CT Basement Systems Radon Blog by Matthew A. Bednarz V.P.


Posted by Matthew Bednarz on Tue, Oct, 11, 2016 @ 10:10 AM



Unless you've been away from CT on vacation for a very long time, you're probably aware of the drought conditions we are facing here in CT.  Drive by a local reservoir, river or stream and you'll readily see signs that we're definitely experiencing a deficit in rain fall.






 What oftentimes gets overlooked is the affect climatic conditions have on  our private water well systems...particularly rainfall deficits.  While up to  97% of the world's fresh water supply is sub surface, this doesn't mean that  well pumps are drawing from an infinite source.  Wells are drilled down until  there are signs of enough water filling the bore hole.  If the "yield" (flow of  water into the well) is poor, the driller keeps drilling down until a marked  improvement is noted.  The downside to consider is; the deeper you go -  the bigger the equipment needed to deliver the water up into the home to  point of use.  Bigger = more $$$.




Drought_pic_tied_faucet.jpg We're currently getting more and more calls  from home owners with wells regarding  problems with water quality, treatment  system issues, and even problems with  appliances that utilize water.  The sad reality  is; aside from conserving water as best you  can, there's not much you can do about the availability of water in the ground for use. 

With respect to water conservation, things like doing full loads of laundry, running the dishwasher with a full load of dishware, shortening shower times...and cutting back or altogether eliminating irrigation are the hallmarks of water conservation for the private water well owner.  

The first tell tale signs of a water supply issue are typically the loss of water pressure or simply no water at the taps.  This oftentimes occurs first thing in the morning when the active modern day family is getting ready for the day's activities. In many cases, the well recovers by evening when everyone returns home, which encourages the homeowner to shrug it off as an "anomaly" or something else.  Repeated incidences of running out of water or pressure drops that start to happen more frequently indicate an acute problem turning chronic.




What's a home owner to do with a private water well during drought conditions?  Aside from the aforementioned water conservation measures, there are things that can be done to improve water supply issues. 

In - ground options:

Hydrofracking: This is a process where high pressure water is pumped into the well head.  The goal is for the pressure to open up & clear out the cracks in the bedrock into which the well is drilled.  The hope here is that these newly formed fissures and newly cleaned out existing ones will yield more water supplied to the well.  While this can be a successful process, there are no guaranties of any level of success.

Drill a new well: Drilling a new well is the most expensive option which also carries no guarantee of success unless you have a bottomless wallet.  In that case, the driller just keeps drilling until an adequate supply is tapped.  Aside from the cost of "drilling to China"; there is now that added expense of installing a pumping system robust enough to deliver the water to the surface...not to mention increased operational expense of bigger motors etc.Well_drilling_rig.jpg

In - house options:

PumpTec.jpg A "pump tec" can be installed to  monitor pump operation and  temporarily shut down the well  pump if a lack of water is detected.   While this doesn't solve the water  supply issue, the pump tec will at  least help protect the well pump  from burning out.  Most any well  system can benefit from the protection of a pump tec device.  Newer sub drive pump systems have a pump tec type feature built into the control panel.  The pump tec can be installed most often for a few hundred dollars, making it the most cost effective step to implement in dealing with wells affected by drought conditions.


Ganged_up_pressure_tanks.jpg Multiple pressure tanks:  Ganging up multiple  pressure tanks together will increase storage  capacity...marginally. A common misconception  regarding pressure tanks is that they fill up completely  with water.  The reality; pressure tanks - when full - are  only filled roughly one third the total volume of the tank.    As an example; the largest standard residential pressure  tank (WX 350 - 26" x 61" tall with a total volume of 119  gallons) holds 35 gallons when operating at a 40/60 psi  pressure cycle.  Ganging up pressure tanks should be  viewed as a strategy for increasing pump cycle time - not  to appreciably increase storage capacity.






Static_Tank_in_crawl_space-1.jpgStatic Storage:  Storing water at atmospheric pressure in large volumes is probably the most reliable / cost effective approach to dealing with water production issues from your well.  Water is pumped from the well, into tank(s) located in the basement.  When water is called for use, a pump sends water to that usage point.  If the well is stressed and can't produce a lot of water at once, the water can be added gradually to the static storage.  Once a reservoir has been developed, the well will have more time to "recover" because the water used in the home will be coming from the static system...not directly out of the ground.  This too doesn't solve the lack of available sub surface water, but it does make the situation more manageable at a fraction of the cost of some other options.



