We’ve written about radon a couple times in the past. Once as an overview to the issue and once when we tested the radon levels in our home. But I don’t think we’ve ever written about the mitigation system itself.
A radon mitigation system is just a white PVC tube starting under the foundation and exhausting outside. There is a fan inside the pipe that blows air from out from under the basement.
Radon is heavier than the other components of air, so it tends to collect in the lowest areas of a home. Blowing it out using a system like this has been found to be an effective way to reduce the indoor radon levels. Here is one of many EPA pages that talks about radon and real estate.
The photo shows the most interesting portion of the system. There is usually a label posted at eye level identifying the pipe as a radon mitigation system. And sometimes there is a liquid filled tube that tells you if your system’s fan is working.
Here’s what I recommend you do:
Test a home for radon before you buy it. It’s very likely that the seller will address any issues that are discovered. And if elevated radon is a dealbreaker for you, then you will have an opportunity to back out of the deal.
If you didn’t test your home when you bought, then test it now. I recommend a continuous monitoring test that will take about 2 days and cost less than $300. You want to know if there is elevated radon levels in your home, especially if you spend a lot of time in your property’s lowest level.
Retest your home after you do any major insulation projects. Blocking all the ways that cold air gets into your home may also be preventing radon from leaving. Do another test just to be safe.
Radon mitigation systems cost between $1,000 and $2,000 right now, so they’re not super expensive compared to other home repairs. They’re also very effective at reducing radon levels in a home.
Radon is dangerous. Do the test, you’re worth it.
PS – Radon can also be in water. But that risk generally limited to homeowners with wells since the public water utilities monitor the quality of their water. You can, and should, test for radon in water too. But that’s a very different situation and a story for another day.