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Home » Home and Garden » Indoor Air and Water Quality » Radon

Radon Mitigation and Remediation

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If you have a radon problem in your home, there are many techniques  that a radon professional can utilize to reduce the levels of radon in your home. There are various techniqes used for radon mitigation and remediation. Some of these options work to prevent radon from entering your home. Others focus on reducing radon levels already in the home. 

The radon professional you choose should conduct an inspection of your house and design a radon reduction system that takes into consideration the special characteristics of your home. Sometimes additional radon or other diagnostic tests will need to be performed during the early phases of the installation. Chemical smoke is often used to determine the direction and source of air movement. Of special concern is the issue of backdrafting of combustion appliances when normal airflow is disturbed by radon mitigation systems. Your radon professional may work closely with heating and ventilation specialists to make sure all systems in your home will work properly.

A technique called active subslab suction or subslab depressurization is the most commonly used and often the most effective radon reduction system. This system involves one or more suction pipes which are inserted through the floor slab into soil or crushed rock below. Another technique is to insert a suction pipe below the concrete slab from the outside of the home. In many cases, the ease of air movement in the crushed rock dictates that location and number of suction pipes needed. A radon vent fan that is connected to the suction pipes works to draw radon gas from underneath the house. It is then released into the outdoor air while creating a vacuum beneath the slab.  Fans are often located in attics or on the exterior of the house.

For homes with crawlspaces, an effective method to reduce radon levels involves placing a high-density plastic sheet on the earth floor. Both a vent pipe and a fan work to draw the radon from underneath the plastic sheet and then vent it outside.  This is called submembrane suction. In many cases it is the most effective way to reduce radon levels in homes with crawlspaces.  

Several other techniques exist to reduce radon. Some of these methods include: sealing cracks, pressurization, heat recovery ventilation, and even natural ventilation.

It goes without saying that sealing cracks and other openings in the basement foundation is an integral part of most radon mitigation and remediation attempts. By sealing the cracks you help to limit the flow of radon into the home. This makes other radon reduction techniques much more effective and cost-efficient.  It should be noted that sealing alone is not recommended. Although helpful, it has not been shown to significantly reduce radon levels by itself.

Pressurizing a home uses a fan to force air into the basement or living area, usually from the outdoors or from upstairs in the home. The idea is to create enough pressure in the basement to prevent radon gas from entering. This approach often results in a great deal of outdoor air being introduced into the home, which can cause moisture intrusion and energy efficiency problems (especially in very warm or very cold climates).  This option should be considered only after the other techniques have failed to sufficiently reduce radon levels in the home.

A device known as a heat recovery ventilator or an air-to-air heat exchanger can be used to improve ventilation. This, in turn, will help reduce the radon levels within your home.  A heat recovery ventilator helps ventilation by bringing in outdoor air while simultaneously using either the heated or cooled air being exhausted to heat or cool the incoming air.  These can be set up to ventilate all of your home or just part of it.  They are more effective in reducing radon gas levels, however, when used to ventilate just the basement.

By opening doors, windows, and vents on the lower floors of your home you can increase the natural ventilation in your house.  This can reduce radon gas in the indoor air by ventilation which mixes outdoor air with the indoor air containing radon. Once doors and windows are closed, however, radon gas concentrations often return high levels within just a few hours.  This type of natural ventilation should normally be used only as a temporary radon reduction system. Natural ventilation causes loss of conditioned air which can greatly increase costs.

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