• Wally Dorsey Jr
    I would suggest, that if folks have a problem with decisions, made by the committee members who donate time out of their life for the betterment of the radon community as well as safeguarding public health, get involved in the process.

    It's easy to be an armchair quarterback and complain about government or committee involvement in our avocation, which, ironically arose from government involvement to begin with, yet not be willing to spend the time to sit in one of these committees to be a part of the process.

    Just like the election process. If you're not willing to participate in the process, don't complain about the out come. It's easy enough to get involved. Touch base with Dallas or many others that are involved to find out how to become involved, your inputs and help will be welcomed.
  • Tony McDonald

    This thread is a good time, I think, to call attention to the fact that the process by which ANSI-AARST standards are developedKevin M Stewart

    "As usual, @Kevin M Stewart is correct."
  • Tony McDonald

    Well said Rich!Andrew Costigan


    Not so fast Andrew. I am not sure we have arrived at the celebratory part yet. I have read this entire thread several times and one conclusion is undeniable:
    Alarms are doing exactly what the committee intended them to do. They are alerting the homeowner when the system is not operating as intended which is confirmed by the call to the installation company for service.

    It does not seem like everyone is making the case that the alarms are defective. It seems like more of the dissent is centered around exposing a known problem by the people designing and installing these systems: the systems are ineffective year-round due to the typically expected exterior temperature during the winter. I have not read that these systems freeze over once a decade. The wording of some of these comments make it seem like it happens multiple times a winter for days at a time.
    If this is a normal occurrence, do your installation proposals include language that the system is not guaranteed to work when it is cold outside? This seems like something the potential customer should be made aware of.

    I have also read many people suggest that using a consumer grade CRM would be a better alternative. This alternative approach has not been discussed by the committee to my knowledge, but I don’t see it getting very far without some further discussion regarding this question: What are the chances that the radon levels are going to rise in the home to the point where the CRM is going to start beeping in a home with a known radon problem and a non-functioning mitigation system during a time period when the stack effect is the greatest? A system alarm would allow the homeowner (and mitigator) to act before the radon levels become elevated. If you wait until the CRM goes off, the radon levels are already elevated, and you are past the point where action should be taken.

    What am I missing? It seems like some of you are against alarms because you do not want to admit the system you installed is not protective all the time and you do not want to address or change it. The comments I read seem to be centered around minimizing calls from past clients, not maximizing radon reduction. If this is not the case, you should not be fighting against alarms, you should be advocating for better system design and installation requirements.
  • Tony McDonald
    Radon fan manufacturers warranty - 5 years

    Active notification device /
    System alarm manufacturers warranty - 1 year

    What am I missing here?
    Andrew Costigan

    You are absolutely correct Andrew. I agree radon fan warranties are too long!
  • Tony McDonald

    Question: Has anyone had experience with homeowner crms drifting higher or lower over the years. I would assume the radon levels are low enough that their background counts don't grow significantly but I dont know that.Bill Brodhead

    I have experienced ones that have drifted high over the years. It is tough to tell why, but I doubt it was background accumulation. I always attributed it to the low price point of the machine. @John Mallon also has a couple of good pictures with these homeowner devices with radically different measurements on the display in the same picture. Maybe he can dig them up for everyone. I have also noticed that people tend to take their personal CRM with them when they move.
  • Tony McDonald

    find out how to become involved, your inputs and help will be welcomed.Wally Dorsey Jr

    Nicely Said Wally. I would add that when you volunteer, you get the opportunity to be both involved in the process and an armchair quarterback as I have done all over this thread.
  • Tony McDonald

    There is no need for alarm or this discussion. Radon mitigators and the real world are not represented here. People are not working due to government stupidity and greed. Do not buy them!Adam Michels


