Radon Detection

By Mark J. Donovan

August 12, 2016 3 min read

My wife and I recently decided to have our house checked for radon levels. We bought the home, new, in 1989. In the early 1990s the idea of testing a home for radon came to fruition, but we weren't too concerned about radon levels at the time. Only after years -- OK, decades -- did we finally say, "Let's have a look."

Well, as luck would have it, our radon levels were quite a bit higher than the Environmental Protection Agency's recommended level (4.0 pCi/L) -- about 10 times higher. So we recently hired a radon mitigation contractor to install an active soil depressurization radon mitigation system in our home.

The ASD system is comprised of a PVC pipe that penetrates through the basement concrete slab and into the gravel that sits below the slab. The PVC pipe then runs up to the sill plate and takes a 90-degree turn, through the sill plate and out of our home. From there the PVC pipe connects into a radon reduction fan that draws the moist radon air from underneath the basement floor up and out of the basement and house. On the other side of the radon reduction fan is another long section of PVC pipe that extends upward and over the roof eave of our house by at least a foot.

There is a gauge on the side of the PVC pipe in our basement that indicates there is a negative pressure underneath the slab due to the fact that the reduction fan is running. I can also hear the air passing through the PVC pipe when listening carefully to it.

The radon reduction fan runs continuously, and the electricity to operate it costs about $4 per month. Installation takes about four hours. An electrician may need to install a dedicated electrical circuit from the main electric circuit panel to the reduction fan motor.

The cost of the radon mitigation system itself was $1,195, and it's guaranteed to meet the EPA 4.0 pCi/L safe level. The installer gave us two test kits to conduct the radon test on the system. After placing the open test-kit canisters two feet off the basement floor and leaving them there for two days, we sealed them up and sent them to an independent lab. If for any reason the radon levels are determined to be unsafe, the installer will return to our house and either install a larger reduction fan or install one or more additional PVC pipes below the basement. Hopefully, we won't need him back.

If you have an older home and live in an area that is notorious for radon levels, you may want to conduct a radon test. Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, so it's worth spending the money to possibly prevent such an illness from occurring in you or your family down the road.

Mark J. Donovan's website is at http://www.homeadditionplus.com.

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