Pro-lab test equipment

Hi there,
I have a new inspection business that I am trying to get off the ground. I have performed 3 paid inspections and want to add some ancillary services. I have lost 2 inspections already due to not being able to test for radon. The services I am thinking about are radon, water quality, asbestos, mold, and lead. I am working through the radon Radon Measurement Professional Initial Training but am not yet finished or certified. What I am wondering is if I can use the single use Pro-Lab tests, specifically the short term radon test, to test for Radon before I finish my certification or if they are even accurate enough to be useful? I also want to know if I can use the mold, asbestos, and lead single use tests from Pro-Lab as accurate testing methods that will hold up in court? I have my advanced mold inspection training course completed but nothing else regarding asbestos or lead.

I am trying to maximize my potential earnings while not buying more equipment until I know what my local market demands.

Thank in advance for the advice!

Andy Marshall
Handy Andy’s Building Solutions
Bozeman, MT.

Are you referring to the crap “consumer grade” tests you buy at DIY stores?
Does Montana require licensing or certifications for any of those tests?
IMO… DO NOT perform ANY of those services until you are fully trained, certified and licensed. You are providing those services to a consumer as a professional service provider, and yes, an attorney will have your ass for breakfast in court if you are not qualified and can prove it!!


That was my worry. Yes the tests I am talking about are the $50 consumer grade tests that you mail to their laboratory. Montana (from what I have researched) only requires licensing for radon.

Thanks for the advice and all of the useful conversations in the forum.

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Also remember that those DIY tests take about two-three weeks to get results back from the lab, which makes them totally useless (even if they were of good quality).


Charcoal canisters will give you the lowest start up costs but involve a bit more planning and administrative work on your end. You cannot set a delay if you arrive to the property and windows are open. You also have to deliver them to a mail box after retrieving.

Buying a used CRM is also an option and is what I did when starting. You can find them fairly cheap on eBay and in this forum’s classified section (selfless promotion alert: I have one for sale currently and will be selling another soon).

Here is a link to a good place to buy charcoal canisters if you go that route…

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these are cheaper and come in the real estate double pack as required for real estate transactions.
shipping is included as well.
Must have an account to buy from there.


Oops, I linked to the consumer offering. They do have a pro offering as well but you have to log in to see the pricing. I did have an account with them so I could check the price but they must have closed my account for lack of activity.

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I used RTCA for many years. Their Pro pricing was basically 50% of Retail.
I did not purchase their discounted postage.
I always used USPS Priority Express (overnight). If a Sunday, I shipped from the airport so it still moved for the one day service.
RTCA’s policy is results the same day they receive the test medium, so I would almost always have results the following day, just as I finished the report and was ready to send it off!


Thanks for that. When does it make sense to buy equipment vs. single use canisters for short term tests?

There are many factors to make that decision for your company. I used canisters for about 12 years, (EMSL then RTCA), and never switched over to CRM’s.

Radon was a difficult sell in MN, and being in a rural small town, the local “Siding, Window, and Radon Mitigation” company (being the local ‘good-old-boy’) had an in with the local realtors, charging almost nothing ($75) to get the mitigation business. Often, I would do an inspection and find their CRM’s with 1 to 2 year EXPIRED calibrations! Being an (at the time) unlicensed state, there was nobody to report them to.

When MN went to licensing a couple of years ago, and everyone began charging $150-$200, these dirtbags stayed at $100. With the added BS (expenses, hoops, etc.) the licensing created, I made the business decision to get out of the Radon testing business altogether. Sure, I lost some business from some agents, but others have replaced them and my life is simpler without the headaches or added expenses. Radon was never a profit center, but just a added service for the benefit of my clients. I now refer to a company that does rehab/restoration work and is top notch quality in everything they do.

My point of all this is do not make make major purchases until you have your needs figured out as to what is best for your company. Many inspectors spend tons of money on ‘tools’ that they never use past day 3. Just look at the plethora of CRM’s that get sold with little to no use. Also be aware, most companies DO NOT stand behind/support their units beyond the 10-year mark. Sun Nuclear being the latest addition to the list. I see many of these units being sold off at the 9-12 year mark. IMO, it’s wasted money purchasing one that old.

Go with a professional canister set for one year to gauge your actual needs. Two benefits are, the Lab does most of the paperwork required, and NO calibrations every year!!

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Try Radon Pro. They have a starter kit for new inspectors. Their overnight FedEx shipping labels are cheaper than and other carriers including FedEx them selves. They will also customize the report results to include your logo if you like.

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That is great advice. I am definitely prone to trying to throw money at a problem and expecting it to be resolved.

How do I pick which company I get my canisters through? RTCA seems to be the popular choice?

Thanks. That is great to know. I will check them out.

Beware… FedEx is NOT a 7-day company, so your shipments will typically not move over the weekends!!

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Use professional companies ONLY. If and when you have an issue, they will be the ones to stand in your corner to help and with the expertise necessary. I used EMSL for years, top notch Lab, until their rep screwed me over on an overnight shipment I needed for a commercial job. I switched to RTCA and couldn’t have been happier with their services!!

Note: both of those companies used actual charcoal canisters, unlike the cheap-ass
sponges-hangin’-on-a-string” that the HI favored companies are 'cause they’re cheap!
You wanna talk unprofessional looking? OY!!

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Who have you used to ship and did you always send it overnight?

I used FedEx and UPS for a while, but they are expensive and from Rural areas, they are very inconsistent. I switched to USPS Priority 2-3 day until everybody started pushing the CRM’s to realtors and bragging about the timeframe saved. They pushed the “extra 2 days for results” and turned the realtors against those they weren’t in bed with. As the always improving businessman I am, I switched to USPS Priority Express Overnight (7 days a week service) and with the RTCA “same day results” promise, the claims of CRM’s saving time became a moot issue and was never a problem again!!

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Thanks for answering that twice. I should go back and reread before I ask followup questions.

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In fairness, the only time I ever had issues with RTCA meeting their sameday promise, was during the Sandy Hurricane (RTCA is NJ based). The real issue was with the USPS not being able to deliver the test kit, (no shippers could), but when it was, I got my results the next day due to the backlog with deliveries hitting all at once. I warned my clients and they had no issue waiting for the results.

This is the only time that a CRM would have an advantage. IMO.

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No problem. It’s can get complicated. It’s definitely something you don’t want to rush through and make a mistake.

Good luck to you.

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