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

Siding-Houses

We think we love them, they have been a part of the American dream since the days of the pilgrims. The lingering quest in homeownership how do we protect them from the elements, after that how to make them warmer years after they have been built.
In the old days the log houses used the logs as insulation and a barrier from the elements, the timbers in a log house were a good insulator because no air could pass through theses timbers, just around them, as the logs dried out naturally over time they shrank leaving gaps, while the body of these timbers have released the trapped water it now traps billons of air pockets pushing up its insulating ability also over time. In the late 1800-and early1900s people were packing their balloon-framed houses with newspaper thereby creating a low R-value in the exterior wall cavities. During WW11 to save energy they required houses to be insulated the houses using insulation that was batt of fibrous material about 1 1/2” thick placed into the stud cavities.
Today we have to tighten our budget again because of the high cost of living. One place to do this is to insulate our houses from the exterior than install new siding over the insulation, but there is a catch if done wrong it will rot your walls, what would take nature 60-80 years could be done in as little as 3-8 years.  Houses built before 1950 were designed to breathe, it wasn’t until the last 10 years that we had no idea as to how much water vapor actually passed through the exterior walls of our houses. If our house has a crawl space, cement floor, basement foundation walls, that are now waterproofed on the inside (not water resistive paint) you could be absorbing anywhere from 10-150 gallons of water per 24 hour period into your homes atmosphere this water vapor wants out of your house because there is less humidity outside than there is in your home, thereby forcing its way through your exterior walls to the out side.
Now the Law states you must install a house wrap. House wraps work great in the far south, but what happens in the north is a world apart from the south. The inside temp of the house is 70° outside is 30° automatically the water vapor in the house wants out the humidity in the air outside is dryer than the air inside so it forces it’s way through the exterior walls.  If your installer installed a house wrap under your siding this is what is happening the water vapor just past through the insulating and wall sheathing, the next surface is colder so now it freezes on the back side of the house warp (you have white frost between your wall sheathing and your house wrap). When the temperature warms up the frost now turns to a liquid, with tarpaper the paper sucks up the water and spreads it to help it dry out the back side of the siding. While if you installed a name brand house wrap it now pooling up behind your siding. It a liquid not a vapor so it is not allowed to pass through, but instead it starts freezing and thawing on your wall sheathing breaking it down.

Adding more insulation on the exterior of the wall if done right will save you a boatload of money. On the exterior of a building you best results are going to be from a rigid insulation board. There are at least 2 types 1st is just an insulation board and the 2nd has aluminam foil on both sides you must choose according to the siding you want to install as to what insulation board is best. For example; horizontal cedar lap siding does not like aluminum for behind it. Before installing any type of rigid insulation on to an exterior wall surface you must make a way for the water vapor to escape to the outside air.

I recommend 1 product “mortairvent” Made by Benjamin Obdyke, it’s only 1/4” thick installed over the tarpaper, than you install you insulation board next and finally your siding. It’s made of woven plastic with enough rigidity to keep 1/4 inch air gap to allow the water vapor to escape either by going down the wall to be vented at the foundation line or vented at the soffit line of the house.

Heat ducts hard metal VS Insulated flex pipe

On hard metal pipes the air moves swiftly through the pipes with little to no hindrance the pipe walls are smooth galvanized metal with adjustable elbows as needed. The minor drawback of this type of pipe is the metal you must hot or cool the pipe first before tempering the room that it’s being sent to. The good thing about this type of ductwork it never comes apart all the joints are screwed together and all seams are now sealed so no air leakage. Finally when its time to have your duct work cleaned, they guys bring in 2 hoses a large volume vacuum hose and a large volume air compressor hose with these hooked on ether end each duct the volume of air used to clean the pipe run handles is with no problem.

Now with insulated flex pipes the air moves swiftly through the pipes with little to no hindrance the pipe walls are made of a spiraling piece of wire in beaded in the poly tubes pipe wall than covered with insulation and a 2nd poly to keep the cavity air space that the pipe is passing through. Sorry to say the inexperienced installers use this ductwork a lot and in places that it was not intended to be used. Granted this pipe is very flexible but bending the pipe in a hard 90° or even 180° and/or squeezing it down to fit a 3.5 inch space cavity. When the inside pipe measures 6” and the out side measures 8 1/2. A 6” round duct has 28.26 Cubic inch of open area when you crush it down to 3 1/2” on the exterior; the interior only has 5 cubic inches of open area. The bad thing about this ductwork is if too much air pressure and vacuum is used in the pipe run and the connections come apart and contracts to the vacuum side of the cleaning.

