How to determine if your radon abatement is not working

Whether you moved into a home with radon mitigation or you installed it because tests showed that the levels were above safe levels, one of the most common questions is how to know if the system is continually working.  This is important because no one wants to pay all that money and end up with lung cancer, because it did not do what it was supposed to.


Radon is a gas that is produced from the breakdown of naturally occurring uranium. Exposure to high levels is the second leading cause of lung cancer and results in over 20,000 deaths a year. Therefore, many people go to great lengths to keep themselves and their family safe from this danger.

The best way to know if your system is working correctly is to do a test to find out what the radon levels are in your home. Regardless of whether or not you have a radon remediation system or not, you should test the levels in your home every two years. Radon test kits are both cheap and easy to use. You can get them at your local home improvement center. If you are not comfortable doing the test on your own, you can hire certified radon measurement professionals to do it for you. However, this may be more costly.

Another option is to purchase an electronic radon monitor. They give ongoing readings and some have built-in alarms to let you know if radon levels have increased to unsafe levels. Called a manometer, they can have a light or audible alarm, as well as instructions to assist you in understanding how to interpret whether or not the system is on and running. However, monitors are not available for passive radon abatement systems because there is no vent fan. Therefore, you may have to either purchase a long-term test or test every three months.

If testing shows that the levels are high, even with a system installed, you, or a professional, should make sure that the exhaust has been placed correctly. It should be at least ten feet above the ground and two feet higher than any window, door or other open space that is less than ten feet away from it. It should also be placed far away from any mechanical intake like an evaporative cooler in order to ensure that the radon does not reenter the home.

Finally, be sure that you have the right system installed for your home. The type of foundation that your house has is the determining factor on what should be installed. In addition, if additions have been made to the home, then more than one system may be needed. Test in different areas of the house or call a professional for assistance.

If your levels are high, you may need to contact a professional to come out and determine what the issue is and make the system work correctly. No matter what you, do not rely on the original radon test result or what someone told you it was. Also, do not just assume that the system is working, it could be a deadly mistake.


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