It's understandable for a homeowner with above-average do it yourself (DIY) experience to contemplate saving some money by tackling radon mitigation on his or her own. After all, the white plastic PVC pipe used to carry radon gas outside the house is available at any home center or building supply outlet. Plastic fittings and pipe sections can be easily welded together with pipe solvent, and the in-line fans used to pull radon gas up and away from the house can be purchased online.
So why not bypass the radon abatement contractor and do the job yourself? The main rewards are obvious: you save some money and gain the satisfaction of ridding your house of a major health hazard all on your own. But there are some fairly major disadvantages to DIY radon mitigation, so make sure to consider the following factors:
- Special tools are required. If you don't own a heavy duty hammer drill, jack hammer and hole saw, you'll have to rent these tools to do the work. This isn't just an added expense; it's also risky if you're not experienced in using this kind of heavy equipment.
- How many penetrations, and where? Effectively reducing radon levels in a basement or crawlspace depends on knowing where to penetrate the concrete slab and reach into the soil, and on knowing how many extraction points are necessary. While it's possible to make an educated guess about these factors, a radon mitigation contractor with hundreds of installations under his belt will have jobsite knowledge a DIYer can't match.
- It's risky to make holes in your house. To bring a radon system's plastic pipe outside, it's usually necessary to drill big holes through the side of the house and through the roof. If you make a mistake when drilling, you could hit an electrical wire or plumbing pipe. If you don't flash the roof penetration correctly, you'll have a leak that will cause interior damage.
- Where's your warranty? If something goes wrong with a DIY radon system, you don't have anyone to call. A reputable radon mitigation contractor will offer a standard warranty as well as a maintenance plan that ensures proper system performance over time.
- How much are you REALLY saving? When you subtract the cost of materials and renting tools, a DIY solution to a radon problem may not save much money. Remember that a radon specialist gets lower prices that you do on all the necessary materials.
If you're an avid DIYer, don't put away your tools yet. You can still have a hand in radon mitigation, even if you hire an experienced radon mitigation contractor to do the work. Talk with your contractor about options for routing the pipe to minimize fan noise and visual impact. When the job is done, you may want to paint the plastic pipe or box it in to make it less visible in your house.