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.