Radon Mitigation: So, You Have Radon, Now What?

Radon Entry Into Home WIN Home Inspection.png

After radon testing, learning that there are high levels of radon in your home is the last thing anyone wants to hear. Fortunately, there are many radon mitigation systems and techniques that can help solve this problem.

What is Radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can enter your house through concrete pores and cracks, as well as gaps in the walls or floor. Prolonged exposure to radon gas can cause serious health issues and is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

If your home tests positive for high levels of radon, you need to contact a radon mitigation specialist immediately. WIN Home Inspectors do not provide Radon Mitigation, but we can perform professional radon testing for your peace of mind.

Radon Reduction Based on Home Foundation Types

Radon mitigation specialists use many techniques to reduce radon in your home. Some systems focus on preventing radon from entering your home. Others try to lower radon levels after it has already been discovered. Contractors will inspect your home and decide on the best approach based on the foundation type.

Radon Mitigation in Slab Homes

Radon Mitigation in Slab Homes WIN Home Inspection

Also known as a floating slab foundation, slab-on-grade features concrete poured directly into a mold that’s set on the ground. For homes with this type of foundation, contractors will usually employ passive or active sub-slab suction or depressurization.

Contractors will drill a hole through the slab and into the soil below. A PVC pipe is then inserted to draw radon from the soil and release it outdoors. The active method of this technique uses a vent fan to draw out radon gases. The passive method relies on air currents and pressure differentials.

Radon Mitigation in Crawlspaces

If there is a shallow space between the soil and your floor, sub-membrane suction is often the best option. This technique uses a high-density polyethylene sheet to cover the soil. The edges of the plastic are sealed to the walls of the foundation. A vent pipe is then placed under the plastic to draw the radon gas from the soil and release it somewhere safe.

In some cases, contractors may also view ventilating the crawlspace as an effective method to reduce radon levels. This can be done actively by using fans or passively by opening vents or installing extra air vents.

Radon Mitigation in Basements

Radon Mitigation in Basements WIN Home Inspection

If your home has a basement, sub-slab suction or depressurization may also be a good option. If you have a sump pump to drain accumulated water, the sump cap can be modified to accommodate the radon suction pipe.

In addition to sub-slab suction, contractors may also recommend block wall suction if your basement’s wall is made of hollow blocks. This technique removes radon from the soil surrounding the block wall.
Other Radon Removal Techniques

Depending on the diagnostic outcome of your home inspection, contractors may suggest additional measures to lower radon levels in your home. Some of these techniques include the following.

Home Maintenance

Radon Mitigation Seal Foundation Cracks WIN Home Inspection

Sealing any cracks or any opening in the foundation is a basic measure to keep radon out of the house. This approach is not very effective as a standalone measure because it does not reduce current radon levels.

Ventilation

In some cases, contractors may also recommend increasing ventilation in the basement or the ground floor of your home. This can be achieved through natural means by opening the surrounding vents or windows.

Another popular way to ventilate basements is using a heat recovery ventilator (HRV). HRVs use heat from the exhausted indoor air to warm up the incoming outdoor air. In addition to keeping radon gases out, this efficient ventilator also improves the air quality of the room.

Room Pressurization

Creating pressure in the basement to keep radon gases out is another approach that homeowners can consider. To achieve this, fans are used to blow air in the basement. Windows and other basement openings are kept shut to maintain pressure. Typically, this approach is only considered after the other more efficient techniques have been used.

Radon in the Water Supply

Radon in the Water Supply WIN Home Inspection

Apart from the soil, your water supply can also be a source of radon in your home. Radon in the water poses a risk when the source is groundwater like a private well. Public water systems may use groundwater, but they usually treat water to reduce radon levels before distributing it to households.

To check your water supply is safe and healthy, homeowners and home buyers should get a water quality test from a trained inspector. WIN Home Inspectors can provide professional water quality testing, along with other ancillary services to learn about the current condition of your home.

If radon is found in water, experts use one of the two methods to reduce radon levels: point-of-entry or point-of-use treatment. Point-of-entry treatment uses an aeration system or granular activated carbon (GAC) filters to remove radon from the water before it enters your home. Point-of-use treatment, on the other hand, uses a device to remove radon only from the water that will be used.

What are the Costs of Radon Mitigation?

Radon mitigation costs generally compare to other common home repairs. The cost typically ranges from $800-$1,500. The national average is $1,200, but various factors can impact the cost of the radon mitigation system. The size of your home, its design and foundation, materials cost, and the type of climate in your area all affect the price of radon mitigation.

Aside from these, there are other elements you may have to consider when calculating the cost of the radon reduction system.

Retrofitting

If you want to keep the aesthetics of your home, you may have to spend more money during installation. For example, a system routed outside the house may be unattractive to look at. So, a good alternative would be to have the pipes retrofitted through an inner closet. This would require more work and can significantly increase the overall cost of the radon reduction system.

Operating Costs

In addition to the installation price, you also need to consider the system’s operation cost. You may be happy with a cheaper system only to be alarmed when you receive your utility bill. Although it is expected that your electricity use will increase slightly because your system can use fans. Also, the HVAC system may have to work more than usual since most radon reduction techniques entail the loss of cooled or warmed indoor air.

Testing for Radon: How WIN Home Inspection Can Help

Testing for Radon WIN Home Inspection

If you are concerned about the potential presence of radon in your home, contact your one-stop WIN Home Inspection professional for radon testing. Many WIN inspectors are certified in radon testing, meaning they can help you determine if you have high levels of radon in your home. WIN Home Inspectors do not perform radon mitigation, but can help you understand risk of radon to your home and health.

Click here to find a WIN Home Inspection expert near you. We offer radon testing that meets US EPA guidelines. If the test results indicate a dangerous level of radon in your home, contact a state-certified radon mitigation expert immediately.

Disclaimer: This article is not all-encompassing and may not provide complete information on every aspect of radon mitigation. We suggest that you do additional research and/or speak with a radon mitigation specialist when making decisions about your health and home.