Builder Installs Skeletal Radon System Incorrectly, But Passes Inspection

We recently encountered a situation with a builder of a new home in the near western suburbs of Chicago. An Illinois State law requires that a skeletal radon mitigation system be installed in all new construction homes in accordance with the Radon Resistant New Construction (RRNC) Act written in 2013. The RRNC Act is a law in Illinois (read more about it HERE.) The difference between state law and local code is that there is no variation in a law between each village, city or county, but there can be a variation in a code.

We are all human – and even a village inspector can miss a code violation. However, it doesn’t relieve the builder of their responsibility for the violation.

During a recent activation of a skeletal system, we found the following violations after the builder had passed all of the Village inspections:

1. Ground water sump cover was not sealed in an airtight manner.
2. Wall/floor joints and cold joints were not sealed.
3. Other penetrations in the floor were not sealed.
4. The primary suction point was not installed to code – it was buried into the clay below the loose stone. No air movement was even possible.

During the purchasing process, the builder promised that they would fix and resolve any issues with the house. The new owner thought that getting the builder to fix these issues would be easy. He was wrong. Now the builder will not resolve these issues. Their position was that since the Village inspector approved the work, it meant that it passed the inspection and met all codes. Let’s face it – mistakes happen, and a good builder will fix the mistakes and learn from them. This builder refused to meet with us so that we could show him how to correctly install the system according to the law and improve his product.

Think of this analogy: Just because I don’t know the speed limit, does not give me an excuse to speed. And just because a police officer doesn’t catch me speeding, I was still breaking the law by speeding.

I am telling you this story because this is a real health issue and mistakes are being made that need to be fixed. We are doing our best to educate builders, inspectors, property owners, and anyone else who wants to listen about the correct, science-based ways to install a radon system.

We have worked with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), attorney general, and news stations to help our clients get what is legally owed to them. We are here to help you get what you paid for.


Vapor Intrusion System Eliminates Chemical Odors at a McDonald’s

The consistency of great food at McDonald’s is a given. However, recently a patron of a local McDonald’s noticed a chemical taste in the food. He informed the restaurant and they immediately began to investigate the cause of the chemical taste. They determined that the chemical smell came from a recent process that was completed by the Village to re-line the sewer pipes underneath the restaurant. The chemical leaked out of the pipes and into the soil, which in turn was drawn into the restaurant.

The owners tried to stop the odor by sealing around mechanical penetrations in the concrete slab and making sure all traps in the plumbing were functioning properly. The odor did not decrease. The restaurant was looking for an experienced company and got our name from one of our competitors, Guardian Radon Mitigation. We responded on the same day and the system was designed and installed within 48 hours.

The restaurant owner had hired us to install a vapor intrusion mitigation system to address the strong chemical odor. With our science-based design, the system was increased in size to offset the negative pressures that are created when the kitchen exhaust fans are in use during normal operation.

The harmful vapor is now gone and the restaurant can continue to help feed the neighborhood with safe and enjoyable food. We are committed to providing fast, professional installation and expertise to all of our commercial and residential clients.


Not All Radon Contractors Are the Same – Part 1


All radon mitigation companies are licensed by the State of Illinois. However, this license only means that they have a basic understanding of radon and paid the licensing fee – not knowledge of the building codes for a properly constructed radon system. Very few mitigation contractors have the knowledge, experience, and common sense with building codes and construction to properly install a radon reduction system.

To an untrained eye, this looks like a normal radon system. But this system is noisy and has quite a few issues that could affect the sale of your home and the health of your family.

Recently we were hired to perform a post-mitigation radon test for a homeowner in Naperville, IL. The client recently had a radon system installed by another contractor as part of their contractual obligation for the sale of their house.

When the client greeted me, one of the first things that the homeowner said to me was, “can you hear the radon system?” I immediately heard the excessive noise coming from the system. All mechanical systems make noise, but excessive noise that you can hear in the kitchen and family room is not acceptable and will scare any buyer away. If installed correctly and following building codes, radon systems should not be heard.

After I set up my radon testing devices, I started to inspect the radon system. I found the following installation errors:

  • Excessive noise: All exterior wall-mount pipe fasteners had no anti-vibration material affixed. Also, the pipe clamp is forcing the exhaust pipe onto the house, spreading the vibration noise throughout the house. This excessive noise will disrupt the homeowner’s sleep and will kill a real estate deal.
    Solution: Adding anti-vibration material separates the clamp from the pipe and from the house, eliminating vibration noise transferring to the side of the house. Additionally, our type of clamps keep the pipe about ½” off the house except where the clamp is actually attached with the anti-vibration material.
  • Rubber couplings that were used are not specifically designed for radon mitigation systems; the contractor used rubber couplings designed for plumbing, which typically do not have to deal with vibration.
    Solution: We now use special LDVI (Low-Durometer, Vibration-Isolating) couplings. They add a bit more cost but are several times quieter than the standard-issue plumbing couplings that our competitors use.
  • The intake connection to the radon fan did not meet the ASTM E2121 recommendations.
    Solution: To further reduce system noise and improve system efficiency, International Standard ASTM E2121 fan installation recommendations should be followed. In this case, the radon fan should be installed 2.5 feet above the 90 degree elbow.
  • Radon fan was on the same circuit as the sump pump. This electrical code error could cause the breaker to trip, thus the sump pump would not turn on to discharge water within the pit. This could cause thousands of dollars to fix the water damage in the home.
    Solution: Radon fans should never be connected to critical circuits such as sump pumps, ejector pumps, furnaces, smoke detectors, and any motors.

    Radon contractor damaged floor joist due to inexperience
  • Structural damage to floor joists. Defying building codes and destroying the structural integrity of the floor joist should not be the end result of a professionally installed radon system. This contractor did not follow building code and drilled through the floor joist too close to the bottom of it. By code, holes must be at least 2 inches from the top and bottom edges of a joist and maximum hole size is one-third of the joist depth. Family safety and maintaining building integrity is dependent on doing the right job.