A Radon Mitigation Story

Read this account of a customer’s radon mitigation journey

We tested our house for radon with both a short term (3-day) and a long term (3 month) test. Each showed very high levels of radon. Being somewhat handy, I thought I’d be able to reduce the levels on my own. I encapsulated our crawl space and patched any cracks in the basement floor before installing a wood plank floor over a plastic vapor barrier. After these changes, another test showed the radon level still at 25 pCi/l. So we decided radon mitigation was necessary.

As with most major expenditures, I decided to obtain a number of quotes from reputable licensed radon mitigation companies. I ended up with four quotes that were within a few hundred dollars of each other. Three of the quotes were very similar: putting a suction point in the basement and crawl space. They did vary in the way in which the pipe exited the house.
Then there was Elliott’s quote. Not the least expensive nor the most expensive, but his was the most detailed and offered a much better warranty. He was the only one to mention the diagnostic testing they use to determine the proper area to install the suction points and also determine the size of fan required. He was the only one to suggest a third suction point from our attached garage.

Since our basement is semi-finished, I was concerned that the PVC pipes they ran would look out of place. His install team took this into consideration and you wouldn’t know I had a radon system installed unless I pointed it out.

If your radon level is high – I recommend a call to Elliott and Associates.

Elliott & Associates Helps a School Reduce Cancer Risk

In 2014, there was a growing concern at Pleasantdale Elementary School in La Grange, IL about the number of teachers that had been diagnosed with cancer. As of April, 2014 nine staff members at the school had been diagnosed with cancer.

Members of the Teachers Association of Pleasantdale raised concerns about the health and safety of staff and asked that the district investigate risk factors, including but not limited to water quality, asbestos, mold and radon.

Air quality investigations were conducted and found that there were some minor areas for improvements, but no link could be established between the building’s air quality and cancer among staff members.

Despite the report clearing the school, Pleasantdale District 107 took action to lessen reports of odors and other health concerns, such as air flow in the elementary building.

The school conducted radon testing and some areas of the school were found to have elevated levels of radon. Concerns were raised about radon gas levels at the elementary school and some classrooms, offices and the school gym were vacated and measures were taken to reduce radon in those areas.

Elliott & Associates was hired to install six radon mitigation systems. Radon testing conducted after the installation showed safe levels of radon for the staff and students.

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What a homeowner had to do to make our competitor's system quieter

Noise Is Not Your Friend

So, you thought all radon systems are quiet? Take a look at what one homeowner had to do to try to fix the excessive noise that was coming from one of our competitor’s systems.

This system was so loud, it could be heard inside the house, making the homeowner wrap the fan up as seen in the photo. We were called after the installer of the system could not fix the issue.

The following items are what is wrong with this system:

  1. Metal downspout is used as the exhaust. PVC pipe as the exterior exhaust will always be the quietest system.
  2. Exhaust is attached to the house using minimum standards. The fastener that supports the pipe on the house should be insulated with rubber.
  3. The suction point is located too close to the groundwater sump pit. This creates a potential scenario where too much air gets introduced into the system via exterior drain tiles. Extra, unnecessary air creates more noise.

There are two noises that are generated by the radon system: air flow and vibration. To minimize the noise, the following must be taken into consideration:

  • The amount of CFM (cubic feet of air per minute)
  • The size of the pipe determines how much airflow can be pushed through the system. The best standard would that the air velocity should not be greater than 700 FPM (feet per minute).
  • Excessive noise and back pressure is created when too much air is moved through the pipe. According to the best standard, a 3” pipe should move no more than 34 CFM before the system is too noisy and loses efficiency. A 4” pipe should move no more than 61 CFM, before it too becomes too noisy. The proper sizing of the pipe is important to avoid excessive noise and reduced radon reduction.

Two ways to reduce vibration transfer back to the building is the install a total of four anti-vibration reducing rubber couplings instead of only two. Also, wrap each fastener that supports the exhaust with rubber to reduce the amount of vibration transfer back to the building.

Cleaning the fan blades will also help to keep the fan balanced so that increase vibration does not occur. This should be performed by a licensed radon professional.

The takeaway: Larger diameter pipe and a carefully installed system is best for a good night’s sleep!

How to Avoid or Fix Frozen Pipes

How to Avoid or Fix Frozen Pipes

A frozen pipe is a disaster nobody wants to deal with, but extreme cold can leave anyone’s home vulnerable.

Strong winds, like the weather Northeastern Illinois will experience this week, can make pipes more susceptible to freezing. It makes it more likely that a draft will enter a home and drop the temperature further.

But there are several ways to winterize your pipes:

  1. Close garages – If there are pipes in your garage, make sure to keep the door closed to conserve heat.
  2. Open cabinets – Opening kitchen and bathroom cabinets will allow warmer air to circulate to the pipes.
  3. Let water drip – Let cold water drip from any faucets that are served by exposed pipes.
  4. Leave the heat on – If you plan on being out of town, make sure you do not turn the heat down.
  5. Insulate – As a long-term solution, add insulation to attics, basements, crawl spaces and other areas with housing pipes that are not climate-controlled.

