How do I know the radon mitigation system is working?
I get that question all the time.
Some houses have a radon mitigation system installed, which consists basically of a pipe stuck through the basement floor, connected to a vent fan which runs all the time, and a tube to blow the air outdoors.
It's pretty simple. The fan is literally drawing air from under the house. If the air is laden with radon gas the fan will help get it removed and blown out of the house.
Radon is a very fragile, negative ion. It only lasts about 3 1/2 days, and is easily dissipated by opening doors or windows. But it can accumulate. Too much build up, it is thought, is not good, and something that some people might want to eliminate from the house.
If a house tests high for radon a vent system is installed. I'm told the fan draws about as much electricity as a light bulb, so it is not a huge energy user.
On the side of the vent tubing, usually PVC, a U-shaped test tube is placed, with a small plastic tube which extends inside the vent tube.
Once that hole is sealed pressure is created. The test tube is partially filled with water, tinted blue or red, and that tube will show if there is pressure.
The water in this test tube is level, and therefore there is no pressure in the tube. That would indicate that the fan is not working or there is no suction.
In this case I could put my ear on the tube and hear that the fan was operating. So there was a different problem, which would have to be evaluated.
Each such mitigation system has a sticker which indicates who installed the system and their phone number.
Conversely, the water in the tube in the photo to the right would say that the fan is operating and there is pressure.
So the system would indeed be drawing radon gas from the house.
That would answer the question, if asked!
When walking around the outside of a house I can always see if there is a system installed.
Then, upon entering the house, I will take the time to find it and show it to my client.
From there it's a quick discussion on radon gas, and how to get additional information if needed.
If radon is an issue to the buyer that little lesson usually calms any nerves.
My recommendation: radon may or may not be prevalent in your area. If it is a radon test is a simple thing. It most often takes 2 days, and the results are sent after the test is completed. Keep in mind that radon amounts can vary, but at least a test will give an idea of its ability to get into and reside inside a house. And decisions can be made.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560