When you need this type of ductwork cleaned, many things can go wrong 1 the joints can come apart. The compressor hose can puncture the inner poly wall of the pipe, or if there is a restriction in the pipe and there is debris in the pipe it could clog. Remember these entire ducts are running in concealed spaces between your ceiling and 2nd floor or your basement ceiling and your main floor. If they disconnect there is no way to re attach them with out remove 1 of your finished surfaces.

Heating your Garage

It’s a great idea, heating your garage with a Reznor unit heater it shall do a lot of good things for your garage and items stored in it. By keeping the heat above 38° it will keep the garage foundation from heaving in the cold winter months. Also if the garage is attached to the house, the house benefits by heating the garage the common wall is now warm for the house interns saving you heat on said house wall.

Having it warmer also helps your vehicles start faster as well as better engine oil viscosity, because the engine block is starting warm.


Using a compact ceiling gas heater works great. We have installed several of these units. You can bolt them to the roof framing members and or floor joist system. You can mount them up tight or drop them down to a lower height if you have a 9’- 14’ high garage ceiling. By installing the unit at the back of the garage and blow air cross the garage to the far front corner this will get the greatest way to stabilize the temperature in the garage. This will also dry your car off and the floor. By keeping your garage temperature at or above 38° you should never have the garage floor flaking or popping of concrete from the winter weather.

This furnace also can be vented both out the wall and/or through the roof of the garage. Giving is a way to really maximize your opportunity for the best installation.

Boilers, Furnaces and Water heaters-2

In the first photo you see a boiler system with different types of radiant heat points, with some of the controls required to operate the systems.
Below is a furnace system showing some of the components needing to be serviced.
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heat loss calculation we can look at the different types of fuels vs. the costs of a geothermal system.
But before we can start we must enter some of the basics:
#1 the location of the house for the average winter low temperature.
#2 the location of the house for the average summer high temperature.
#3 what do you keep your thermostat at in the wintertime.
#4 what do you keep your thermostat for A.C. in the summer time.
#5 The Calculation is written for 67° ambient temperature.
#6 in your area how many heating degree-days are there in Mpls. there are 8000.0
Duluth 9818.0
#7 in your area how many Cooling degree-days are there in Mpls. there are 743.0
Duluth 180.0
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#8 what is the efficiency of your furnace
#9 what is the Seer rating of your Air Conditioner.
Now with these parameters plugged in the numbers than tell a story
picture-157.pngIn the
There are 3 heat loss charts for 1988, 1998, 2008 the first line down is the cost of the fuel the 2nd line is the if your furnace is running at 100% Eff. The 3rd row down is per year to heat the house. The 4rth row is the cost savings per month if you have Geo thermal heating installed instead of the fuel you have. But notice the 5th row down this one is important, this tell you if you are a wise steward of you money. If the pay back in years is 10 years or less you could save a lot of money. In 1988 if you had an Electric furnace and changed it in 88 by 1997 the system would have been paid off and today you would have $37,015.00 more in your pocket. This price is based on the electric price in 1988 and we all know that the price has risen for electric energy. In the 2008 Chart look at the pay back on all 4 types of fuel. The price of LP gas is 4.03 dollars per gallon now, and is going up – I heard it could reach 8.00 per gallon by spring. If it only goes up only an additional $2.00 it will cost you 1500.00 per month on a budget, can you afford it.

Old fashion heating systems leave tracks

Oil fired heating plant (furnace or boiler system) needs maintenance by a good oil burners service man. There are a lot of service men but only 1 out of 10 Service men are really any good, and of these 1/2 of theses guys are great. With a good burner system and a great service man these heating plants will run great for years. An inexperienced service man will miss the tell tail signs the heating plant needs help. The picture below could tell a heating man what is happening before he even gets to the heating plant.

