Should I begin, "It was a dark and stormy night..."? It wasn't, but my phone did ring.
It was a former client on the phone, for whom I had done an inspection and radon test last winter.
The radon test turned out to be high and the seller had it remediated, according to their contract.
The conversation was among the most interesting I have ever had.
"Jay, we are really worried about that radon system they put in. You said it would draw air from under the house and blow it outside. The vent fan is in the attic and we are afraid there is a big problem with it."
"What's the problem?"
"Well, Judy Kabloody's room is really hot. We are worried that the vent fan might be blowing the radon residue into her room." (That may not be the girl's real name)
"Yeah. Radon is radioactive. We think there might be a leak in the tubing and the heat from the radon residue is making Judy Kabloody's room hot. Can you come back to our house and try to figure out what's going on?"
There's so much wrong with that "understanding" about radon it is hard to begin!
Their youngest daughter was present at the inspection. She is six. In a fun way, I teased her mercilessly during the inspection, endeared her to me forever, and gave her the nickname Kabloody. This was the weirdest call I have gotten in a while! It is filled with misunderstanding and intrigue! Radon residue???
I suspected that radon just might not be causing the problem in the room. So I brought my thermal camera.
Going into the attic I found where the vent tube exited the roof. Right over Judy Kabloody's room! Her room is 12x14 or so. Around where the vent tube turns 90 degrees and the donut-shaped vent fan is installed was serious disturbance of the blown-fiberglass insulation. The installers had been very inconsiderate to say the least.
Some insulation had been removed, much of the rest around the tubing crushed, and the area was about seven feet around. That's a lot of insulation to be missing. That amount of missing or crushed insulation will certainly affect a small room, especially one on the sunny side of the house. You can see that disturbance in the thermal image. That round thing in the image is the smoke detector...
So I took a thermal image, showed them what was up, told them how to fix it, cleared up one or two minor misconceptions about radon (!), blew the smoke off the end of my six shooter and rode off into the sunset. ANOTHER SERIOUS MYSTERY SOLVED!
Where do people get such misconceptions as these!? It goes to show how much education is really needed out there! You never know what people understand, expect, desire, or are willing to find out for themselves!
My recommendation: I never assume that people understand everything I am telling them. People do call me all the time with questions that are easily researched and answered for themselves. My definition of education is to learn how to think for yourself. We can all use a little more of that!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560