Bad Mitigations...Quick Review of a Certified, EPA Protocol Radon System …
• Per the EPA, a certified Radon Mitigator ( http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/radiation/radon/Lists/MitigProf.htm ) or ( http://www.neha-nrpp.org/ ) must be on-site during the installation of a radon system. Certified radon mitigators not only go through initial training and testing, but on-going yearly courses and testing to hold their certification(s). Don’t ask mitigators if they are certified…. look their certification up and make certain! This is imperative for a real estate transaction as the expectations of the contract are that a certified individual will install a certifiable system to EPA/NEHA/AARST/ASTM protocols. Looking up a person’s certification(s) is easy! Get the installer’s name and certification(s) number from them. Put their certification number into your Internet browser’s address line, and press “Enter” on your keyboard. That person’s certification should pull up, listing their name, and when their certification(s) will expire. Easy and quick!
• All piping used in a radon system must be schedule 40 PVC (1/4” thickness) … no schedule 20 PVC (1/8” thickness) is allowable, as it can crack and leak over time, and is much more susceptible to damage. This is the main issue we find on systems installed by non-certified mitigators. There is typically no “correcting” these systems. They have to be ripped out and re-installed with schedule 40 piping per EPA protocols.
• A radon fan must be installed in a non-livable area of the house. This cannot be a basement or crawl-space area!! A radon fan may be installed in a garage, house attic, or outside the house.
• The radon fan’s exhaust pipe must be run to a minimum height of 10’ from the ground. If a deck or porch is within 10’ of the fan, that deck’s height becomes the “ground level” to measure up 10’, to the exhaust’s discharge. The exhaust’s discharge must also be over 2’ above any window within 10’ of the discharge. If there is a second or third story on the house, the discharge must still be exhausted at least 2’ over any window less than 10’ away.
• A system’s exhaust pipe cannot be covered by a hood or screen per EPA protocol. These devices limit the exhaust flow, and promote freeze-ups in sub-freezing temperatures. The EPA suggests that discharges be above the roofline, although some States have their own additional protocols, up and above the EPA’s “national” protocols.
A bad mitigation is one that doesn't meet EPA protocol or local building codes. EPA protocol demands the fan and its exhaust pipe be in a non-livable space (garage, house attic, or outside... not in the basement!). If a fan, coupling, or seam leaks on a system's fan that's located in a house, it can load the house with 600-1000pCi/L in radon (per EPA), and the occupants of the home wouldn't know it. 600pCi/L is the equivalent lung damage to smoking 800 cigarettes a day ( http://rmeswi.com/3.html ) ! This leaking may not happen now, or next week, but how many tests would a person need to run per year to see if it is leaking? We like to compare it to smoking while refueling your car or lawn mower. It may not be a problem now, or this week, or the week after... but at some point, it could kill you!
Electrical codes also demand that an electrical disconnect or switch be used on any fan 95 watts or larger (200 series+), assessable and within sight of the fan. Building codes demand a fire-collar be installed on the piping when it runs from the house and into the garage, or through the garage ceiling (fire walls) to prevent fire from traveling down the PVC pipe from one area of the house to the next, if a fire should break out.
Also, although not a building code, a wood sump crock top should never be used, as it's a great place for mold to start, then transfer to other places within the house. Only non-breakable crock-tops should be used… neoprene or polycarbonate plastic. Silicone caulk is the only substance to be used on a crock top to make it air-tight. Polyurethane caulk should never be used as it can make the top impossible to remove, making access to a failed pump impossible without a saw... and a good amount of time.
All the following pictures are of systems put in by other mitigation companies that do not meet EPA protocol or local building codes...