If a pipe manages to freeze and burst despite all your efforts, be cautious when thawing, as water will begin to drip from the broken area. Additionally, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve before thawing broken pipes. Here are a few ways to thaw frozen pipes quickly:

  1. Turn on the faucet – As cold as it may be, running water through the pipe will help it thaw.
  2. Apply heat – Using small handheld appliances such as a hairdryer, electric heating pad or portable space heater, apply gentle heat to the frozen pipes. You can also wrap pipes with towels soaked in warm water.
  3. Call a plumber – If you are unable to identify the frozen area, it is best to call a professional. A licensed plumber will be able to find the frozen area, fix any bursts, and thaw the pipes.
Asbestos Danger

Safety First

I can’t believe that one of our competitors doesn’t value their clients’ safety or the safety of their technicians. In the first month of 2019, I feel compelled to share this story.

The safety of family or individuals is always first over the gain of a dollar. During a recent visit for a radon mitigation estimate for a real estate sale in Wheaton, IL, I was able to visually look into an accessible dirt crawl space through a window. I easily discovered vermiculite on the floor of the crawl space. According to the EPA, vermiculite should be treated as asbestos containing material and should not be disturbed.

Sealing the floor of the crawl space would disturb the vermiculite and would expose the family and technicians to asbestos. Vermiculite would be inadvertently pulled by the technicians from the crawl space, into the basement & throughout the house! Also, the radon mitigation system will collect the asbestos in the crawl and contaminate the outside yard with asbestos. I informed the client of my concerns.

I made a call to the client and they informed me that the other radon company did not mention this safety concern and was going to seal the dirt crawl space anyway. I was shocked. In my eyes, the contactor’s reputation is ruined. The realtor’s reputation is also ruined, who depends on their reputation to open doors for them.

We train our technicians to identify asbestos building products such as vermiculite, thermal spray-on insulation, exterior siding, transite paneling, etc. We train our employees on what the proper procedures are and that safety is always first.

I understand that cost is important. Please remember when hiring a contractor you should also look at the safety of the family during and after the system is installed.

How Radon Enters the Home

Reducing the Risk From Radon: A Guide for Healthcare Providers

The Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors, Inc., has developed a new guide for health care providers titled Reducing the Risk From Radon: Information and Interventions. This guide was designed to furnish health care providers with the information they need to reduce their patients’ exposures to radon. Radon is estimated to cause about 21,100 lung cancer deaths per year and is the leading environmental cause of cancer mortality in the United States.

This guide has the latest information on:

  • Radon statistics and public health impact.
  • The science behind the risk estimates.
  • Radon testing and reduction.
  • Sample guidance for use in health care settings.
  • The role of health care providers in reducing the burden of radon-induced lung cancer.


Reducing Risk From Radon: Information and Interventions

Don’t Let Spring Rain On Your Parade

Spring rain is a part of life in many areas, and there’s little you can do to stop it. However, what you can do is protect your home and make sure it doesn’t cost you a lot of money in damages. Use these tips to make sure your house is prepared for the downpour that’s on its way.

  • Check your roof, windows, attic vents, chimneys, windows and doors for any damage. Leaks aren’t just going to damage your home through the roof, so take the time to walk around and inspect all possible areas.
  • Clean your gutters or have your landscaping or gardening service make sure that they’re clear. Gutters that are too full with leaves and debris can damage your roof and create costly repairs for you this spring. Leaves are mostly likely to have gathered during the late fall and winter, too.
  • Check the foundation carefully. Take time to clear away debris.  If necessary, add fill dirt. Note any areas of cracking
  • Check appliances to make sure they’re properly connected. Think of this as a spring cleaning tip – water damage from those appliances can damage your home worse than the rain.
  • Inspect your trees. The heavy winter snows may have damaged your trees, and any maintenance repairs should be done as quickly as possible before expected spring storms arrive.
Radon Number One Cancer Killer of Women

Women’s Lung Health Barometer

As the #1 cancer killer of women, lung cancer takes the lives of more women than any other cancer. Yet, according to the American Lung Association’s 3rd annual Women’s Lung Health Barometer — a survey of over 1,000 American adult women that measures their awareness, knowledge and perceptions about lung cancer — 98 percent of women do not have lung cancer on their health radar. Awareness is critical because if lung cancer is caught before it spreads, the likelihood of survival more than triples. Read More

 

Read the Media Summary

View the Infographic

Radon on the periodic table

Is It Safe To Buy a Home With Elevated Radon Levels?

Is it safe to buy a home with an elevated radon level? Yes, says a recent article from Consumer Reports.

Performing a radon test and remediating an issue, if found, should not keep you from owning or selling your home. In many cases, the price of the home can be adjusted during the sale to incorporate the added cost of a radon mitigation system (an average of $1,200).

When installed by a qualified professional, radon systems safely remove the carcinogenic gas, reducing a home’s radon level and creating a healthier environment for the family who lives there.

Read more on the topic here.