Radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General, along with the American Cancer Society and the EPA recommend testing for radon in your home, regardless of where you live as it has been found throughout the country. If the radon level in your home is confirmed to be 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher, you should look into the different radon reduction systems that are available. This is especially true if you or one of your family members smoke and your home has high radon levels as that makes your risk of lung cancer especially high.
There are a variety of different ways to go about radon remediation. The type of house you have will affect the kind of radon reduction system that will work best and that is based on the foundation the home is built on.
If you have a basement or a slab-on-grade foundation, then radon abatement is done by one of four types of soil suction. They are; sub-slab suction, drain tile suction, sump hole suction, and block wall suction. Subslab suction or depressurization is the most common and the most reliable method.
An effective method to reduce radon levels in homes with crawlspace is known as submembrane suction. It is comprised of covering the earth floor with a high-density plastic sheet and then using a vent pipe and fan to draw the radon from under the sheet and vent it to the outdoors.
In some cases, radon levels can be lowered by ventilating the crawlspace either with or without a fan. Crawlspace ventilation lowers indoor radon levels by reducing the home’s suction on the soil and by diluting the radon beneath the house. Passive ventilation, or without fans, is done by opening vents, and/or installing additional vents. Active ventilation uses a fan to blow air through the crawlspace. In colder climates, water pipes, sewer lines and appliances in the crawlspace need to be insulated against the cold and these options could result in increased energy costs for the house.
An additional method includes sealing cracks and other openings in the foundation. This is a basic part of radon reduction. However, the EPA does not recommend the use of sealing alone to reduce radon because it has not been shown to lower radon levels significantly or consistently and it is difficult to identify and permanently seal the places where radon is entering. In addition, normal settling of your house opens new entry routes and reopens old ones.
House/room pressurization uses a fan to blow air into the basement or living area from either upstairs or outdoors. It attempts to create enough pressure at the lowest level indoors in an attempt to prevent radon from entering the house. The effectiveness is limited by house construction, climate, other appliances in the house, and occupant lifestyle. In order to maintain enough pressure to keep radon out, the doors and windows at the lowest level must not be left opened, except for normal entry and exit.
A heat recovery ventilator is installed to increase ventilation and help reduce the radon levels in your home. They introduce outdoor air while using the heated or cooled air being exhausted to warm or cool the incoming air and are most effective when used to ventilate only the basement.