Before calling – Before calling with a service question, find your job number or the date your system was installed. Look on the label by your vacuum gauge, on your proposal or on your invoice.
Your vacuum gauge – We install U tube manometers on our systems. This simple gauge doesn’t tell you what your radon level is, but it does tell you if your fan is working. It’s a U shaped tube with red oil in it. One side of it is plugged into your radon vent pipe. Your radon fan creates a vacuum in the vent pipe and tries to pull the fluid up one side of the U, like sucking on a straw. There should be pencil marks on your gauge showing where the fluid levels should be. There are photos of guages in the Photo Gallery.
Gauge is at 0 – This usually means that your fan has quit and should be replaced. Before calling for service, check the following:
1. If your fan is outside, make sure the waterproof switch is turned on.
2. Check your ground fault interrupters (The little push buttons on some of the outlets in your basement, garage, kitchen and bath). If they have tripped, push the “reset” button.
3. Make sure you don’t have a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse.
4. If possible, plug something into the outlet that your fan is plugged into to make sure the outlet is working.
On the coldest winter days, some systems will quit when the pipe fills with frozen condensation. This doesn’t harm the fan. When the temperature rises by 10 – 20 degrees, the frost should melt and the gauge will go back to normal. If the problem persists for more than a week, call us. We may be able to add insulation to the pipe to prevent future freeze ups.
Gauge higher than normal – This usually means that it’s been raining a lot and ground water has risen to a point just below your basement floor. Your suction pipe is essentially “plugged” with water. Sometimes, if you put your ear to the pipe, you can hear the water sloshing. Your basement may be in danger of flooding. If you have a sump pump, make sure it is working.
Noisy fan – When a fan goes bad, it’s usually because the bearings are bad. Bad bearings will cause a high pitched squeal, a low pitched rumble or an unusual amount of vibration in the pipe. Call for a replacement.
What your sump does – Most homes with a sump hole have a loop of 3” or 4” perforated drain tile pipe around the interior or exterior perimeter of their basement. The drain tile channels ground water to the sump hole where the pump can remove it. If there is enough water in your sump the reach the midpoint of the drain tile pipes, you are in danger of a flooded basement and should install a pump. If you remove your sump cover, your radon system will be ineffective until the cover is replaced.
Servicing your pump – To remove your sump lid, remove the screws securing it, disconnect the water discharge pipe and lift the lid off. If your radon vent pipe goes through the sump lid, you can usually lift the pipe up and over to get it out of your way. If there is a check valve on the water discharge pipe above the lid, disconnect the bottom of the valve to prevent a gush of water. If there is just a rubber coupling, be ready (with a bucket and a towel) for a gush of water as the pipe drains. Always unplug the pump before disconnecting the pipe. After servicing the pump, make sure the float (if there is one) doesn’t bind on the side of the sump hole.
Installing a new pump – If you’ve never had a sump pump, cut holes in the lid for the pipe and wire. After reinstalling the lid, use rubber seals or plumber’s putty to seal around the pipe and wire. A plumber can furnish and install the whole system. Make sure he knows that you need rubber seals at the pipe and wire. You must use a submersible pump, not a pedestal pump. Avoid pumps that have a float on a cord that can get hung up on the side of your sump hole.