If you discover radon in your home, your first priority should be to eliminate it, primarily with a radon mitigation system. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains that radon is the "leading cause of cancer for nonsmokers." Once you determine the source and select an effective remediation plan, the next step is knowing how the long-term condition of your home will be impacted.
One concern you may have when making major structural changes to your home is the risk of moisture damage. Moisture can cause a host of separate issues, including mold and mildew. Fortunately, radon mitigation systems usually do not appear to raise the humidity level in a home. In fact, when installed properly, there’s evidence that certain remediation systems may actually decrease the level of humidity.
If you’re concerned about how a radon mitigation system may impact the long-term condition of your home, keep reading. You may be pleasantly surprised at all of the fringe benefits that accompany installing this type of system.
Types of Radon Remediation
What makes radon such a dangerous gas is how difficult it is to spot. It can literally be present in any home in the U.S., even if a neighboring house tested negative. To learn more about the risks of radon poisoning, check out Understanding Radon Poisoning and the Mitigation Process.
When beginning to discuss the benefits of radon remediation, it’s important to first define some of the most popular methods used. Keep in mind that not all remediation companies utilize all of the techniques mentioned below.
- Active Soil Depressurization: This technique is probably the most well-known form of remediation and may be used in the interior, exterior, or slab of a home. It involves running one or more pipes from the basement, slab, or outside of your home. A radon vent fan will then be connected to the suction pipes, which then draws the gas from below your home and releases it into the outdoor air via your pipes and then finally to the roof.
- Passive Subslab Suction: This technique is similar to active subslab suction except that it relies on natural pressure differentials and air currents, rather than a fan, to draw radon up from below your home. Passive subslab suction is often part of radon-resistant features that are installed in newly constructed homes.
- Block-Wall Suction: According to the EPA, this method is specifically geared towards "basement homes with hollow block foundation walls." The radon is removed and the walls become depressurized. More often than not, "block-wall suction is used in combination with subslab suction."
- Crawl Space Sub-Membrane Depressurization: This method uses a fan to draw air from the crawl space area and lower air pressure there to match indoor air pressure throughout the home. "A PVC pipe is connected to the radon fan and then exhausted up to the roof system."
A recent EPA report on radon remediation, “Exploratory Study of Basement Moisture During Operation of ASD Radon Control Systems,” indicated that among these popular techniques, active soil depressurization (ASD) can actually produce significant decreases in home humidity levels. The study also found that these reduced moisture levels were particularly pronounced during months with high humidity.
Where Will There Be Less Humidity?
Active soil depressurization (ASD) techniques draw air from under the lowest level of your home, which is typically just below the basement, crawlspace, or slab. For most homeowners, this is typically where you will encounter radon gas entering through contaminated soil. Particularly for homeowners with basements, the basement is one of the areas of your home most vulnerable to moisture intrusion, and this is where you will likely notice a decrease in humidity.
Benefits of Less Humidity in Your Home
Particularly when moisture levels are expected to be their highest, radon remediation is likely to pull out excess moisture, offering a number of additional fringe benefits:
- Less potential for microbial growth
- Overall drier basements that smell less
- Reduction in moisture
- Decreased need for dehumidifies
- Energy savings with running dehumidifiers less
Overall, you may be surprised to know that radon remediation systems may actually save you money over traditional dehumidifiers. The long-term saving potential is greater because these systems typically use less electricity.
In addition, radon mitigation has other home comfort benefits over dehumidification systems. They are typically quieter, more compact, and present less of an eyesore in a room.
When Can Radon Mitigation Increase Home Humidity?
Kansas State University’s National Radon Program Services notes that although radon remediation typically draws away soil air from beneath a basement floor that is high in moisture vapor, sometimes it can backfire. When not installed properly, collected moisture vapor can condense and "pool inside the ventilation pipe." If your home is located in a northern climate and the radon system is in an unheated area, that pooled moisture vapor can freeze, especially in chillier temperatures, which can damage the system, compromise radon gas removal and cause basement humidity to increase.
If you’ve discovered that radon gas has infiltrated your home, don’t worry. It’s naturally occurring throughout the U.S., and there are many highly effective ways to bring it down to safe levels. Furthermore, you can rest easy knowing the integrity of your home will most likely not be compromised by a radon remediation system.
In fact, radon mitigation systems may actually make your home more comfortable by eliminating excess moisture and reducing the humidity level. These systems can typically be installed in areas that make them very inconspicuous, such as closets. They also do not generate a lot of excess noise, so you and your family will be protected with minimal impact on your day-to-day living, but maximum protection from this cancer-causing gas.