Contact us to optimize your water well performance

Topics: submersible well pump, well pump, aquifier, private water well system, water well system, ground water, well tank, water well, static storage systems, pressure tanks, storage tanks, well tanks, poor recovery rate

Radon Resistant New Construction

Posted by Matthew Bednarz on Mon, Jul, 30, 2012 @ 16:07 PM

Radon Resistant New Construction (edit/delete)

Radon Mitigation

Radon resistant new construction is becoming an accepted process by more & more home builders.  There is much misinformation in the marketplace regarding radon...especially regarding new homes.  A common misconception is; radon doesn't exist in new construction.

 Age of a structure can sometimes play a role in determining whether or not there will be a radon problem...but most often, it is not a critical factor. Theoretically; older structures that have substantial air leakage should have lower indoor airborne radon concentrations than newer energy efficient homes. The natural ventilation rate of a leaky home helps dilute down radon concentrations. However, if the radon source is strong enough - even a "leaky" or "energy inefficient" home will still have a radon problem.

It is not possible to completely eliminate radon from entering a new structure.  However; during the early stages of construction - there are radon resistant building practices that can be taken to help "build radon out"...& keep radon concentrations lower than if nothing were done.

 Before the slab is poured, a network of perforated pipe is laid out across the future slab area of the new structure.  There are many pipe configuration variations that can be utilized.  The pic below illustrates a new school we did where the architect required prefab suction boxes with vapor barrier laid under & over the gravel bed.  Whichever pipe configuration is chosen; a stub is connected somewhere in line of this sub slab pipe run.  This stub will be the connection point for a future active radon system if needed.  It is best to try to keep the stub location as close as possible to the intended future vertical pipe run. The new basement floor or slab is poured over the barrier. The new slab is allowed to cure. After curing, any expansion joints, cracks, & the floor wall joint should be sealed with a urethane caulk.

sub slab pipe network

 Once framing has been completed, pipe is connected to the stub that is protruding from the slab, & is routed up through the framed structure, & roof. It is preferable to run the pipe up through the structure in an interior wall to maximize convection . The more streamline the pipe run - the more air that is able to be pulled out from under the slab.  the pipe should penetrate the roof sheathing before the new shingle is installed.

 The other important aspect to keep in mind is where the pipe enters the attic. It will hopefully be located in an area that will remain accessible even after duct work & air handlers have been installed. This becomes key if a radon mitigation fan unit is to be connected to the pipe. Also, there should be 3 feet of vertical / accessible pipe available in the attic to allow for a fan installation if needed.


Interior Route ASD System Interior Route ASD System

After the structure is "conditioned"...it should be tested for radon...this is true even if other new homes in the same area were found not to have a problem.  If a problem is found; a sealed fan can be connected to the pipe in the attic which will create a very effective negative pressure field under the new slab that will prevent soil gas & radon from permeating upward. The active system will also contribute to reducing moisture levels in the basement. The system will be effective & inconspicuous.

 If the home has a private water well, remember to run a second pipe to the attic from a location as close to where the well tank will be positioned in the basement as possible. If a high waterborne radon level is found, an aeration system will be needed to mitigate the radon in water problem.  This system also requires a vent to the exterior. That secondary pipe can be utilized as an exhaust for a future aeration system.  If no problem is detected...the pipe makes for a convenient wire chase.

Radon resistant new construction practices are an important tool for the modern homebuilder.  Aside from preventing radon entry; these procedures ultimately provide a higher degree of comfort - both psychologically & physically - for the new home owner.  Dampness control, better aesthetics, greater reduction efficiencies are all byproducts of a well executed radon resistant construction strategy. There's simply no need to have exposed pipe on the outside of new structures if some forethought is put into design. 

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Topics: ventilation rate, negative pressure, radon resistant construction, well tank, radon, waterborne radon, airborne radon, soil gas, radon mitigation fan, radon fan