Radon is an inert, colorless, tasteless radioactive gas that comes from the radioactive decay of uranium found naturally in soil. The sole concern about radon is that it can cause lung cancer and is in fact, second only to cigarette smoking in bringing about this disease.
The EPA estimates that nearly 14,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. as a result of radon contamination. DIY radon mitigation is becoming increasingly common as more people learn about the presence of radon in homes.
How can I test my home for radon?
Do it yourself test kits that you place and retrieve without employing a professional are available in home centers and hardware stores for around $30. They measure the concentration of radon on the premises and can provide a reliable indication as to whether radon mitigation is necessary. This price includes the analysis of the results.
Or, you can hire a professional for around $125 but save yourself the extra cash and do it yourself. If you see the results and you’re concerned there could be a mistake, then consider calling someone in to run the tests again.
There are two types of DIY radon mitigation tests: short-term, placed for less than ninety days (usually around a week), and long-term, left in place for longer than ninety days. The equipment should be placed in the lowest livable area in the home, most likely the basement if one exists. Test separately any rooms that are positioned over a crawl space.
The lab you send your samples to will provide the results in 2-3 weeks. You will be advised as to whether the levels are safe or you need to reduce them. Then, if you are compelled to take action, you can again hire a professional mitigator or you can engage in DIY radon mitigation which will save some money, and which is fairly simple to do.
Cost comparisons – DIY versus pro’s
DIY radon mitigation involves the installation of a piping system and a fan. Known as a sub-slab depressurization system, it is fairly simple to install and doesn’t entail any structural alterations to the building.
Doing it yourself is far more economical. You might spend a couple hundred dollars doing it yourself whereas a professional operator can charge between $1,700 and $2,500. Always ask to see proof of certification before handing over your hard-earned money. You’ll want to know the job will be done effectively.
After the fact
Once you’ve carried out your radon mitigation, you should always test again to see if the levels of radon have been reduced. In any case, repeat the process every two to three years to be sure. Thus, knowing how to do it yourself will save you lots of money in the future. It can be a very expensive proposition to hire a contractor every three years so if you have the skills and the know-how, DIY radon mitigation is by far the preferred option.
When you read up on DIY radon mitigation, or learn more about it from the relevant authorities, you’ll find that you’ll need to know how to effectively install PVC piping and you should be a certified electrician to rig up the electrical fan. At the very least, hire an electrician to do that part.
Don’t be lulled into thinking that you can simply use caulking to seal off any cracks in your slab. You’ll still need a sub-slab pressurization system to counteract the negative pressure present in the house, and besides, caulking can emit toxicity into the air.
Prevention instead of cure
When building a new home, radon resistant construction techniques can be employed to depressurize the slab in advance so that the house begins with safe levels of radon and remains that way. Talk to your builder before construction starts.