When you live in the Great Valley of south central Pennsylvania, radon is a real issue.
I have a ranch-style home and half of it is located over the "mother" of all limestone outcroppings. This means I have an earth (rock?) floor under an area about 40 by 50 feet. Radon levels are high and I am considering installing a radon mitigation system.
Recently, I covered the entire area with plastic sheeting to reduce moisture getting into the home. The results from this effort were incredible in terms of reducing excess moisture in the home this winter (I strongly recommend anyone with a crawl space that is not covered by plastic to spend the time and money to do so!). Now that the plastic is down I was hoping to build on this to install a "sub-membrane depressurization" system (Sounds impressive - doesn’t it!)
Anybody have experience with self-installation of an SMD?
Don't be too impressed because it may be completely uneeded.
What is your radon reading?
How was the testing performed?
What makes you think you need radon mitigation?
Pennsylvania has no standards requring radon mitigation at all and even Federal standards are but mere 'recommendations'.
The health effects of radon gas are just guesses and estimates.
Even in high areas of radon concentration, faulty measruing techniques often lead people to invest uneccesarily in mitigation systems.
In most instances, all that is required for mitigation is a layer of 4" of concrete over crawlspace or basement floor and passive foundation vents.
And in most, cases, proper retesting indicates no radon issues at all.
So what makes you think you have a radon problem?
While I agree problems from radon exposure are a bit ambiguous, there are reasons to abate radon in a home. Resale is one reason, insurance can be another, and peace of mind is the third.
You have actually done the second step in passive abatement already. If you were to bury an H pattern of perforated 3" or 4" PVC pipe and hook that to a stand pipe that terminates above the roof line, then replace the plastic and seal any place where the plastic touches pipes or concrete, you will have made the minimum passive system.
If the area is rock to the point burying a pipe is not feasible, lay the pipe on the rock and secure it. Then add the stand pipe and seal the plastic.
Actually, adding vents and a small fan on one side of the crawl space can also pervent radon from entering a home.
Radon is a heavier than air gas and is actually not the bad part of the situation. Radon is a radioactives gas and begins to decay. The compounds created after the decay cycle starts are the problem if they get into a persons lungs. Most doctors/scientists think many years of exposure are necessary to see any negative effects from radon exposure.
DIY Radon Mitigation
DIY radon mitigation is possible for a well rounded handyman. But after you purchase materials, possibly rent tools and 2 days of hard work you may have wished that you had paid a radon mitigator.
Also to consider are the possible dangers involved with doing own work. I had one customer who after installing his own system couldn't figure why his reading went up. He started with 15pCi/L and post mitigation results were 41pCi/L. Now that's dangerous! Also the possibility of creating a back drafting situation of your furnace and water heater is another real concern (CO poisoning).
If you really want to DIY a radon system do the math first and learn how to do it right. Did I scare you away, well if not please talk to me first.
I lived in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. years ago during their radon scare. The original home that started the nationwide radon scare was located in Pa. There are many radon myths, and the belief that a certain type of house will have no problem is one of them. No type of construction makes a house immune to radon. True, if a house is built over a well-ventilated crawl space, the radon level at that house would probably be lower than if the house were built on a cracked foundation slab. But radon levels aren't uniform throughout this area, or even on a given block. Levels can be very high at a crawl space house, and very low at a slab house. Let us all face it - radon is a lose-lose situation for all homeowners. Radon is like the second hand smoke theory and even the totally chemically induced perfume fume theory - it is everywhere - a person has no other choice but to roll the dice and live and eventually die with all the toxins on this earth. We are only visitors. Any other options would be greatly appreciated.
Your description of radon gas variability is very well explained. I have seen cases where a home has a reading of 30pCi/L and the neighbors are all below 4pCi/L, and all with similar construction. The vast majority of homes that I'm fixing are brand new with poured basement walls and floors, so construction makes little difference.
But one thing that does make a difference is to build "radon resistant new construction" into our new homes. With a little coordination among the trades a RRNC passive system is easily installed for less than $1000.00. With a passive system you can expect about a 30% reduction in levels. And if the home still tests above acceptable levels it's a slam dunk to fix, just add a fan.
Yes life is short and we all face an uncertain exit, but lung cancer is not the way I want to check out.
So, let me get this right - If we are building a new home, which is not the case here, we can expect a 30% reduction within some hypothetical equation that will net you Radon guys $1,000.00 and if it does not work - You give me a free fan. Radon readings are never an absolute. There are to many variables. I hope you have alot of fans - but than again, we are giving you a $1,000.00 a pop. Are your fans made in China -- I hear they have Radon also. Does the $1,000.00 also have a guarantee that the homeowner will not die from lung cancer? I would rather invest my money in the water dowsing trade.
I'm talking about building a simple inexpensive safety valve for a new home. Hey what's a 1k when added to the price of the home today...not much in my book. And I'm not talking about radon professionals profiting from this at all what I said was talk to your General Contractor and he might even throw it in. A great number of my customers who by the time they call me have become very well informed about radon, ask me "why didn't my builder tell me about radon?" At this point it's not about $1000, it's all about why did I have to needlessly subject my family to radon gas for a period of time.
Yesterday a family 4 of had their home fixed after living there for 11 years with a level averaging about 15pCi/L, which by the way has risk factor comparable to smoking 1 pack cigarettes per day!
Concerning radon testing...Test results do vary from day to day that's why long term tests are used judge levels. So if a person thinks that the level is marginal all the health departments in my area recommend LT testing.
The state of Minnesota has just put RRNC techniques into their building codes and many other states are in the process .
"Consider the danger of radon gas.
If there is one environmental problem that is real, it is radon...there
is no hysteria over radon...because it's natural..."
Rush Limbaugh, 1992
"Radon is natural. Radon is not a by-product of industrial or consumer activities. Because there is no one to “blame,” it has been difficult to inflame the passions of the public. Even outdoor air has some amount
of radon in it."
Have a Good Day
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