By Eleanor Divver
You’ve probably heard on the news that one in three homes in Utah has elevated levels of radon, and that radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers. And, since you care about your family’s health and safety, you’ve tested your home — and your results came in above the EPA action level of 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L). What do you do now?
Learning that you have elevated radon levels in your home can be upsetting, but fixing the problem is easier and less expensive than you may think. We’ve compiled the list below to help walk you through the mitigation process.
Hire a certified mitigator.
Certified mitigators have the technical knowledge to reduce radon levels in your home safely and effectively, so it’s critical that you hire a trained contractor who is certified in radon mitigation. Not sure where to find one? Go to our radon website and click on the Certified Mitigator link. You will be directed to the NRPP/AARST website where you can search for qualified professionals in Utah.
Get three bids from the NRPP/AARST list.
If you solicit at least three bids, you will have a good idea of the general price range of mitigation services.You may want to choose a contractor located close to your house or go with the lowest price.
Weigh your options
You will usually have two options for radon mitigation: an active mitigation system inside the home or outside the house. Since every home is different, one option may work better for you than the other. The cost should be around $1500. Mitigators begin the installation by drilling a five-inch circular hole in the foundation of your house. They use four-inch PVC piping and an exhaust fan located outside your house or in an attic space to pull the radon gas from the soil underneath the foundation. The gas is then released into the air away from your home.
Get a signed contract
The mitigator should sign a contract that he or she will get the radon levels at or below 2.7 pCi/L of air. If he or she is not willing to do this, don’t use them.
Test your home after the mitigation system is installed.
The contractor will give you a radon test kit to check the radon levels in your home after the mitigation system has been running for 24 hours. Certified mitigators guarantee their work, so they will return to your home and make adjustments to your system if the levels don’t fall below the 2.7 pCi/L threshold.
You can tell if your radon mitigation system is working properly by checking the manometer installed by the contractor. The manometer measures the vacuum pressure inside the radon system, letting you know if the system is on and the fan is working. We recommend that you test your home every two years, even with a mitigation system, to make sure that the system is still functioning properly.
After installation, your ongoing costs will be relatively minimal. You’ll pay about $6 to $8 per month on your utility bill, and you will need to replace the fan after about 15 years. Not sure if you can afford a mitigation system? If you or a family member needs financial assistance and you live in Salt Lake County, Green and Healthy Homes has funding available to help qualifying families pay for the costs of mitigation.
We hope this article takes some of the mystery out of radon mitigation. And remember, to protect yourself and your family, test your home for radon today.
Haven’t tested your home yet? We have $9 test kits available for Utah residents. Testing is easy, and you’ll get your results back quickly. Always use a certified mitigator if you have elevated levels of radon in your home. Be leery of individuals who come to your home and offer to install a mitigation system for you; certified mitigators wait to hear from you. If you have further questions about radon or radon mitigation systems, please call me at 801-536-0091.
I have worked in the radon field for 15 years, most recently as the radon coordinator for the Department of Environmental Quality. I enjoy being outdoors with my family and golden retriever.