    Hello Adam -
    Not sure why you would take the time to write there is no need for discussion on a list serve where the entire purpose is discussion, but I will let that part fly right by. I would, however, ask who is being represented here if not real-world radon professionals? I certainly believe @Kevin M Stewart, @Randy Weestrand, @Chad Robinson, @Marcel Brascoupe, @Bill Brodhead, @Robert Mahoney, @Rich Whisler, @Carolyn Koke, @Wally Dorsey Jr, @Doug Kladder, @Bob Wood and @admin are firmly in the category of radon professionals and they are real as far as I can tell without getting into an existential discussion.
    I am unsure what you mean when you assert "people are not working due to government stupidity and greed". My company is currently hiring 3 installation techs, 1 site manager and 1 project coordinator. These are not temporary jobs. They are careers with high pay and benefits. We have more work than we can handle. Most, if not all, of the radon companies I know of are hiring in a similar manner. If your company is struggling, I suggest you reexamine your sales and marketing personnel.
  • Tony McDonald

    Remember that any clear or white tubing will degrade in sunlight. You need to use black tubing outdoors. The mini-helic includes black tubing with the package.Bill Brodhead

    Good Tip Bill! Couple more points of good practice:
    • Connect the gauge tubing to the piping below the fan. I have seen people connect to the exhaust pipe. This is a bad idea as it will encourage moisture to get in the gauge.
    • Always install the gauge above the hole in the pipe so any moisture in the tube can drain back into the system.
    • Don't create a trap in the tubing. It will collect water.
    • Locate the gauge as close to the pipe as possible so it can adsorb any heat radiating from the system.
  • Tony McDonald
    Here is a great exampleAndrew Costigan

    Andrew, Do you have a picture of this installation from further back? I am confused about what is going on without seeing more of the inlet piping.
  • Tony McDonald

    If the auto industry had oil gauges instead of low oil warning lights there would be a lot of cars with blown engines.Bill Brodhead

    Great analogy Bill!
  • Robert Mahoney
    As a Carst founding father, trained by Arthur Scott, Jack Bartholowmew and over 30 years in the commercial HVAC industry, my dedication to creating a bullet proof industry standard, has taken up 25% of my time, serving my customers is the balance of my time.
    We definitely have doubled our business, during Covid times, but by taking a few minutes on the phone, to each customer, telling them, we will see you in a month, they get it!
  • Tony McDonald

    I've found the best information often comes from other professionals and not the CE courses.Robert Burns

    (This comment is directed more at the group than Robert specifically as I do not know him and am unfamiliar with his level of engagement of AARST at either the local or national level.)

    I have heard this sentiment expressed many times over the years. On one hand, I agree that case studies, expert panels and problem-solving demonstrations are typically move valuable than reviewing the installation standards for 8 hours straight. The group also benefits more from the open discourse. On the other hand, I always try to ask, "what CE classes are you going to that are not taught by professionals?" Their answer is typically that professionals teach the class, but the topics are not relevant or interesting. If you feel this way, you should open a dialogue about what you want to see in a CE course with wherever you are receiving your CE. Or, better yet, volunteer to speak at the next CE event about a topic for which you believe you are an expert. I imagine you have amassed enough wisdom over your 31-year career in radon to speak authoritatively on a wide range of topics.
    Most people gain a new insight on what it takes to produce a high-quality CE class when they are standing in front of the group and not in the audience. I was really nervous the first time I had to stand in front of my peers and lead a class. My slides, my outline, pictures of my work. All kinds of crazy thoughts went through my head: Do my pictures show quality work…Did I install the system correctly…Am I really an expert in this…will I get laughed at if it turns out I made a mistake…Have I been doing this wrong all this time? I was worried about all that for about a minute.
    I will warn you though. You may really enjoy it.
  • Tony McDonald

    Audible alarms were popular in 1989Robert Burns

    So audible alarms are not new like some people in this thread assert. I remember installing one on my first installation in 1992. They have changed quite a bit since then. The newest generation is vastly superior to the initial designs.
  • Tony McDonald

