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Tuesday, May 3rd by Tim Snyder
You've received some bad news, and for once, the words,it depends, aren't actually all that bad.
Your house, or a house you're thinking of buying, has dangerous concentrations of radioactive radon gas. It could be worse, this could be inoperable news. However, there are proven and reliable ways to reduce radon gas to the minimal exposure levels established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA recommends that radon gas concentration be kept at or below 4 picocuries per liter (4 pCi/L).
If test results indicate that a radon abatement system (aka radon reduction or radon mitigation system) is required, most homeowners will want to treat this home repair like any other and get bids from several qualified contractors. But since all radon mitigation specialists will guarantee radon reduction to recommended levels, how can you make sure you're getting the best value from a given contractor?
Is This The Best Value?
Good question. In order to select the right contractor, you may have to do some research about the work you're having done, this way you'll be able to follow what is happening and decide your dollar's worth. While the adage that "you get what you pay for" often applies in the field of radon abatement, it's worth knowing a bit more about the qualifications, skills and priorities of the contractors you're considering. Use the following information about systems and requirements when making your decision.
Each System is Unique
It's logical to expect that as the size of the house increases, the size and price of the radon abatement system will also increase. But this isn't always the case. The design and condition of the foundation as well as the permeability of the soil beneath the house will factor in the complexity and cost of the system. Radon mitigation typically involves extracting radon-rich air from beneath a foundation and exhausting it outdoors where it can disperse harmlessly into the atmosphere. If there's permeable gravel or sand/gravel soil beneath the basement slab, fewer extraction points will be necessary than if the soil is dense clay.
The runs of plastic pipe that convey air from beneath the house to the outdoors are much easier to install in an unfinished basement. If the basement is finished or if homeowners plan to finish it, it will be necessary for the contractor to design a more complicated piping run so that the radon system won't be visible. This can add to the cost, but it is often a worthwhile expense given the final benefits: a fully functional radon system that doesn't intrude on the home's living space.
The Crawl Space Foundation
Narrow, cramped crawl space foundations can sometimes increase the cost of a radon system. Sometimes this is because of limited accessibility. Other times, it's because a plastic vapor barrier must be installed over a dirt crawl space and sealed to the foundation wall so that radon-rich gas from the soil can be captured and exhausted outside the house.
A final factor in radon abatement cost has to do with the systemâ€™s visibility above and/or outside the house foundation. The riser pipe that extends from beneath the house to an exhaust point outside the house can either be mounted against an exterior wall or hidden inside the house.
Some homeowners prefer a concealed interior installation because of aesthetic considerations, but this makes for a pricier installation. The expert would need to run the pipe through the back of a closet, inside an interior wall or in a vertical chase. Then the pipe will be concealed and can then extend through the roof as its fan shroud is placed in the attic. In an exterior pipe installation, the fan is incorporated into the exterior pipe run.
Finalizing the Price
All of these choices and conditions factor in the final cost of a radon mitigation system. An experienced radon abatement contractor will have the skill and equipment to handle a wide range of different system requirements. And this well-versed contractor will be much more hesitant to provide "one-size-fits-all" price because of a diverse installation experience. When investigating the cost of a radon abatement system, remember that "It depends" isn't a bad answer.