What is Radon Mitigation?

A colorless, odorless, tasteless toxin lurking in your home has the makings of a real-life horror movie. The offending carcinogen, radon gas, permeates your home as uranium, thorium, and other radioactive elements decay in the ground. Levels of radon gas outside aren’t dangerous, but inside, radon gas gets trapped and concentrated within the walls of your home, putting you and your family at risk.

“Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer for the general population,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. “If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.

Since you can’t see, smell, or taste radon, you’ll need to test the air in your home. According to the American Lung Association, you should test your home’s air quality at least twice since radon levels can change. If the tests read high levels for the gas — more than 2 picocuries per liter (4pCi/l) — you’ll need to lower those levels with a mitigation system.

Seek professional help

A qualified radon mitigation company can properly assess the situation in your home and determine the best course for lowering the levels of radon in your home. If you are unsure who to trust with such a serious matter, contact your state’s radon office. According to the American Lung Association, they should have a list of professionals licensed to do this work in your area. Testing and lowering radon levels is complicated and requires special skills and equipment. Even if you can DIY a test or fix a crack in your foundation, you might be doing more harm than good.

“Without the proper equipment or technical knowledge, you could actually increase your radon level or create other potential hazards and additional costs,” warns the EPA.

Although high levels of radon are a serious situation, do your diligence when choosing a company. You’ll want at least two estimates to compare as well as a list of references you can contact to review the work of each company you’re considering, says the EPA.

How a radon mitigation system works

A radon mitigation system features two components: vent pipe(s) and fans. It also requires that cracks be fixed and sealed to further prevent radon gas from seeping into your home.

“Most radon mitigation systems are made of series of pipes and fans that that remove radon vapors from under your foundation and exhaust them above the roof where it’s safe. This type of system is also referred to as an active soil depressurization system because it reduces the pressure under the house so radon gas is no longer being pushed in through openings in the foundation,” according to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, or EGLE.

DIY methods to reduce radon levels

Radon can make its way into your home via several entry points, such as cracks in the foundation, walls, or floors, through the sump pump opening, or gaps around plumbing. Wiring or ductwork can also be conduits for the gas, according to EGLE. Finding, caulking, and sealing these areas of concerns can help reduce how much radon infiltrates your home. However, the EGLE warns this should just be a supplement to the work performed by a professional mitigation contractor for guaranteed results of your home’s safety.

Once you have addressed the radon issue in your home, consider installing radon detectors, so you can monitor the presence of the dangerous gas.

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