    Maybe there’s some confusion on my part.Randy Weestrand

    Randy, I was genuinely impressed to read your response to @Admin comment. Your public acknowledgment that you may have been mistake is something that has been missing in public discourse over the last 5 years or so. I have to admit, I am not always as gracious when facing a similar situation.
  • Wally Dorsey Jr
    We're looking for more folks too Tony. A field tech, an office manager and an assistant for them + a reasonably priced software developer. Last year was our busiest year in 35 years of being in the radon field. I feel a little guilty as I've certainly been behind the 8 ball as a builder in recessions gone by.
    It sounds like there will be options to just an audible alarm so that the client has a say in the matter. That may provide them with enough ownership in the process that they are more aware of the system....... maybe?
  • Andrew Costigan
    Tony - I really don’t even know where to start in a response without it being long winded.

    But - can you please share with us on here your experiences with systems alarms and what good or bad experiences you have had with them. Or maybe they are all good. The positive way you talk about them I am guessing you have been using them for a few years.

    And Wally - I have applied to be on the committee.
    There is nothing wrong with voicing concern over a standard you don’t agree with. It doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate the time the committee members volunteer. In fact this is my first time ever on the listserv - commenting on this very controversial standard.
  • Tony McDonald

    The use of audible alarms on radon mitigation systems is inappropriate and will decrease the safety of the homeowners and add liability to our profession by encouraging homeowners to ignore their systems (unless there is an alarm going off) and will diminish the number of homeowners that actually listen to our industry when we say
    “The EPA Recommends that every home is retested every 2 years”
    I believe there is increased legal liability for the mitigator or standards organization if we tell people they are protected from system failure with an audible alarm, and then system performance is compromised by a failed alarm or some other unforeseen circumstances.
    I don’t know how we would handle the volume of calls we would if there were audible alarms going off in hundreds (thousands) of homes. I also expect that convincing people it is ok to stay in their homes while an alarm is going off is going to be much tougher than we experience with our clients today.
    I would probably not be able to do anything else but take these calls and this would severely negatively impact my ability to remain in business.
    Rich Whisler

    I need to preface this comment with a reminder that my opinions on the list serve are mine alone. I am not claiming to represent AARST or the MIT committee.
    I applaud your effort to make your voice heard and would like to offer some potentially helpful feedback. I have been involved in the MIT committee's review of public comments for several years now, so I understand how to make a persuasive argument to the committee. Below are some simple rules to follow:

    Do NOT:
    1. Make outrageous claims without evidence, especially in the first sentence. I can see the committee trying to understand a scenario in which the addition of an alarm to an otherwise properly installed system will decrease the safety of the homeowner or how it would encourage the homeowner to ignore the system. If they cannot find rapid and near unanimous agreement in your preamble, they will not advocate serious consideration for the rest of your comment.
    2. Avoid hyperbole. Neither the world is going to end, nor the industry is going to collapse if your intentions are not made reality.
    3. Send in a form letter with generic language. The committee reviews all comments with the same procedure whether they are from a single person or an entire group. Inundating the standard committee staff with dozens of copies of the same comment does not add any actual weight to your comment.
    4. Assert or imply anything regarding ANSI/AARST’s legal liability. No matter how well intended; this
    always comes off as a veiled threat and your entire comment is construed as counterproductive.

    1. Be respectful. Not sure why I have to mention this, but I do because of previous comments.
    2. Stick to your field of expertise: I would avoid commenting on legal liability or any other professional field unless you have some type of relevant expertise.
    3. Offer an alternative approach to the issue: Most comments that are submitted have already been discussed by the committee. The chances of the committee removing an entire section is minimal. Finding common ground with the committee by offering a different approach or adjusted language is far more achievable.
    4. Address 1 issue per comment. We have been discouraged in the past by comments that try to address many issues in a single comment which led to a significant amount of extra work for both the committee and the commenter when the intent of the commenter was misunderstood by the committee.
    5. Be concise. Try to describe your issue in as few sentences as possible. It is already a lengthy process to discuss each comment. Responding to the comments for the 2018 version of SGM-MF took several 2- hour meetings. Adding unnecessary background and anecdotes to your comment drags the process out.
    If you would like to discuss how to revise your specific comment to potentially make it more persuasive, send me an email.
  • Tony McDonald

    As a longtime member of the Mitigation Standards Committee, I hope to provide some insight.
    Before I begin, I want to remind everyone that these comments are mine alone. I am not speaking on behalf of the MSC or AARST. I think @admin (Dallas Jones) did an admirable job of responding for the organization.

