What is Radon Mitigation? Found out you need to lower your home’s high radon levels?…
What is radon mitigation? How does it work? What is the difference between an interior and exterior radon mitigation system? These are just a few of the most common questions we have been asked over the years about radon mitigation. With thousands of mitigations under our belt, we thought we would share the answers to these questions.
What is Radon Mitigation?
To understand radon mitigation, it’s helpful to first know what radon is. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is produced from uranium deposits under the ground. It is a Class A human carcinogen meaning it has been proven to cause lung cancer in humans. Radon gas enters homes from the soil beneath and disperses throughout the house. When radon gas is inhaled, radioactive particles come in contact with the lung’s cells and DNA which can lead to lung cancer. The higher the concentration of radon and the longer the exposure, the higher the risk is for lung cancer.
The good news is radon can be significantly reduced (or “mitigated”) quickly and affordably. The goal of any radon mitigation system is to reduce the amount of radon gas that enters the home. The most effective radon mitigation method is called active soil depressurization. Gasses underneath the soil are naturally drawn toward the surface when the pressure above the ground is lower than the pressure under the ground. Active soil depressurization systems are designed to draw air from the soil beneath the home’s foundation into a pipe that has a specialized fan that pulls the air from the ground and delivers it safely to the outside air above the home’s roof level.
What is Involved in the Radon Mitigation Process?
There are 4 steps included in the mitigation process:
- Assessment – Upon arrival at your home, the certified technicians will ask you to show them into your home so they can assess where potential radon entry points are and the best location to install the mitigation system. This assessment includes a determination of where existing pipes and electrical connections are located and where the mitigation pipes and fan can be installed.
- Installation – For a home with a concrete foundation, the technicians will drill a 6” hole in the foundation and remove about (3) 5-gallon buckets of dirt/gravel under the hole to create a suction pit. Next, a pipe and collar are then installed in the hole of the foundation. The pipe will run either inside the house to the roof (interior system) or it will run outside the house and vent to the roof (exterior system). A fan is installed along the pipe that sucks the radon gas from the suction pit and delivers it to the outside air. Then, a manometer (a meter that detects air flow) is installed on the pipe where you can see the fan is working properly. For a home with a crawl space, the pipe will be installed under the vapor barrier material. The technicians will test the system to ensure all cracks have been sealed and the fan is properly sucking air from the soil.
- Sealing – During installation, the technicians will inspect to see if any cracks, cold joints, or voids in the concrete slab need to be sealed. While sealing these areas won’t solve the radon problem itself, it will help improve the efficiency of the radon system. For crawl spaces, they will install a vapor barrier material on top of the soil and seal it to the walls.
- Walkthrough – Once the mitigation process is complete, the technicians will show you the system, how it works, how to read the manometer, and answer any questions you may have.
What is the Difference Between an Interior and Exterior Radon Mitigation System?
Both interior and exterior systems start beneath the lowest floor of your home. The direction that the pipe goes from that point determines if it is an interior or exterior system. An interior radon mitigation system is installed on the inside of the home with the pipe exiting the roof. Looking from the outside of the house, the only thing you would see is a small amount of pipe coming out of the roof. An exterior radon mitigation system is primarily installed on the outside of the house. Looking from the outside of the house, you would see a pipe and rain gutter that exits to the roof.
Will a Mitigation System Completely Remove All Radon From My Home?
Because all homes and buildings are constructed from materials that have the potential for gas to move through them, a radon mitigation system is designed to significantly lower the amount of radon gas entering your home, but cannot completely remove all of the radon. In the majority of cases, radon levels can be lowered to the World Health Organization’s and/or the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended levels.
Is Radon a VOC (Volatile Organic Compound)?
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are typically human-made compounds that are emitted as gas from solids or liquids. Some examples of VOCs are industrial solvents, paint thinners, dry cleaning agents, and petroleum fuels. Both VOCs and radon present health issues related to air quality. When we inhale VOCs or radon, our lungs’ cells can be damaged. In the case of radon, radioactive particles can damage our lung cell’s DNA causing lung cancer. Radon mitigation systems have proven to be effective at reducing radon, and some studies show they can also be effective at reducing exposure to VOCs.
How Long Does the Mitigation Process Take?
While each home is different, our technicians can usually install a radon mitigation system in half a day. Homes with a crawl space can often take longer depending on the square footage.
Do I Need To Be Home During the Mitigation Process?
Ideally, yes – even if it’s just for the initial and final walkthroughs.This will allow the technicians to consult with you before and after the installation to ensure the location of the installation is agreed on and to answer any questions you may have.
Is There Anything I Need To Do Once My Mitigation System Has Been Installed?
After the system has been installed, you will need to retest your home’s radon level. The technicians will provide you with this test kit. Wait at least 24 hours from the time of the installation before testing. Then, from time to time, check the manometer on the pipe to make sure it reads above “0”. If it is at “0”, contact Utah Radon Services.
How Much Does it Cost to Run a Radon Mitigation Fan per Month?
Every home is different so it’s impossible to provide an exact dollar amount, but the majority of the homes where we have installed a radon mitigation system pay anywhere from $4-8 per month to run the fan (similar to the cost of paying for (1) 75 watt bulb to run 24/7 for a month).
Have more questions? Contact Utah Radon Services.