Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US. For non-smokers, it’s the leading cause of lung cancer. That’s why the EPA and the Surgeon General both recommend testing for the presence of radon gas and mitigation when high levels of radon are detected.
The EPA recommends radon mitigation if radon levels are shown to be at or above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). Radon levels less than 4 pCi/L can still pose a risk and mitigation can reduce the levels.
You can hire someone to do a radon test or do it yourself. However, if you’re thinking about doing radon mitigation yourself — DIY mitigation — it’s a bad idea. There are many variables involved. If you have not been properly trained and certified, it can be easy to misstep and make the situation worse.
What is DIY Mitigation for Radon?
Radon mitigation is serious. There are many techniques to properly mitigate and it is critical to identify the right technique. Additionally, mitigation professionals have special equipment that identifies exactly where the radon is seeping in, which will inform the mitigator on what is the best course of action.
In many circumstances, DIY mitigation requires you to drill through your home’s foundation and your roof. You will also need to install equipment to actively draw radon gas into pipes to carry the deadly gas up to your roof where it can be vented. That means you’re actually bringing more radon gas into your home before dispersing it.
If you don’t seal the pipes properly at either the foundation or roof level, you run the risk that radon can seep out and lead to higher levels. You will also need to make sure the roof is properly sealed to avoid leaks or moisture problems.
DIY mitigation will also require the installation of a fan to create suction in the pipes. This draws the radon gas from below the surface under the house, up through the pipe, and sends it out and away from your home. Depending on your situation, the fan may be located in the attic or at the top of the system. It must also be insulated properly to avoid moisture and mold accumulation.
If you are doing DIY mitigation, you will need to install a pressure gauge that lets you know the speed of the fan and a way to monitor the system to ensure the system is operational.
If this sounds like a lot of work and a lot of places things can go wrong, you are correct. That is why DIY mitigation for radon is not recommended.
Here are some of the things that can also impact how radon mitigation is done:
Your Home’s Foundation
Do you know what is underneath your home’s foundation? It’s important.
Preferably, your foundation was built on top of a porous surface, such as gravel, which will make it easier to draw the radon gas out. Older foundations were often built on top of a rock, dense sand, wet earth, or solid ground. These surfaces are less porous and will require more effort to draw the radon gas in and can impact the type of fan and system you choose for mitigation.
Have there been any additions to your home? If there have been sections added or you do not have a continuous slab, you may need to add multiple systems to effectively mitigate the radon.
Your Home’s Structure
In most situations, a 3 to 4-inch diameter pipe is required and drilling holes through the floor and ceiling in each level of your home is necessary. Where you put the pipes is also an important consideration. You may or may not be able to place them in a straight line from the foundation to the roof without going through living spaces, which would detract from your home’s appearance.
Likely, you will need to have joints and bends, which are additional places where you can incur leakage if the job’s not done properly. Not to mention, too many joints and bends can reduce the suction of the fan. You don’t want the pipes on the outside of your home either. Besides the cosmetic appearance, it also makes the pipes susceptible to weather which can lead to cracks or condensation.
Pipe placement on the roof is also crucial. You want to make sure where you disperse the radon gas away from your home is not close to any windows. Depending on your local building codes, you may need to use different hoods on piping.
Your Home’s Attic or Roof
A fan is installed to provide the suction within the pipes to draw the radon gas from beneath your home and bring it to the roof where it can be dispersed. The fan should not be placed near living areas to avoid any noise from its operation and to protect you from a potential leak that could spread the radioactive gas inside your home.
Monitoring and warning systems must be near the fan to make sure it’s working properly. If it fails, it will be possible to accumulate radon gas inside the pipes in your home without venting it to the outside properly. Some states require proper identification on the system that includes which company installed the system and when it was installed. By doing it yourself, you may not meet certain requirements if you plan on selling the home in the future.
Why Is It Important to Mitigate Radon?
Radon is a radioactive gas that causes cancer.
If you or a family member is a smoker, and you have high radon levels, the risk of developing lung cancer is high. Even non-smokers can get lung cancer from radon.
Radon occurs naturally as uranium in soil, rock, or water breaks down. Since the air pressure in the inside of your home is typically lower than the pressure under your home’s foundation, your home can create a vacuum effect that draws radon into your home through cracks in the foundation or other openings.
