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Why Hire a Contractor?
EPA recommends that you have a qualified contractor fix your home because lowering high radon levels requires specific technical knowledge and special skills. Without the proper equipment or technical knowledge, you could actually increase your radon level or create other potential hazards. But, if you decide to do the work yourself, get information on appropriate training courses and copies of EPA's technical guidance documents from your state radon office.

Why Use A State-Certified And/Or RPP Contractor?
EPA recommends that you use a contractor trained to fix radon problems. The radon mitigation contractor portion of EPA's National Radon Proficiency Program (RPP) requires contractors to take training courses and pass an exam before being listed as proficient. EPA maintains a list of radon contractors who meet RPP requirements. RPP mitigation contractors carry a current RPP photo identification card and all RPP contractors are required to follow EPA standards to make sure that their work meets minimum quality standards. A number of states have their own contractor certification programs which have additional requirements. Check with your state radon office to see if the contractor you are considering is state certified and/or RPP listed.

How To Select A Contractor

Get Estimates
Choose a contractor to fix a radon problem just as you would choose someone to do other home repairs. It is wise to get more than one estimate, to ask for references, and to contact some of those references to ask if they are satisfied with the contractors' work. Also, ask your county or state consumer protection office for information about the contractors.

Use this check-list when evaluating and comparing contractors and ask the following questions:

  • Will the contractor provide references or photographs,as well as test results of 'before' and 'after' radon levels of past radon reduction work?
  • Can the contractor explain what the work will involve, how long it will take to complete, and exactly how the radon reduction system will work?
  • Does the contractor charge a fee for any diagnostic tests? Although many contractors give free estimates, they may charge for diagnostic tests -- these tests help determine what radon reduction system should be used, but are not always necessary (see "Radon Reduction Techniques" below for more on diagnostic tests).
  • Did the contractor inspect your home's structure before giving you an estimate?
  • Did the contractor review the quality of your radon measurement results and determine if EPA testing procedures were followed? [An RPP requirement]

Compare the contractors' proposed costs and consider what you will get for your money. Take into account the following: a system that is less expensive to install may have higher operating and maintenance costs than a system that is more expensive to install; the best system for your house may be the more expensive option; and the quality of the building material will affect how long the system lasts.

  • Do the contractors' proposals and estimates include: Proof of liability insurance and being bonded and licensed?
  • Proof of state certification and/or RPP Listing?
  • Diagnostic testing prior to design and installation of a radon reduction system?
  • Installation of a warning device to caution you if the radon reduction system is not working correctly? [An RPP Requirement]
  • Testing after installaton to make sure the radon reduction system works well? [An RPP requirement]
  • A guarantee to reduce radon levels to 4 pCi/L or below, and if so, for how long?

The Contract
Ask the contractor to prepare a contract before any work starts. Carefully read the contract before you sign it. Make sure everything in the contract matches the original proposal. The contract should describe exactly what work will be done prior to and during the installation of the system, what the system consists of, and how the system will operate. Carefully consider optional additions to your contract which may add to the initial cost of the system, but may be worth the extra expense. Typical options might include a guarantee that the contractor will adjust or modify the system to reach the promised radon level, or an extended warranty and/or a service plan.

Important information that should appear in the contract includes:

  • The total cost of the job, including all taxes and permit fees; how much, if any, is required for a deposit; and when payment is due in full.
  • The time needed to complete the work.
    An agreement by the contractor to obtain necessary licenses and follow required building codes.
  • A statement that the contractractor carries liability insurance and is bonded and insured to protect you in case of injury to persons, or damage to property, while the work is done.
  • A guarantee that the contractor will be responsible for damage and clean-up after the job.
  • Details of warrenties, guarantees, or other optional features, including the acceptable resulting radon level.
  • A declaration stating whether any warranties or guarantees are transferable if you sell your home.
  • A description of what the contractor expects the homeowner to do (e.g., make the work area accessible) before work begins.

Does Your Contractor's Work Meet RPP Requirements?
There are certain basic requirements that all radon reduction systems should meet. RPP Mitigation Service Providers (formerly known as RCP Contractors) must meet the following performance standards (for a complete list of RPP standards call your state office). Some states have similar requirements: Radon reduction systems must be clearly labeled. This will avoid accidental changes to the system which could disrupt its function.

  • The exhaust pipes of soil suction systems must vent 10 feet or more above the ground, and away from windows, doors, or other openings that could allow the radon to reenter the house.
  • The exhaust fan must be located in an unlivable area. For instance, it should be in an un-occupied attic of the house or outside - not in a basement!
  • If installing an exhaust fan outside, the contractor must install a fan that meets local building codes for exterior use.
  • All active radon reduction systems require electrical connections that must be installed according to local electrical codes.
  • A warning device must be installed to alert you if the system stops working properly. Examples of system failure warning devices are: a liquid gauge, a sound alarm, a light indicator, and a dial (needle display) gauge.
  • A warning device must be placed where it can be seen or heard easily. If your monitor shows that the system is not working properly, call a contractor to have it checked.
  • RPP contractors must make sure a follow-up radon test is done within 30 days of system installation, but no sooner than 24 hours after your system is in operation with the fan on, if it has one. To test the system's initial effectiveness, a 2-7 day measurement is recommended. Test conditions: windows and doors must be closed 12 hours before and during the test, except for normal entry/exit.
  • RPP contractors must recommend that you get an independent follow-up radon measurement. Having an independent tester perform the test, or conducting the measurement yourself, will eliminate any potential conflict of interest.

Your RPP contractor should also check that your radon reduction system's warning device works. Make sure your contractor completely explains your radon reduction system, demonstrates how it operates, and explains how to maintain it. Ask for written operating and maintenance instructions and copies of any warranties.