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Passive vs Active Radon Mitigation Systems

Family in a Radon Protected Home

If you have radon in your home, then a radon mitigation system is vital to keep your family safe. Most radon mitigation systems fall into one of two categories: passive radon mitigation and active radon mitigation systems.

Understanding the differences between these two systems is vital to understanding if you have the best radon mitigation system for your home.

What is a passive radon mitigation system?

A passive radon mitigation system uses natural pressure differentials and air currents to remove radon from your home without the use of an active element like a fan. These systems are often installed in new construction projects and your home might include one by default.

Passive systems are important to install correctly during the construction of a new home, but we do not recommend them as a stand-alone option. They should be activated. Why? There are a couple of reasons:

  • Improper Installation by an Untrained Contractor: As mentioned earlier, these types of passive systems are often quite popular with new construction. Unfortunately, this means that these systems are often installed by contractors who have no experience with radon. Since passive radon mitigation systems are reliant on natural pressure differentials the installation is quite tricky. This means that many homeowners believe they are protected by a passive system when it is doing nothing due to improper installation. Passive systems thus can lead to a false sense of security for a homeowner, since they think they already have a radon system professionally installed.
  • Very High Radon Levels: While passive systems can safely deal with low levels of radon (if installed correctly), even a professionally installed passive system will struggle with high levels. Thus, we find active radon systems to be far more reliable.
  • Inferior Performance: Passive systems just rely on far too many variables and thus display inconsistent performance. Even slight changes to the system can severely impact their performance.

Do passive radon systems offer any advantages?

Sort of. Passive radon systems are completely quiet and use no electricity. While nice, this difference is incredibly insignificant. Why? Most active radon mitigation systems use extremely quiet fans that require barely any electricity. This makes this advantage offered by passive radon systems insignificant.

However, one nice thing about passive systems is they are typically not visible, because they are installed during the construction of the home. This aesthetic advantage is why we recommend all new home construction install a passive system (often referred to as Radon Ready New Construction). After the home is done with construction, you should test your home's radon level and then activate the system.

What is an active radon mitigation system?

An active radon mitigation system is a radon mitigation system that uses an electric fan to actively push radon out of your home. Often this takes the form of a pipe running from your basement to the top of your roof.

We find this type of mitigation system to be far, far more effective in every case. The use of an active component, the vent fan, ensures that the radon is removed from your home and offers a variety of other benefits including:

  • Greater Reliability: Passive radon mitigation systems can be easily rendered ineffective with improper installation or even minor changes. An active system is far more robust and will remove radon from your home regardless of what might happen over time. That is not to say that active systems will never need maintenance or care, but if the fan is working the system should function. You are not at the mercy of air pressure.
  • No Upper Limit: Even a well installed passive system struggles when radon levels grow high. In contrast, an active system can handle any amount of radon effectively.
  • Minimal Inconvenience: While passive systems are impossible to beat with their complete lack of any noise or electricity, their advantage is miniscule. Most active radon mitigation systems use extremely quiet, low voltage fans that produce hardly any noise and use almost no energy while still being extremely effective.

Test your house

If you already have a passive radon system installed in your home (or not), it’s important to test your home. The best option to test is hiring a Certified Radon Measurement Specialist to perform a radon test using a calibrated radon monitor. Another option is performing the testing yourself with a radon test kit. Test kits can be purchased online or in a hardware store. Both are inexpensive and accurate. Everyone should know their radon level.

Find the right system with the help of your local radon professional

As you might have guessed, we recommend that you use active radon mitigation systems in most cases. However, every home is slightly different, and an experienced radon contractor can help you choose the perfect radon mitigation solution for your home’s specific needs and quirks.

As a leading national network of radon professionals, National Radon Defense can help you find your local radon experts. Contact us today and schedule your free estimate from an experienced radon contractor near you!