Mitigating radon takes the science and uses proper protocols to fixing cracks, securing crawl spaces, and plugging any openings that may allow radon to seep into your home as well as installation of pipes and venting to redistribute radon outdoors and away from your home. There can be many variables that take different solutions. Different methods and equipment will be used depending on the severity of the radon problem and the best strategy for mitigation.
Why DIY Mitigation Is Not Recommended
Doing DIY mitigation yourself is not recommended. Here’s what the EPA has to say about it:
“The EPA recommends that you have a qualified radon mitigation contractor fix your home because lowering high radon levels requires specific technical knowledge and special skills. Without the proper equipment or technical knowledge, you could actually increase your radon level or create other potential hazards and additional costs.” - Environmental Protection Agency
DIY mitigation may sound like a good idea, but if not done correctly, you could be exacerbating the problem. For this reason, most states require radon professionals to be licensed, certified, or registered. In fact, many states already have regulations in place or are starting to increase radon certification enforcement. Using radon services that are not trained or registered, or attempting DIY mitigation, is a bad idea. You may think the problem is solved when it could actually have been made worse.
How Much Does Radon Mitigation Cost?
Radon reduction systems work — if properly installed. Experts may potentially reduce the radon levels in your home by significant amounts. In some cases, radon levels can be reduced by up to 99%.
The cost of radon mitigation is similar to the costs of other common home repairs. Costs will vary depending on your home’s size, the design, your location, and the type of radon reduction method that is needed.
You may see a slight increase in your home’s utility bill for operation.
Radon Testing and Mitigation
Radon testing is the only way to know if potentially harmful radon gas is present in your home. Radonova’s short-term and long-term test kits are inexpensive, highly accurate, and will tell you if you need to take further action to reduce radon levels.
If you do find radon, DIY mitigation is not recommended. The risks are simply too high. It takes an experienced, trained, and certified radon mitigation professional to do the job right and give you the peace of mind you need.
Start with a test to determine if you have a problem. If you do, choose a qualified radon mitigation contractor to fix your home.
How to Find a Qualified Radon Mitigation Contractor
Most states have a radon office that keeps a list of certified radon mitigation specialists, so that’s the best place to start your search for a radon mitigation contractor.
The EPA recommends you hire a professional radon contractor that meets these stringent requirements and include these items as part of any proposal or estimate:
- Proof of state certification, professional proficiency, or other acceptable certification
- Proof of liability insurance and bonded
- Proof of state and/or local licensing (if required)
- Radon testing before designing and installing a radon-reduction system
- Installation of a warning device to alert you if the system isn’t working properly or has failed
- Testing after installation to verify the system is working and that radon gas has been reduced to acceptable levels
Contractors should also put in writing a guarantee to reduce the radon level to 4 pCi/L or below. DIY mitigation won’t be able to guarantee the work.
Even if you are able to save a few dollars with DIY radon mitigation, it is definitely not worth the risk.
- DIY radon mitigation a bad idea? (2019, July 29). Retrieved April 13, 2021, from https://certifiedradonkc.com/diy-radon-mitigation/
- DIY radon mitigation. (2021, January 08). Retrieved April 13, 2021, from https://nonprofithomeinspections.org/diy-radon-mitigation/
- Https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-12/documents/2016_consumers_guide_to_radon_reduction.pdf. (n.d.). [Brochure]. EPA.
- [Brochure]. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-05/documents/hmbuygud.pdf
- Publications about RADON. (2020, July 29). Retrieved April 13, 2021, from https://www.epa.gov/radon/publications-about-radon
- Find information about local radon zones and state contact information. (2021, January 14). Retrieved April 13, 2021, from https://www.epa.gov/radon/find-information-about-local-radon-zones-and-state-contact-information
Short Term Radon Test Kit
10-90 Radon Test Kit
The Rapidos is a short-term radon test that will monitor between 10 to 90 days. This extremely accurate test will take into account all of the daily fluctuations in radon and provide an average concentration.
Long Term Radon Test Kit
90-365 Radon Test Kit
The Radtrak³ is a long-term test that will monitor between 90 days and 1 full year. This extremely accurate test will take into account all of the daily fluctuations in radon levels.