Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas. Its mitigation is essential to prevent any adverse effects. Common methods include soil suction, ventilation systems, sealing, and waterborne radon reduction. After installing the right mitigation system, it is crucial to keep monitoring radon levels. Prompt action is required if high radon levels are suspected.
Radon results from the decay of uranium found in nearly all soils. Colorless, odorless, and tasteless, radon is a silent threat that can seep into homes and buildings. Prolonged exposure to high radon levels can increase the risk of lung cancer. To protect your health and the health of your loved ones, it is vital to understand this one concept – how do radon mitigation systems work to reduce indoor radon levels?
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Radon Entry Points
Before diving into how mitigation systems work, it is essential to understand how radon enters homes. This happens through three main channels:
- Soil: Radon typically moves from the ground into the air above and then into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation.
- Water Supply: Radon can enter dwellings through the water supply, especially if it is sourced from underground wells.
- Building Materials: Some building materials, like concrete, can also be a source of radon, though it is less common.
The Goal of Radon Mitigation
The primary objective of radon mitigation is to reduce indoor radon levels. This can be achieved by preventing radon from entering the home or removing it once it is inside. A successful mitigation system can reduce radon levels to the recommended EPA levels (i.e., 4.0 pCi/L) or even lower.
Types of Radon Mitigation Systems
There are several types of radon mitigation systems. The best type for your home depends on the design of your home and other factors. However, here are a few commonly used today:
Soil Suction Radon Reduction Systems
This is the most common type of radon mitigation. The method addresses radon at its most common source: The Ground. It involves drawing radon from beneath the house and venting it outside, thus preventing it from entering the home in the first place. There are several sub-types, including:
- Sub-slab depressurization: A suction pipe is inserted through the floor slab into the soil or rock beneath.
- Drain-tile suction: Uses existing perimeter drain tiles to remove radon.
- Sump-hole suction: Utilizes the existing sump pump hole to draw radon out.
It is a passive method, meaning it does not require significant changes to the house’s structure while directly tackling radon at its primary source.
These can be used to reduce radon levels by increasing ventilation, especially in basements and crawl spaces. The system increases the air exchange rate in the basement, diluting the radon concentration. Fresh outdoor air displaces the radon-laden air, which is then vented outside.
Pressurization is the process of artificially creating a pressure difference between the interior and exterior of the home. It involves using a fan to create a positive pressure in the basement, which prevents radon from entering the house. It is efficient in homes where soil suction might not be ideal, and there is no need for external venting systems.
Sealing alone is insufficient to reduce radon levels, but it boosts the effectiveness of other mitigation systems by reducing the flow of radon into the home. It also helps improve energy efficiency by preventing drafts.
Waterborne Radon Reduction
This system is used if radon enters your home through your water supply. It involves aeration or activated charcoal to remove radon before it is released into the air during water use. The method is efficient and straightforward, especially if water is the house’s sole or primary source of radon.
Installation of a Mitigation System
Typically, a professional will evaluate your home to determine the best mitigation strategy. They will consider the home’s foundation design and other factors like the local geology and soil type.
A small pit is dug in the foundation slab during installation, and a PVC vent pipe is inserted. This pipe runs up and out of the home, usually extending above the roofline. A fan is added to the system to pull the radon gas from beneath the house and expel it outside.
What Happens When The Right Mitigation System Is Installed?
A standard radon mitigation system, commonly known as Active Soil Depressurization (ASD), operates by creating a negative pressure beneath the foundation of a building to prevent radon gas from entering. A hole is drilled into the foundation slab or beneath it, into which a PVC pipe is inserted.
A specialized fan is attached to this pipe, drawing radon gas from the soil below. The system then vents this radon gas through the pipe, which extends above the roofline, safely releasing it into the outdoor air. This continuous suction prevents radon entry and reduces the concentration of radon in the building, ensuring a safer indoor environment.
Once installed, it is crucial to retest your home’s radon levels to ensure the system is effective. Continuous monitoring is also advisable to ensure radon levels remain low over time.
If you suspect high radon levels in your home, it is essential to act swiftly. While radon is a silent and invisible threat, its effects are very real. Understanding the dynamics of each radon mitigation system’s work is crucial for homeowners. It allows for selecting the most effective method tailored to the house’s specific needs. Therefore, investing in a high-quality radon mitigation system will be an investment in all inhabitants’ long-term health and safety.
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