    The following email was sent to all 120 Minnesota mitigation licensees with a publicly available email address.Randy Weestrand

    But an alarm, whether smoke, CO, burglar, seat belt etc. implies an immediate risk. A fan failure or freeze up is not an immediate risk and should not be announced with an alarm.Randy Weestrand

    I would argue this is close but not completely correct. Alarms are not used to imply an immediate risk. That is what warning labels are for. Alarms are intended to provoke immediate action. When the smoke alarm goes off, the intention is not for you to think about the number of people who die in house fire every year (4,000), it is to make you get up and get out of the house. The homeowner should take immediate action when the mitigation system is not operating properly.

    MDH is enforcing the ANSI / AARST rule that all systems have an alarmRandy Weestrand

    I think it would be appropriate to clean this up to say MDH is enforcing ALL the rules in the ANSI/AARST standards. This includes all the ones with which you agree and disagree. I imagine there is another email in which you congratulate MDH for enforcing the policies you agree with.

    1. Which most closely matches your opinion?

    40 ....61% ...Alarms imply imminent danger, and are not appropriate in any climate
    13 ....20% ...Alarms are good, but not in Minnesota’s climate
    7 ......10% ...Require alarms, but only when there is one with just a light and no audible alarm
    6 ........9% ...Require alarms now, the available alarms are fine
    66 . 100% ...Total responses
    Randy Weestrand

    It is significantly more difficult to compose a fair and accurate survey question that one would think. Like mitigation diagnostics, polling is the real-world application of scientific theories. One rarely gets it correct with no experience. Even with the best of intentions, many questions end up with an unintentional bias. Dishonest polling is referred to as Push Polling where the poll uses loaded questions to sway the results toward a particular goal. This article gives a quick overview of polling bias.

    The question above is an example of what the article would call a double-barreled question which means the question or response contains 2 or more concepts that are not necessarily connected. One's stance on alarm's is not necessarily connected to the climate. When analyzing this data, one has to guess which of the concepts was more influential to the respondent. The problem is the motivational factor will differ by respondent which leads to junk data.

    One could use this dataset to assert 100% of respondents believe we should require alarms at some point because they are good, and they imply imminent danger though this assertion would be easily debunked if you study the questions and the answers. If you think that is dishonest, I will point you to the primary source for this entire thread: AARST/ANSI SGM-SF 2017. On the first page of the standard, in the introduction, there is a paragraph with the headingContinuous Maintenance of This Standard. It informs the reader that they can request a change of the standard at any time and provides general instructions for starting the process. This makes me wonder if anyone of one the aggrieved party actually took the time to read the entire standard or if they found out about this change 3 years later because of an informational bulletin from a regulatory agency. Quite honestly, their concern about this issue would have held more weight in my mind if they had voiced their discontent when the standard was published in 2017. Below is a screenshot from page i of the SGM-SF 2017.


    The best way to remove the ambiguity in this question is to separate it into the component parts.
    One question each regarding:

    • What alarms imply to you.
    • What, if any, climate are they appropriate for?
    • Should we require alarms?
    • If so, when should we require them?
    • Should an alarm have a light, a noise or both?
    • Do you like the alarms that are currently on the market?

