Consumer Alert - Radon Mitigation In South Florida                 

10 Tips For Dealing With Radon Issues In SW Florida                 

May 8th, 2010

Read The FL Building Code Requirement For Mechanical Ventilation Systems

The State Of FL Requires That All Plans For Mechanical Systems Be Signed By A FL licensed Engineer Or A State Certified AC Contractor.

This information is directed to home and condominium owners, buyers, sellers and real estate agents in South West Florida.

If a radon test is performed and the radon reading is at 4.0 pCi / L or higher the interested parties should immediately open the line of communication and decide what the next step should be. This decision should be made by the parties directly involved in the transaction. The only advice given by a radon professional should be "The US EPA and The FL DOH Recommend Reducing Indoor Radon Levels That Are At Or Above The Current US EPA Action Level of 4.0 pCi / L. ( Pico Curies Per Liter Of Air ).

If the decision is made to install a radon mitigation system both buyer and seller should be in agreement on the method being used and the company who will do the work. While this is not a requirement it is recommended.

# 1: Selecting a State Certified Radon Mitigation Contractor. There are many qualified contractors to choose from in SW Florida. Verify that the Contractor is State Certified to perform radon mitigation work and the company has general liability Insurance and workers compensation insurance. It is very important to make sure the contractor you choose is properly insured to do the work they are proposing. Using uninsured contractors puts the homeowner at serious risk of lawsuits. If an employee of the contractor is injured on the job site or damage occurs to the building or home as a result of the mitigation process the homeowner could be sued for injury or damage. Because the State does not require a radon mitigation company to provide proof of insurance as part of the licensing requirement it is up to the customer to ask for a Certificate insurance issued by the contractors insurance company.

# 2: When selecting the method of mitigation be sure to read the proposal and warranty very carefully because most radon mitigation contracts will include disclaimers. Be sure the proposal includes the pros and cons of the method chosen and you have a clear understanding of how the system works and what maintenance is required.

# 3: The contractor should provide a complete and thorough proposal including diagrams and component specifications for the equipment they plan to use. The State Of FL requires that equipment used be UL or equivalent listed for safety. The contractor should be knowledgeable of building codes such as firewall penetration requirements. Some radon mitigation contractors have no understanding of building codes or building construction.

# 4: BEWARE of any company stating they warranty or guarantee against mold unless properly insured for mold damage claims. Any claims against mold growth or damage should be verified with the contractors insurance company that the contractor is insured for mold related claims. All general liability policies do not provide financial relief for Mold damage unless specifically stated in the policy. Anything else but this assurance directly from the insurance company is only as good as the paper it is written on.

# 5: Mechanical Ventilation: In most condominiums Mechanical Ventilation systems are the system of choice because of the low cost of installation. Mechanical ventilation is simply the introduction of outside air to the home. These systems can cause major humidity and moisture problems in a home if not properly installed, maintained and monitored. These systems should not be used in condo units larger than 2,200 sq. ft. ( 2,000 sq. ft. preferably. ). These systems should never be used in single family homes, attached villas or town homes.

# 6: Energy Recovery Ventilators ( ERV Systems ) - This system also has limitations but is much better than mechanical ventilation because it will remove a portion of the moisture from the air but not all moisture. These systems only work well if the indoor humidity is low to begin with. If the indoor relative humidity is high ( Above 60% ) than the ERV unit shall not be effective in removing the moisture. Independent energy evaluations and specifications should be provided to the customer for review and independent evaluation by a State Certified Mechanical Or AC Contractor. These systems are much more expensive than typical mechanical ventilation systems.

# 7: Active Dehumidification systems with fresh air intake option. This is the best choice but also the most expensive and not applicable in most condominiums due to installation limitations. The only way to truly dehumidify air is with an evaporator coil and condensing unit. There is no MAGICAL DEHUMIDIFICATION PROCESS AVAILABLE other than this. Any systems that claim they do not increase humidity and that do not use an active dehumidifier simply use a reverse humidistat to shut the radon system off if humidity reaches a set desired level. This is a great idea but usually results in a radon system that does not operate very often and usually does not reduce the radon levels.

# 8: THE STATE OF FLORIDA LAW REQUIRES THE FOLLOWING: Any radon mitigation contractor installing mechanical ventilation systems of any kind must be or partner with a State Certified Mechanical or Air Conditioning Contractor. Proof of meeting this requirement should be provided to the customer. This proof can be a diagram and system specification listing the Mechanical or AC Contractors name and state license number. Any company installing these systems who cannot provide proof of meeting this requirement should be reported to the State Of FL. ( 800 ) - 543-8279. REF: F.S. 471.003. Failure to meet this requirement is a direct violation of the radon certification requirement and should be reported to the State. BEWARE of radon mitigation system that involved altering the homes HVAC system by modifying motor speed and or run time of the blower unless the work is performed by a State Certified Mechanical or AC contractor as per the manufacturer recommendations. Failure to insure this type work is performed by qualified persons may result is AC system failure and shorten the life of the HVAC systems.

# 9: BEWARE of any contractor knocking the competition; this is a distraction tactic to avoid thoroughly explaining their own expertise and system proposed. BEWARE of radon mitigation contractors that call themselves building experts without a degree or certification to back up the claim of being a building scientist or expert.

# 10: Use good judgment, there are no magical solutions to radon problems in condos and homes in SW Florida. Typical sub slab depressurization systems are usually not effective because of either construction features or the source of the radon. Not all indoor radon problems are caused from the soil below the home. In most cases in SW FL the radon is a result of radium emanation from building materials ( Concrete Floors and Ceilings ) in conjunction with tight building practices. We often mitigate high-rise condominiums on the 20th floor. We always recommend getting at least three quotes, compare the contractors qualifications and recommendations, obtain an independent opinion from a Mechanical Engineer or AC Contractor. If a radon mitigation contractor is not willing to provide a detailed scope of work for independent review question why. CITY OF NAPLES: Remember any radon mitigation work performed in the City Of Naples must be permitted through the City Of Naples Building Department.

IMPORTANT LINKS                 

State Of Florida Department Of Health - Indoor Air And Radon Office

State Of Florida reminder to realtors, property buyers, sellers and renters

State Of Florid Certified Radon Mitigation Companies

Renewaire, LLC - Manufacturers of Energy Recovery Ventilators

Therma-Stor, LLC - Manufacturers of Dehumidifiers

Honeywell - Manufacturers of Tru Dry Dehumidifiers

How Dehumidifiers Work

If you have any questions regarding radon or radon mitigation please feel free to e-mail Gene Yacobacci at

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