an architectural plan? You certainly could, but it would be a bad idea. Additional cost overruns and delays would be just some of the consequences.

This is like installing a radon system without performing Pressure Field Extension (PFE) tests and grab sampling to prior to installing a radon mitigation system.  If you want to spend more money, be unsatisfied with the end results, have a higher risk of lung cancer, and not meet dead-lines,  then hire a contractor that does not perform PFE and sniffer testing prior to the install.

Even if you are selling,  the risk of not performing PFE and sniffer testing is significant. If you want to get the best system, then depend on PFE and grab sampling.

We perform PFE testing on every radon mitigation system we install. We perform pressure field extension (PFE) testing by drilling test holes (approx. ½” dia.) or using existing openings in the slab, applying vacuum to one of the holes and smoke to another hole to examine air-flow under the building. If PFE results are poor or inconclusive, grab sampling will be performed to help locate areas in the slab with the highest concentrations of radon. This assists us in providing the most efficient system design.

Cheap of the Cheap

I recently got a call from homeowner who had a radon mitigation system that was installed by a another radon mitigation company that was put out of business by the Illinois State Attorney General.  This contractor is known as one of the “CHEAP OF THE CHEAP” contractors and we knew that the price they were charging was too good to be true. We predicted that they would go out of business, leaving all of their customers with no warranty.  Hundreds of owners fell for their cheap prices. The homeowner informed me that  the system was approximately five years old;  had already failed, and the radon levels were just as high when the home did not have radon mitigation system.

If a contractor’s price is too good to be true, that means they are not doing something: not caulking properly, improper electric work, not inspecting the sump pump, shoddy workmanship. All of these shortcuts can lead to higher cost of ownership, risk of flooding, and mold growth potential. All of these risks could cause thousands of dollars of damage.

Another issue with CHEAP OF THE CHEAP contractors is customer service. Some contractors don’t have the resources to return phone calls at all, or in a timely manner should a problem arise. This is especially true during the busy summer months . We receive a steady stream of calls from our competitors’ customers who need their radon system serviced so they can get to their closing, service their sump, replace their fan or just answer a simple question. We employ several full-time office staff and have maintained a detailed database of all of our installations since 1995.

The lesson to be learned: when making a buying decision, base your decision on who provides the lowest cost of ownership (best value) and provides the safest radon levels, not who is the cheapest.

Rebates and low-interest loans to make your home more comfortable and save on your energy bills

Make your home more comfortable, lower your utility bills, and increase your home value by improving your home’s energy efficiency! Energy Impact Illinois is working in your community to help make energy efficiency upgrades as easy as possible by helping you qualify for rebates, guiding you to the best resources, and answering any questions you have.

1) Call to set up an appointment and learn more: 1-855-9-IMPACT. For homeowners in Nicor gas territory, they will connect with the utilities program provider who will guide you through the entire process. In Peoples or Northshore Gas territory, they will connect you with an energy efficiency contractor that has met our high standards. Contractors will perform an energy assessment on your home, using sophisticated equipment and years of experience to uncover precisely which energy improvements will be most effective. Normally, this service costs $400 or more, but for Energy Impact Illinois homeowners, it’s only $99 for a single family home.

2) Get an energy analysis and cost estimate. Once the assessment is complete, the contractor will provide an estimate for air sealing and insulation – and other improvements that might be useful. Air sealing and insulation are usually the most cost effective and longest lasting energy efficiency improvements you can make. The estimate will include any utility rebates you may be eligible for. They also have attractive loan options if you want to finance the rest of the cost or go beyond basic energy efficiency.

3) The contractor completes the work. Energy Impact Illinois will handle all the paperwork and ensure the work was done correctly and safely. You’ll start seeing the savings and feeling the comfort.

Why air seal and insulate? Over half of your total energy costs come from heating and cooling your home, and almost all homes (even new ones) let too much air escape or penetrate. It’s like turning on the AC in the car with your windows rolled down. Air sealing solves this problem. Also, most homes have incorrectly installed or insufficient amounts of attic insulation. You wouldn’t brave a Chicago winter without a hat, and neither should your home.

What does it cost? The cost for energy efficiency upgrades vary based on the characteristics of each home, but the average cost before any rebate is approximately $2500.

Are you eligible for the rebate? If you have service from Peoples or North Shore Gas, you may be eligible for an attic insulation rebate, depending on how much existing insulation you have. Your contractor will determine your existing insulation levels and provide the amount of the rebate in their proposal. Nicor Gas customers are eligible for a rebate of up to 50% of the project costs, to a maximum of $1250, which is offered by Nicor Gas and ComEd. You must own a single family home or 2-4 unit building to be eligible.

Click here to learn more.