    Once we see the question broken out into the core concepts, it is easier to see how the data may not be useful.
    Lastly, while I believe your data to be representative of the people who responded to your survey, I do not believe it is representative of the industry.
    I have heard someone from Ohio tell me alarms are great, but only in Florida. If you think this reply does not fit your survey because the person is from Ohio, you can see why I contend this poll is not necessarily representative of the industry.
  • Tony McDonald

    I am not sure what you mean Andy. I posted about 10 comments over the last couple of hours and I cannot tell which one you are replying to. I am happy to elaborate. And yes, I have bench tested many of the new products on the market now and some that are still in the works. Unfortunately, I cannot disclose which ones I have evaluated, nor will I recommend any specific product. We have hundreds of them in the field with no significant issues.
  • Tony McDonald
    I and most mitigators in MN (see Randy’s original post) do not agree with setting off an alarm at 3:00am and waking up a homeowner because their system froze. A terrible idea to say the least and crippling to our businesses when the next day we will get run over by phone calls.Andrew Costigan

    I do not understand this. Are you asserting that your systems should only work under certain weather conditions? If so, what are those conditions?
  • Tony McDonald
    And what about normal fan failures.Randy Weestrand

    How do you tell the difference between a fan failure and system freeze up? Do you just assume it is a freeze up because it is cold outside?
  • Andrew Costigan
    Tony - what I am getting at is this.

    In MN we are required to install these alarms on every system we install or face potential fines. We technically do not have the option to simply not use them. We are forced to.

    In Ohio I don’t believe it is required - but I would hope because of how much you advocate for them about how great they are that you would be installing them on every one of your systems. That’s why I ask how they have been working for you since January of 2019. I would hope that any mitigator that is on the standards committee that voted to have these alarms required are actively following what they have required the entire mitigation community to follow.

    When it gets 20 below zero like it can in MN - it doesn’t matter how the system is installed. When the 50 degree discharging air hits the below zero degree outside air ice forms on the exhaust end.
    This is what we refer to as an extreme weather condition where the system could potentially not work. The same is true on plumbing stacks here that vent to a septic system. They freeze solid.
  • Tony McDonald
    There are many low cost crm monitors available today that would be a great alternative to a blaring alarm. And I think most homeowners would agree.Andrew Costigan

    Most consumer CRMs have an alarm built in. Some will even text your phone. If you have a CRM in the house and the system freezes over for several days like you said in another post, the radon levels will rise and you will be flooded with phone calls about high radon levels and a non-functioning system. The CRM is the same as the alarm, it just waits a day or so until the conditions are worse until it informs the client.
  • Tony McDonald
    A failed radon fan event does not need a blaring alarm event that instant.Andrew Costigan

    There is a mountain of dead fans out there that have not been replaced that would beg to differ.
  • Tony McDonald
    This individual standard needs more time to be thought through and more input from the ones being forced to install them.Andrew Costigan

    This has been in the standard since the 2017 edition. How much more time do you need?
  • Tony McDonald
    After looking at the list of names that contributed to the ANSI/AARST SGM 2017 standard I find it troubling that the amount of mitigators on their are of a small percentage.Andrew Costigan

    I think this comment is due to ignorance in how the standard promulgation process works. ANSI mandates all stakeholders have representation on the committee. This means more than mitigators are required. The committee also needs representation from local government, state government, NGOs, manufacturers, consumer advocates and building scientists. Not all of these groups are mitigators, nor should they be. I can assure you the ESC did an admirable job identifying and seating individuals with relevant experience. Mitigation professionals are well represented on the committee in terms of experience, viewpoint and geographic location. If memory serves me correctly, about a dozen members on the SGM-SF committee had significant mitigation experience which is more than any other stakeholder group. If the standards were written exclusively by mitigation professionals, they would not be accredited by ANSI nor recognized by the regulatory agencies. The committee roster from SGM-SF 2017 is attached to this reply for reference,.

    And of the ones on the list - I would like to know how many actively install systems in a climate like ours.Andrew Costigan

    There were several people on the committee from your state and more from places with a similar climate.

