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Tuesday, December 14th by Tim Snyder
The first concern for homeowners who learn that their house has high levels of radon is simple: "How soon can we get a radon mitigation system installed to make the house safer?" The good news here is the goal of lowering radon exposure to EPA-recommended levels can usually be achieved with a high degree of certainty. Most communities have access to a number of radon mitigation experts who have been trained to utilize well-established radon reduction techniques.
In Image: Valuable options. The exhaust stack for this radon system extends through the soffit rather than running around the eave. The fan motor is protected and concealed behind a cover. Once paint is applied to match the siding color, this system will blend in well with the rest of the house.
So what's the second concern when having a radon abatement system installed? Many homeowners who have had systems installed will tell you that the appearance of the finished system is very important. Inside and outside the house, the large plastic pipe that carries radon gas away from the house can be an eyesore if the contractor and homeowner aren't attentive to aesthetic considerations.
Attention to appearance-related details is frequently the factor that separates a low-priced bid for an abatement system from a higher-priced bid. Saving a few hundred dollars isn't worth it if your radon system sticks out like a sore thumb and detracts from your home's curb appeal. Here are a few aesthetic considerations to discuss with the contractor before you decide to have a radon abatement system installed.
Plan ahead in the basement. If part of the basement has been finished or will be in the future, the contractor can try to route pipe runs in unfinished areas. This may add to the system cost because more labor and materials will be required, but many homeowners prefer to spend a little more so that large plastic pipe won't be visible in a finished room.
Exterior pipe runs can be camouflaged. The standard installation strategy is to run the radon system's vertical exhaust stack outside the house, secured to the exterior siding. Locating the exhaust stack against a back wall or behind a bush that's close to the house will make it less noticeable than installing the stack on the front of the house. A skilled radon gas contractor can run the stack through the exterior soffit rather than around it, another option that enhances appearance. The stack should also be painted to match the color of the siding. For an outside installation, it's worth asking about a cover that will conceal the fan shroud and base of the stack. National Radon Defense contractors offer all of these aesthetic options.
Interior-routed systems usually cost more. To minimize the visual impact of a radon system, the exhaust stack can run inside the house, providing that the contractor can keep the pipe run concealed in closets, duct chases, or in other unobtrusive areas. The fan motor is typically located in the attic, and the only visible evidence of a radon system outside the house will be the short pipe stack that extends through the roof. Keeping the vent stack inside the house is usually more expensive than outside installations.
Bottom line: Extra care is worth extra investment. Once your radon system is installed, you'll have to live with it for as long as you own the house. A contractor who takes the time and trouble to make the installation attractive and unobtrusive will probably charge more, but the result will be a feature that increases, rather than decreases the value of your home.