A new law is on the books starting in July of 2009

All new houses in Minnesota are required to have radon removal system installed into each housing unit. Various designs are allowed by the state some with collection tanks (sump baskets) and some with out. The state haves mandated the following items that must be done.
Install a perpetrated drain pipe around the interior foundation wall with a minimum 4 inches of course fill not sand allowing water and radon gas to migrate to the collection center.
Install a continuous 6-mill poly vapor barrier under the entire concrete floor
Seal all penetrations coming through the concrete floor pipes block wall to floor edges etc…
Seal the collection tank only leaving 2 sealed pipes coming out 1 for removal of underground water; the 2nd is for the removal of radon gas.
Install a 3” vent pipe vertically from the collection area passing through the house and venting above the roofline.

State's layout

Let’s look at the actual working of installation of said law, install a 6-mill poly on the dirt before you lay out rebar or wire mess. The steel being inserted onto the concrete keeps 1 the concrete floor from cracking, separating, shifting, or shrinking 2. It reinforces the floor incase the dirt under the floor settles. Rebar comes 1/2” x 20 feet long and is heave and flops around like a fish out of water. You will have a number of holes in the poly liner before the rebar is laid out and tied together.  If you use wire mesh this comes in rolls of 5 foot wide x 20 inches diameter about 100 foot per roll, when you unroll this little monster it acts like a slinky wanting to recoil the only way to straighten it out is to flip it over and re-bending it by hand. Resolutes at each end of 1 row you have just punchered the poly membrane 10-12 time.
The code says you must take a new piece of poly and over lap the hole by 1’ on all sides no a basement of 22 x 38 (24’ x 40’ House) a minimum of 120 holes. Now its time to pour the concrete (concrete is a mix of sand small rock, portland and water) you can install it 2 ways; wheel barrow it to the location and dump it, or you can pump it in with a large pump truck add $800.00 to the bill. Did you fix all the holes the wheelbarrow made and the guys pouring the floor, well that’s a radon leak.
After the floor has harden up you walk around the floor sealing all joints between the floor and wall and floor and any protrusions through the floor. About 1 –2 years after the house is done because you chose not to install reinforcing in the floor your floor have at least 3 and up to 10 large cracks big enough to put a tooth pick in it. Oh that’s right you laid carpet on the floor you’ll never see the cracks where the radon is getting in the living space and where Johnny and Amber likes to play and sleep on the floor.

Let’s look at the collection and exhaust system. Remember in this collection area there is standing water as well as an electric pump to pump out the ground water. Facts undisputed radon gas is heavier than air. So radon gas builds up in the collection tank it never leaves the tank and the vent pipe because it’s to heavy now the ground water comes into the collection tank what happens to the radon gas it rises and falls according to water level in the collection tank.  In fact the radon gas in the tank will increase in the parts per million making it more toxic I feel bad for the plumber that must change out the sump pump, he has to get down in there to fix the problem.  Note when the radon gas moves up into the exhaust vent, it’s now looking for an easier way out, that crack in the floor has a lot less pressure and a bigger area to expand into.   Solve the problem (the states view point) Just add a fan and blow the radon gas out of the house. The problem is it does matter how small or big the fan is if there is no air coming in to the drainage system you will never blow any air up the pipe, let alone radon gas which is heavier than air. The state say’s all you need is a small fan, may be rounding about 10 minutes per hour. 1st the state don’t have a clue how much air in cubic feet of air per minute or per hour is going to ventilate the radon gas from below the floor to solve the problem.

Let’s say it’s possible to vent this gas out of the house, well you don’t want to see the pipe from the front side of the house, let’s vent it on the back side of the roof, great or is it. On the backside of the house are the following screened, porch, deck, sand box, swing set, and other toys to play with. Radon gas is heavier than air it’s pumped on to your roof and taken away with prevailing winds and if there is no wind it rolls of the roof and into your backyard.  Looking down at your house from the sky we see the following a pipe sticking out of the roof with no cover over it and you can not cover it by law, that means when it rains water goes down the pipe so what it goes into a sump tank if water can go down so can cold air in the winter time, when this happens it will freeze the surface water in the sump tank or the ground in the collection area and if there fan is installed water will be dripping and getting the fan soaking wet. Well we no longer can use a cheap fan we must put in a stainless steel fan with a concealed shaft with a water bypass system in it. ”$” Now to make this system work we must bring in air into the drainage system. We cannot take inside air just for the fact if the power went out the radon gas has an easy way back into the house. We can us outside air it 20 below or greater in the wintertime freezing the sub soil under your floor and leaving the opportunity to heave your footing.
The only air available to you is in the new law that no one has thought about, you must have an exhaust fan run 15-20 minutes per hour. Blow this air under you floor and the radon fan pumps the radon gas filled air out of your house.  Now you are running 2 electric fans and praying the power never goes out.