    I personally would also like to see a new method for including mitigators in on decisions that effect our business’s like a system alarm.Andrew Costigan

    There is already a method for including industry in the decision making process. It is the commenting process that Dallas outlined in his initial reply. You can access it here. I encourage you to use it. You can also volunteer to work on a committee here. the ESC is always looking for qualified people to help when a committee seat becomes available.

    We are the back bone of the industry and I fell like we are getting pushed to the side while a small majority tries to insert themselves into what we built.Andrew Costigan

    Please clarify this assertion. I do not want to misinterpret you, but this reads like there is some knid of conspiracy going on. Who are:

    • the backbone of the industry?
    • The small majority?
    • The "we" in "what we built"?

    and what are they trying to insert themselves into?
    SGM-SF 2017 Committee Roster (599K)
  • Tony McDonald
    In MN we are required to install these alarms on every system we install or face potential fines. We technically do not have the option to simply not use them. We are forced to.Andrew Costigan

    This hyperbole doesn't help your case. You are required to follow all the rules. You don't have the option to simply not follow any of the requirements. That is why they are called requirements, not suggestions. This rule is not more draconian than the rest of the standard because you disagree with it.
  • Andrew Costigan
    Tony - you never did answer my question.

    But I think it is safe to say you definitely agree with the active notification device!

    I am quite aware we are required to follow all the rules - and you seem to definitely have all the answers. Being condescending on here I think is very inappropriate. This will be my last post on here. I wish you the best.

  • Tony McDonald
    In Ohio I don’t believe it is required - but I would hope because of how much you advocate for them about how great they are that you would be installing them on every one of your systems. That’s why I ask how they have been working for you since January of 2019. I would hope that any mitigator that is on the standards committee that voted to have these alarms required are actively following what they have required the entire mitigation community to follow.Andrew Costigan

    Yes, All of our installations meet or exceed all the relevant requirements of the jurisdiction where the installation was located. We have actually been installing alarms on every commercial system since before 2015 so this change in the rule did not effect me. We have installed alarms on all our residential systems since before the mandate as well.

    This may come as a surprise but being a member of the committee does not earn me a free pass to do whatever I want. That's not how this works. I don't agree with everything in the current standards, but I follow them because those are the rules. I do, however, make my personal opinions known on items I disagree with via the same comment system available to any stakeholder. ANSI/AARST expects this attitude from me and every other committee member.
  • Bob Wood
    Andrew I as a mitigator disagree with your statement as someone that has sat on 2 working groups to get a standard developed for radon mitigation here in Canada. it becomes a delicate balance of what you want Vs what hill you are willing to die on. Sometimes things are traded at the table to get consensus. I do not know but does the standard include insulation of piping when exposed to freezing?

    What good is the system you installed last summer and tested low ie 2.5 pCi on a summer time short term test. You now have a client that believes in you recommends you to friends and family. Standards are written to protect the public not to protect contractors from client phone calls when systems fail that they paid good money for. if during winter months, the that same house is it is now getting up to 6.7 because the fan was not properly sized for winter stack effect, yes it is better than the 20 pCi that they had before. You now have a client that loses belief in you and will tell everyone they meet that you are not their radon mitigator of choice. Standards are written to protect the public not to protect contractors from phone calls when systems fail, that the clients paid good money for.

    I think your old astm code required insulation where piping is exposed to freezing and i would be very surprised if this is not in current document. If it is not maybe alarms were traded off in the committee for the removal of insulating piping when exposed to freezing.

    ...........Yes inside systems take more time and cost more and should be insulated in attic space ......... garage systems should be insulated and heat traced in cold areas........ and i believe outside systems should not be installed where winter temperatures can go below -20 for significant periods of time unless they are heat traced and insulated. All of these are upsells in my market and I clearly state that these outside systems are subject to freezing and void warranty on fan and that the SSD system could be down a significant amount of time during winter months. i very seldom end up installing a exterior system.

    We cannot get two a day when doing garage routed systems but get to charge significantly more.

    We still install fans for VOC systems on the exterior of buildings but take the appropriate precautions to prevent freezing.
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