What Good is a DIY Book for Radon Professionals?? - CERTI Radon Training Programs

    You are currently here!
  • Home
  • Uncategorized What Good is a DIY Book for Radon Professionals??

What Good is a DIY Book for Radon Professionals??

Doug Kladder Comments Off

A radon professional coming to the CERTI site might ask themselves what good is a course based on a DIY Book on radon testing and installation to them.  After all they have been trained, examined, and certainly are experienced.  So, what possible use is a DIY Book to them?  After all, they should already know everything. 

This month marks the publication of the third edition of “Protecting Your Home from Radon,” aka the DIY Book.  Since its first publication in 1993 (oh my gosh that is 30 years ago – I feel old), it has been used in many different ways by radon professionals, engineers, architects, and consumers.  Allow me to share some history so you can get a feel for how you may be able to use it or some permeation thereof.

The initial creation of portions of the book came as a result of not having mitigation bids accepted by homeowners.  They decided to do it themselves based upon the approach outlined in our proposal.  That prompted us to offer a consultation and sell marked-up materials off of our truck that they could not easily find, or not have to buy a 2,000 square foot roll of poly when they only need a ¼ of that.  As one would expect, the results were not always stellar because all of the details of a verbal explanation did not survive beyond the sight of our taillights.  So, we created cut-sheets and instructions. 

Then, a need arose in Wyoming, which is a state of enormous size and only one mitigation contractor to service it.  So, to assist Wyoming in their outreach efforts we pulled all the cut sheets together into a book for highly capable do-it-yourselfers to install a proper mitigation system.  After all, what good is it to advise folks to test and fix their homes, if there were no contractors available to do so.  The first edition of the book was created – complete with sketches made from MS Paintbrush and other highly sophisticated graphics programs at the time.  And it worked for the cowboys of Wyoming and elsewhere as well.

When the book came out, it was not received well by the radon community.  We received many negative comments from mitigation contractors and even state radon program managers along the lines of “You are going to kill my business” or “What if a homeowner falls off a ladder?”    More interestingly though, were complaints of “How dare you tell people that the discharge has to be above the gutter and away from windows?”  or “What do you mean I should use Schedule 40 PVC rather than SDR pipe?” or “There is no need for a U-Tube when the lack of noise from the fan should be enough to tell them the system is not working.”

Aside from the one threat to do bodily harm, we realized the book was creating a very powerful entity and that is the Informed Consumer!  What was happening was that consumers were holding radon contractors to a standard.  Granted there are now ANSI/AARST standards, but as standards they can be difficult to read by the consumer.  Having an easy-to-read book based upon the standards provided a litmus test for proper bids.  Boy did that upset a lot of fly-by-nighters! 

The next iteration was to use the book as a basis for delivering DIY courses at Building Supply stores.  We would give a two-hour course on a Saturday morning at a Home Depot or Lowe’s.  It was amazing how many people would come.  But even more eye opening was that typically half of the people who attended had not tested their houses yet.  So, we asked “why are you spending a beautiful Saturday morning learning about how to fix your home, when you don’t’ know you have a problem?”  The answer was always along the lines of “I didn’t want to test my home unless there was a solution.”  Wow, what a revelation.  Don’t ever deliver a program promoting testing unless you share the simple fix.

The second revelation was in the eyes of the attendees.  Many were still of the impression that you could solve the issue with a couple tubes of caulk.  Problem solved!  However, when they realized they would be spending several quality hours in their crawlspaces or drilling through concrete and portions of their house and running electrical, they decided it would be best to use a professional.  So, this is the first business use of the DIY Book for Radon Professionals:

Deliver DIY programs for radon mitigation:

  • Use the book as a guide – even sell it for interested attendees (wholesale pricing can be made available).
  • Take test kits for individuals to confirm they have a problem.
  • Talk about techniques and let them decide if they want to contact you for a personal visit and bid.

A few years after the book was published, a course was approved for CE credits for professionals to renew their certifications.  After all, one would want professionals to know at least as much as consumers-right?

The response from the CE course was both overwhelming and gratifying.  Comments and calls indicated that this was more useful than just a CE course. 

Professionals Using Course for purposes beyond CE Credits:

  • Using it to train employees by showing illustrations in the book rather than hand-drawn sketches on paper.
  • Using it to show clients their approach was more than just a few tubes of caulk.  In other words, it provided a third-party confirmation of the approach they were proposing was valid.
  • Providing a few tips and tricks they had not thought about.

As a training and illustration example to clients remains a key use of the book.

The next iteration of the book was to adapt it to Canadian requirements.  With the assistance of Colin and Karin Dumais and Renatta McQueen we created the Canadian version.  If you think Wyoming has a low density of radon contractors, it was even more of an issue in Canada.  The DIY book, with assistance of the British Columbia Lung Association was adapted and served a gap until the presence of mitigation contractors increased to meet the demand.

As mentioned before, we are now at the third edition which includes a lot more photos and step-by-step instructions describing innovative approaches of mitigation contractors from both the US and Canada and it remains a valuable tool for the radon professionals:

  • Basis for Consumers to be informed as to what proper mitigation systems are,
  • A means to validate your approach described in your mitigation proposal,
  • A core element to public outreach programs for testing and mitigation,
  • A means to train new employees working under your certification,

So, to answer the opening question “What Good is a DIY Book for Radon Professionals?” 

It can provide a lot of good in promoting quality systems and informed consumers.  After all, after 25,000 plus copies distributed we like to think we have vicariously helped to reduce radon in 25,000 homes.  Use this as a tool to educate and promote your business as an upstanding contractor.

Who says there is nothing new in radon?

Doug Kladder

Technical Advisor to CERTI