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.
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
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
- 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
- A guarantee to reduce radon levels
to 4 pCi/L or below, and if so, for how long?
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
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
- 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.