The picture you are looking at is not mold but instead it’s dirt. In this photo this house has hot water heat. There is no air filtration system in this house, as small dirt particles migrate into the wall mounted radiator (baseboard heat) heats the air as it passes by but the dirt is charged with static electricity than the particles are carried up the wall with the warm air. This is where the charged particle bond cooler parts of the wall. The framing of the house keeps the sheetrock cooler directly in front of the studs in the winter and warmer in the summer. This also happens with electric baseboard heat. Using an air purifier such as a Honeywell 17000 HEPA Quietcare Air Cleaner works great removing all the particulate in the air.
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Exhaust fan problems I presume?

My heating contract was called into a house that was about 8 years old. The homeowner had a unique problem. In the master bedroom was located on the 2nd floor the toilet bowl was frozen and the bathroom temperature was 70°. The contractor though at first this was a joke. The owner insisted that he wanted the problem fixed. With a little bit of looking around the contractor saw the bath fan right above the toilet bowl. But the real problem was in the attic the exhaust vent from the exhaust fan was not insulated. With the out side temperature of –20F below. What happened the air inside the exhaust pipe being cold (and cold air is heaver than warm air) dropped from the ceiling fan and fell into the toilet because the husband left the toilet lid up the night before, Allowing the cold air to collect in the toilet bowl and actually freeze the water.

Another job site the homeowner had a new roof put on 6 months earlier and had the attic reinsulated. The first cold morning about –15 below 0 with a hot shower the ceiling fan started dripping water. So he called out the roofer to fix the problem, it was not the roofing but instead the exhaust fan piping again was not insulated. While the high humidity was being blown out and the metal piping was below 0 the humidity was condensing rapidly on the piping, then run back into the ceiling fan, through the vent louvers and end up dripping to the floor.
You have to insulate the entire exhaust vent to the exhaust point.

You need fresh air in your house.

New houses need fresh air

The answer will move to action. A person will breathe in and vent per breathe 1/2 liter in quiet breathing to 6 liters or 1.58 gallons per minute.

Each person takes between 4 and 10 million breaths per year. The max volume of air that we take in and breathe out is called vital capacity. It’s about 4800 ml or about 5,000,000 gallons of air.
Each day, a person takes between 11 thousand to 28 thousand breaths per day per person or in other words about 13,698.6 gallons.

Calculates to 1,831.23 cubic feet per person must come into the house per day.
With this understanding, by tightening up our houses we need to bring in fresh air or we are going to poison our selves with our own exhaust air (CO2).

Installing an air exchanger into a new home is not an extra item that the state is forcing on us to do, but instead it is for our protection.
Having the Air Exchanger running 1 minute per hour per person in the house plus running it to remove humidity in the bathrooms while showers or hot tubs are running help stabilize the humidity in the entire house.

Heating- Location of Equipment

The more readily accessible the equipment, the easier it is to install, maintain, and ultimately replace.
Working on equipment outside is great because you do not have to get into the home, unless you have no power or if the thermostat needs attention. More…

Putting equipment above ground level often results in wasps and fowls finding a place to make their nests.

Putting equipment on roofs becomes a pill for the maintenance person and the equipment now has an opportunity to leaking into the home.

Putting the equipment at ground level opens up the opportunity for small animals to chew the wires and make their home in it.

Installing the equipment in the home or a mechanical room keeps the wildlife out of the equipment and makes the environment safe for the technician to maintain it.

Heating- Types of Fuels

• Electricity

Electricity has been the most costly in the past 30 years, but with energy costs jump on oil it may be the way to heat and cool the home.
• Gas

Next to electricity gas would be the easiest product to maintain.
More…
Simple concepts and the largest number of contractors work with this type of equipment.
Gas has long been the leader in affordable heat.
• Oil

Oil is a good option, the concepts are simple but there are very few contractors who really understand how to fix the equipment when it needs maintenance.
• Solar

Some solar systems are very easy with little to no maintenance.
However, the investment and size of the equipment is often large for the small return of investment.
• Wood

Wood, appears to be cheep, but requires vehicles, chain saws, a huge source of wood and teenagers.
• Hybrids

Dual fuel, Water source heat pumps, and much more are good options.
The concepts are simple but there are very few contractors who really understand how to fix the equipment when it needs maintenance.