Radon is a radioactive gas or chemical that is found in the soil and sometimes in water in some geological locations. It is naturally occurring, odorless, tasteless and cannot be seen. When exposed to the gas, it can have deadly health effects on humans.
It is the highest cause of radiation for most people and its level of exposure may differ from one place to another. In homes, it can accumulate in crawl spaces and in basements.
When a building is exposed to radon, there is a need to lower its level of exposure. This is typically referred to as mitigation. You may read more about it from this article.
What Radon Mitigation is All About
This is a system or process that is used to reduce the level of radon concentration in a building. As per the United States Environmental Protection Agency, radon levels in buildings should be below 4 pCi/L. A high-quality mitigation system will reduce the radon exposure level to less than 2 pCi/L.
Typically what determines the type of mitigation system that would be used for your home is based on the foundation design. This may be a basement, a crawl space, or a slab-on-grade. Some buildings may have more than one type of foundation design.
That is, a building may have a basement as well as slab-on-grade. In this case, more than one radon mitigation technique may be used. To start with, a mitigation expert will conduct a visual inspection of the building. From this, they may be able to determine which system to use.
If they are not able to deduce the right approach via this method, then a diagnostic test will be carried out instead. You should ensure to provide any necessary information about your house that will help the contractor in choosing an ideal system.
The decision to carry out diagnostic tests will largely depend on several factors. These include your foundation design, the type of material underneath your home and the experience of the mitigation expert with similar buildings.
Benefits of Radon Mitigation
When a building is exposed to radon for a long time, occupants of such a structure risk having lung cancer. For smokers, the risk is higher and for people who work in mines and water treatment plants, the risk is much higher.
Therefore the major benefit of radon mitigation is a reduced risk of lung cancer and ultimately preventing death. Another benefit to it may be reduced humidity levels in a home especially in its basement. The fan can help to reduce the infiltration of moisture.
It is important that you consistently test for the presence of radon especially if you live in an area that is prone to it. Also, you should do this when you are buying a new house or moving into a new one. Even if you have a radon-reduction system in place, it is recommended to test for it every two years. This helps you to ensure it is remain at low levels.
Testing is easy and you can do it by yourself. You only need to buy a test kit and follow the instructions or guidelines. This is important so that you can get accurate results. If the result is not accurate or cannot be ascertained, you will need to carry out the test all over again.
You should also make use of a qualified measuring device. Most states may be able to make available a list of test devices you can get from qualified labs.
On average, a test typically takes around 48 hours minimum. This is dependent on the kit used. Some other tests may last anything between 4 – 7 days. Ensure that all conditions are adhered to during the test including keeping doors as well as windows closed. The building should be preconditioned 12 hours before the start of the test.
If conducting the test by yourself, make sure that you return the device to the lab promptly. Also, ensure to complete any information that is required. These include the start as well as stop times of the test, the location and so on.
Alternatively, you can hire a professional tester to carry out the test for you. States typically issue identification cards to qualified personnel stating the tester’s identification number. You can ask to see this and if possible request the ID number be included on the test result. You can learn more about testing your home for radon here https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-home-guide/radon-poisoning.
Common Radon Mitigation Systems
There are several systems that mitigation experts may use to lower the level of radon in a place. Some of these prevent radon from entering the building while others are used to reduce its level when it is already inside. It is always better to go for prevention.
A common system for radon mitigation uses a fan and underground pipes. Such a system is known as active soil depressurization and does not require you to make any major changes to your building. This system will remove radon gas from underneath a membrane that is in a crawl space or from a concrete floor.
It will also remove it from the foundation before it enters the building. Any holes, seams, or cracks in a foundation needs to be blocked to make it effective. In fact, sealing these cracks and any other opening in walls and floors is a basic part of any mitigation system.
Sealing openings helps to limit radon flow into the building and also helps to prevent conditioned air from leaving it. This makes these techniques quite effective as well as cost-efficient. However, sealing alone is not recommended. It only serves to enhance whatever system you have in place but does not lower radon levels consistently or significantly.
It can be quite difficult to fully identify and seal all the places where radon can come in. You may block some but new openings may pop up.
Sub-membrane is another method that can be used to lower radon in a building. It is used in crawl spaces where plastic sheets are used to cover exposed dirt. This extends onto the wall and then it is sealed. A pipe then penetrates this plastic sheeting and pulls the gas away from the crawl space and then releases it outside.
Choosing a Mitigation Company
As the owner or buyer of a building, you should be the one to choose the company that installs the mitigation system. Most times the seller wants to use the cheapest and quickest option in order to sell off the house. This might not be ideal for you as you will be taking over the property.
Instead, you should get a top quality radon reduction system that will endure and keep the levels low for a long time. Here are some things to consider when selecting a mitigation company.
- Get bids from several contractors. The highest price is not always the best and the cheapest may not be particularly good. Therefore, endeavor not to use the price as the deciding factor, Check out for their quality of work and experience instead.
- Ensure that you choose a certified company such to install your mitigation system. You can visit Radon KC Pros for help with finding professionals.
- Confirm what they are offering and obtain an on-site quote.
- You should preferably go for a company within your locality or ask around for local references. A local company will better understand the terrain and will have experience doing this in the area.
- Get a warranty that covers the radon reduction process and ensure to read and understand the fine print.
- Ensure you agree on a price with the mitigation company and there should be no hidden fees. You may be presented with a basic price and later extra costs may be added based on different factors. Rather than this, get a firm price so that you know what you are paying up front.
- Confirm the reduction system that will be used and how it will look. Choose a company that will ensure that the installation is aesthetically pleasing and blends well with your home.
It is recommended to have follow-up testing immediately after a mitigation system has been installed. This is to test its performance and confirm that it actually works. Additionally even after you have confirmed that the system works, you should also try to do a retest every two years.
This is to ensure the system still works and the radon level is still below 4 pCi/L. Regular testing helps to secure your home and prevent you from the health risk associated with radon. Confirm that it is working instead of having a false sense of security. This is one good reason why you should engage experienced mitigation experts.
Radon is a poisonous gas that carries with it a health hazard if present in your surrounding or home. Thankfully, its level of exposure can be reduced to a reasonable level through some mitigation techniques.
There are different mitigation systems available and the one to be used will largely depend on your home design. After a system has been installed, ensure to check that it works. It is also recommended that you conduct another test after two years.