Bad Radon Systems
Poorly Designed Systems
Every system shown here (i.e. the vertical pipe ending partway up the wall) violates one or more EPA radon design standards. As a result, roughly 500,000 picoCuries of radiation per minute is being dumped within a few feet of windows, where it can easily be drawn back into the house. These poorly designed systems may have significantly increased the radiation exposure of the families living in these homes.
These systems were all installed by a Michigan contractor who was finally removed from the EPA's "qualified" list in 1997. He is still in business, and until very recently even continued to advertise his now-invalid EPA ID number. Now he has gone so far as to use the EPA logo on his proposals!
This contractor also claims to hold "every required state and federal license available." FACT: Neither he nor his company holds any kind of radon proficiency certification whatsoever. There is no such thing as a federal license for radon contractors, and the only "required" Michigan license is a builder's (or other trade) license, which his company does not hold.
His promotional materials are filled with disparaging remarks (false and silly) about his competitors, and grand promises ( e.g. a "lifetime" guarantee to keep radon at less than 50% of the EPA guideline). Promises are easy to make; what counts is whether they are honored. One State of Michigan official has gently described his company's record as "less than exemplary," and characterized his sales materials as "deceptive."
Don't let this (or worse) happen to you. Either choose Protech or one of our legitimate competitors.
This system runs through the garage attic instead of up the side of the house, a nice design. Done right, this is called the "hidden fan" option. Unfortunately, the Building Code requires a fire collar around the pvc pipe wherever it penetrates the fire barrier between garage and house. Then if there is ever a fire in the garage, the collar would close and restore the integrity of the fire barrier. The contractor saved about $50 by neglecting this life-saving feature.
The contractor who installed this system thought he was really clever to hide the fan in the basement (see 2nd photo) and to run the pvc pipe inside the chimney.
The second photo shows what it looks like on the inside. The weird contortions were needed to avoid the footings on the chimney ... we guess. See the metal water heater flue in the background? Guess where that goes. Right! Into the same chimney. The city building inspector was not happy, and red-tagged the house. Several hundred dollars later the homeowners were back where they started. With a radon problem. But at least the fire hazard had been removed.
This system conforms in every way to the EPA guidelines. It's the guidelines that are bad, not the system. In harsh winter conditions, the air being pulled from the ground cools before it can be expelled. Remember what happens on the outside of an iced tea glass in Summer? Condensation. In sub-freezing weather, the condensate freezes, and can choke off the exhaust, completely disabling the radon protection. (That's an ice spike at the exhaust.) Solution? EPA should permit ground level exhaust in cold climates.