Radon Mitigation Insight
You may already know that January is radon awareness month. You may already know that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America. And, you may also know that Nashville and the surrounding area are located in a class 1 radon zone.
So, we're going to skip the basics here and discuss other important considerations around testing for radon in your home and installing a mitigation system.
If you plan to have your radon levels checked this winter or will be installing a radon mitigation system, here are some tips you need to know before you start a project.
My initial radon test came back high. Now what should I do?
Most consumer-grade products capture data during a 48-96 hours window, which is only a brief snapshot in time. Radon levels fluctuate season to season, but they can also change day to day and are influenced by the weather and ambient pressure. So, after any short-term radon test, follow up with a long-term test to get a more accurate average. The longer you can collect data, the more accurate your results will be. A long-term test can provide you with a monthly or annual average radon reading, and it’s the long-term average that matters most when considering your overall risk.
What is a long-term radon test?
At E3 INNOVATE, our long-term radon test will collect data for 3 months to a year. Our short-term tests are designed to capture data during a 10 to 90 day period. So, even our short-term tests are much longer than your typical radon test. We also have the ability to track your radon levels digitally so that you can see the trends in radon levels from hour to hour. This digital test can also be done over a 30-day period.
What are some of the negative impacts that a radon system could have on my house that I should be aware of?
Because a house behaves like a system, adding an additional piece of equipment may cause changes to its overall performance. A traditional radon mitigation system works by using a fan to create negative pressure in a perforated pipe that extends under the house, thus drawing radon and other soil gases out through an exhaust pipe on the exterior façade. There are some cases in which this fan can create too much negative pressure on the envelope of the house (i.e. the building shell) and lead to infiltration. When this happens, homeowners can experience increased humidity issues in the summer and dry air with more static electricity in the winter. Air sealing the subfloor will prevent that from happening.
What should I look for in a well-designed radon mitigation proposal or estimate?
If you are having a mitigation system installed, it is important to consider how far under your foundation the installers plan to extend the piping. Sometimes, these pipes will only run three feet under your house. If you have a large footprint, a segmented crawlspace, or have an addition on your home that has a separate foundation, you may need to extend that piping further under the house to draw more of the radon and soil gases out.
Also, it is critical that the exhaust pipe extends above the roof line. If an exhaust fan terminates below the roof, radon can get sucked back into the house through leakage points around windows. We've seen cases like this where radon levels end up being higher on the second floor than on the lowest living level.
Another thing to look for in your proposal is whether or not a post-test is included. This is important! If you don’t re-test after the installation of the system, how are you to know it did any good? A short-term (10 to 90 day) follow up test, at a minimum, should be conducted.
Lastly, find out whether or not your installer offers a guarantee. Most of the time, consumers are happy to know a product or service comes with a guarantee. However, when it comes to radon, no one can guarantee your levels will be reduced below 4.0 pCi/L 100% of the time. There are just too many variables at play. So if you see a guarantee, question it. If your installer suggests a larger fan can be installed to increase the flow, be cautious of increasing infiltration on the envelope, as we discussed above. This is especially important if your subfloor has not yet been air sealed. If a radon mitigation system isn’t enough to reduce levels to an acceptable amount, E3 has a supplemental strategy that will monitor radon levels and adjust your supply of fresh outdoor air. This helps to dilute radon and can help maintain lower levels year-round.
E3 INNOVATE issued over 130 radon tests in 2019. We have over ten years of experience working with integrated home performance projects in the Nashville area. We are committed to providing the best solutions possible for your home so to improve your indoor air quality and provide peace of mind. If you are ready to address your radon issues, we are ready to serve.
Interested in learning about ways to mitigate radon without the unattractive exterior piping and fan?
Give us a call today! 615-876-5479