Choosing a Radon Contractor
Rare (and unlucky!) is the person who is experienced at hiring a radon contractor. You will probably spend time researching on the internet, learning all about health effects and the various types of mitigation systems. What’s hard to find is something that will help you sort out competing claims from contractors who want your business.
On this page you will learn how to sort out apples and oranges in comparing bids, and what questions to ask to make sure that you don’t later regret choosing a particular contractor.
An old rule of thumb in contracting is to get three bids and take the one with the middle price. Just be sure that you are comparing apples to apples. Assuming that all bidders will promise to meet the building code and the EPA Radon Mitigation Standards, the differences are likely to be in the details. Here are some things to look out for other than the dollar sign:
- Warranty should spell out what is being promised and for how long. Some contracts contain such handwaving phrases as “lifetime radon removal guarantee” and state that the fan (the one component most likely to fail) is warranted by the manufacturer. You are left to get the return authorization, remove and ship the fan at your expense, and reinstall a month or so later after it has been rebuilt. [Assuming that the manufacturer accepts your claim.] Compare that with Protech’s written warranty.
- Material specifications should be clear. Will you pay extra if check valves must be installed in floor drains? If your sump pump needs replacement, what kind will be used? Will the contractor use a full (and expensive) fire collar where the piping enters the garage, or will he try to get by on firecaulk that was never intended for that purpose? Will the connectors from fan to pipe be black (cheap and ugly) or white (much nicer, surprisingly more expensive). Is the fan housing treated against ultraviolet yellowing? Are rooftop vent pipes painted black or left as sore thumbs?
- Flexibility. Does the contract specify options that you can select at the last minute? Before beginning work, our crew chief will show you exactly where the system can (and can’t) go, and will look for ways to give you the layout that best meets your needs and preferences.
Even more important than this comparison of bids is your evaluation of the contractors themselves. Grade them on the following seven different questions relating to their track records and credentials.
1. Company Longevity?
Look out for the one-man show, especially if the “company” is new. One radon contractor from Howell moved to Florida last year after promising “lifetime” warranties, leaving his customers holding the bag. Most new businesses fail in the first few years, so look for evidence that the business is healthy and will be around when (not if!) your system needs servicing. Verify the company’s history at the Michigan DCIS website.
Protech: Incorporated in 1990. Staff of full time employees (not subcontractors). Great DUNS rating. Officers have a combined 50+ years of construction experience.
2. Better Business Bureau Rating?
A member “supports the Bureau’s services to the public and meets our membership standards, …properly and promptly address matters referred to it by the Bureau, and [is] free from an unusual volume or pattern of complaints…” Learn about a contractor at the BBB website.
Protech: BBB Customer Care member since 1995. Perfect BBB record.
3. Customer References?
- After trying our competitors, all five of the major firms that coordinate radon service for relocation companies have settled on Protech as their preferred provider in Michigan.
- We were selected as the radon contractor for the EPA’s own offices in Ann Arbor.
- Three county health departments selected us for their own offices.
- We invite you to inspect our unexpurgated collection of thousands of customer comment cards, almost all of which are highly complementary.
Protech: When their own health or their reputation is at stake, the experts have chosen Protech. We’ve fixed more than 6000 homes without a miss.
Some Ohio radon companies, and even a few local ones, operate in Michigan without a license. If you choose such a contractor, Michigan law requires you to disclose that fact when you sell your home. You also lose important consumer protections.
Verify licenses at the Michigan website. Note: In May 1992, our company was renamed from Universal Radon Services; to Protech, reflecting our broader services. State records therefore show 1992 as the licensing date.
Protech: Since 1990. Click to see our license
Two organizations provide EPA-recognized certifications; for current rosters see www.nrsb.org, www.aarst.org, or www.neha.org. A listing is important, but by itself only means that the person sat in a classroom for 3-days and then got a grade of at least 70% on a multiple choice test.
Protech’s president is leading a group of nationally known contractors to establish a two-tier certification system; contractors would receive only a “learner’s permit” until they had at least 50 system installations and 2-years of satisfactory customer care.
Protech: Certified radon professionals on staff, one with certifications dating back to 1988.
A licensed builder is required to carry General Liability insurance. Anyone with employees is required by law to carry $500,000 Workers Compensation coverage. True professionals also carry Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance to protect against design or measurement mistakes. Bonding protects against employee theft or other misconduct.
Protech: $2 million general, $2 million E&O, Statutory WC, Bonded workers, (Click to see)
Our staff has served as members of the Quality Mitigation panel discussions at the national radon conference (AARST). They have also worked on the testing and mitigation standards endorsed by the EPA. Our radon managers were once installers themselves (one for his own company); they can fill in for troubleshooting or if in installer calls in sick. No delays, no hassles!
Protech: Managers have field experience. Company is nationally known for innovation and expertise.
Free radon test: You qualify if your neighbor is our customer or (poor misguided soul) has a radon system installed by some else.
Have A Question About Radon Treatment?
Super quick and efficient service of installing a radon mitigation system in the house we were selling. The installers were very knowledgeable and explained the system and the information to pass on to the buyer's. Definitely would recommend.
(a) at least ten feet off the ground,
(b) above the eave (not necessarily the edge) of the roof, and
(c) either ten feet away from, or two feet above, windows.