Radon Shield

Or Just excavate and other 24” lower and install an angled concrete slab 4” with rebar cover with epoxy paint than build on top of it for your house the radon gas will come in contact with the lower slab and slide upward to the surface level on what ever side you choose to bring it to the surface

General Information

1. Does the contractor have liability insurance? If something goes wrong who will cover your loss. I heard of a roofing problem in the summer of 08 they tore off the roof and installed a new roofing system. It looked good it didn’t leak, but when the roofers were tearing off the old roof they inadvertently unlocked the furnace flue pipe 8’ below the roofline. When the flue pipe was re-shingled into place the pipe was 1/2 on and 1/2 off the lower pipe venting carbon monoxide into chimney chase and ultimately into the house attic. They didn’t find the problem for 5 months, thank God no one died. When Natural gas or LP gas is burned it gives off carbon monoxide and a lot of water. The water leaves the furnace at about 350 degrees; at this temperature it’s steam being forced into a cold attic with a lot of cold surfaces. When the steam touches a cold surface it changes to water or ice. In this case about 2 inches of ice crystals on under side of the roof decking, on the trusses and on the surface of the attic insulation.  A quick calculation looks like about 200 gallons of water frozen in the attic. Looking at this job after the facts all the insulation in the attic has to be removed the roof sheathing has to be checked for soundness and may have to be replaced as well as the sheetrock ceiling. You might need new flooring also if the ice melted before you removed it, because it will follow the wall stud cavities to the main floor and under your carpets, or cupping you hardwood flooring.
This is only 1 thing that can go wrong; there are many other situation I have heard about.
2. Does the contractor have worker compensation insurance?
If person falls or get hurt in any way while on your property (grass, sidewalk, inside your house, etc.) you’re at fault, unless the contractor has workers compensation insurance.

Rules for hiring a contractor:

General Information
1. Does the contractor have a state license to do the type of work needing to be done?
2. Does the contractor have liability insurance? If something goes wrong who will cover your loss.
3.  Does the contractor have worker compensation insurance?
If a person falls or get hurt in any way while on your property (grass, sidewalk, inside your house, etc.) you’re at fault. Unless the contractor has workers comp. insurance.

4. Make Sure All Subcontractors and/or Any Person Coming Onto Your Property Has Legal Workers Compensation and Liability Insurance.
5. Does this person have the brains to pull off this type of job?  Watch out there a lot of cons out there calling them contractors only wanting to separate you from your money.
6. Can he/she prove what is being said in writing; a contract that protects you the Homeowner?
7. A lot of people have go good intentions but no knowledge or life experience to draw from.
8. There are 3 classifications of quality of work
A.  Poor and well below sub standard workmanship
B.  Just Average on workmanship
C.   Excellent work- any worker just above average ends up excelling to excellent static because of the person himself, I’ve seen this time and time again.

9. 2nd Classifications of motives.
A. Money is a good motivator
B. The lack of money is a poor motivation
C. Lack of time for said job or out of on contracts personal bills
D. The only job available this one, actually scores just above average
E. Actually caring for his work and the client.

Now is the contractor your hiring going to hire subcontractor with substandard work or money problems? Remember this your project is to be a work of art not a novel of science fiction.

Kitchen Windows

When designing a kitchen what should you be looking for when choosing a new window(s) in the kitchen?
There are 6 different types of windows available but only 5 can open. The picture window is just that a cased opening with a secured thermo pane glass installed in the opening.

Awning; With this type of window the operating devices are located at the bottom of the window that makes it easy to operate. These windows are hinged at the top and swing outward. The problem is that the kitchen countertop is 36” tall than the window is about 24-36” tall. IE the top of the window is between 5’to 6’ off the floor so when you are looking out the window at the sink all your eyes are looking at the top of the window jamb, you must duck to look out the window.

Glider; With this type of window the operating devices are located half way up the window that makes this window hard to operate when you lean over the sink and faucet.

Casement; This is a great type of window the operating devices are located at the bottom of the window that makes it easy to operate, also if the wind is coming from the left and you want to bring the air in open the right window and it will hook the wind and bring it into the kitchen.

Double Hung; This is a good looking window but it has a draw back you must on unlock the window, the lock is half way up the center of the window opening it from the bottom is adequate again the sink and faucet is the way.

Hopper; A hopper window is a cool design of a window but it swings and tilts into the room in the swing mode the window can not open the faucet is in the way.

Transom; Having a transom window over the regular kitchen window is great unless you have a ceiling under 9’ again the bottom of the transom and the top of the regular is in your line of sight.

Plumbing prices too high?

Touch on picture to enlarge.

Looking for alternative ways to keep plumbing prices down. One way is to install Wirsbo water supply line instead of copper.

Yes copper is great easy to repair, add on to, or even change the design of plumbing as it is being installed. But the price, its great if you are Bill Gates, or a basketball player in the NBA. But for the rest of us there are alternative types of plumbing supply lines.

The Wirsbo system in some ways better than copper.

When water freezes to ice water expands 10% than when it is a liquid form. When water freezes in a cooper pipe it will split the length pipe to relieve the excess pressure. While on the other hand Wirsbo piping is designed to expand 200% larger than the water volume at 100 PSI meaning that it Wirsbo pipe will not fail.

The two draw backs of using Wirsbo piping new tools and instructions for installation you must learn. 2. Wirsbo unlike copper or Iron pipe doesn’t conduct electricity through it, you will need to run a ground wire back to the electrical panel and find a 2nd grounding location–like one of the following a cast iron well pipe, a 5/8″ or larger rebar which is barried in the concrete foundation of your house.

What is nice about Wirsbo there is less hot or cold transference throw the piping intern bring hotter water to the sinks and showers faster than with metal pipes.

Water leaks cause by circulating pumps

  • You can minimize hot water circulation leaks by installing a pump timer and water flow gauge / regulator. What is happening inside the hot water circulation pipes is that rushing water is eroding the copper pipes. Copper has a natural ability to create a protective skin that will minimize this erosion. This protective skin is naturally created when the water is not rushing over the surface of the pipe and is created in 5 to 10 minutes. This protective skin will last up to an hour before it has to be regenerated again. By installing a timer that runs 50 minutes and turns off for 10 minutes and then back on each hour, you will help the hot water circulation system extend it’s life.
  • The other major factor of hot water circulation leaks is that most pumps are installed over sized moving way too much water.

    The best way to solve this problem is by installing a water flow gauge that will tell the plumber what the water flow rate is through this hot water circulation line and then adjusting flow to meet the minimum flow requirement and there by minimizing the erosion factor.

  • Note:
    If you have additional pumps on the circulating hot water line, get an electrician to have these circulation pumps wired together and install an electric timer that can shut these pumps off for a period of 10 minutes out of each hour at the same time.

    If you have a single pump, which is often the case, the electrician can tie in a programmable timer for this single pump.

    Future Benefit:
    A water flow gauge gives the plumber servicing an immediate tool in determining if the circulating pump is working properly thus saving trouble shutting time.

    There is no accurate way to tell if a circulating pump is moving enough or too much water short of a water flow indicator.

    A secondary benefit that results, if you have a thermostatic mixing valve, you can now determine if that thermostatic mixing is working properly.

    Final note:
    These preventive maintenance steps will not eliminate hot water circulation line leak(s), however these timers will greatly reduce the erosion effect that is occurring in the copper pipes and thereby minimize the number of service calls required to fix these leaks.

    Plumbing problems

    Q. Why is it every time someone is the shower some other family member uses water and the one in the shower takes a steam bath?
    A. Your hot & cold water lines are too small. You should have 3/4″ supply lines to all bathrooms, this will solve the problem.

    Q. Why is there water leaking out of the lawn faucet, but looks like another devise on the end of the lawn faucet? Continue reading