Medical professionals alike agree that radon gas is a dangerous chemical. Because it is an odorless, colorless gas, it is often left untreated and leads to thousands of preventable lung cancer deaths each year.
If the radon mitigation system that was installed in your home failed or stopped working properly, it can have several big consequences:
- The gas level readings for this dangerous chemical will rise or remain at a heightened level.
- Your health risks due to radon gas exposure will return.
- You will be unable to sell your home in its current condition.
- You will be forced to address the issue as quickly as possible.
You need to know your remediation steps and system repair options when radon mitigation doesn’t work. This includes retesting your home, checking your contractor’s work, having your contractor come back for repairs, and even hiring a new contractor in special cases.
If you’ve found yourself with elevated radon gas readings even after having it remediated, keep reading. There are several important steps you need to take to address elevated levels of radon gas in your home.
Test Your Home’s Radon Levels Again
You may want to start by testing your home’s radon levels again to confirm that the testing system you purchased was set up and used properly. Remember, this is a dangerous health hazard, so you want to perform this testing as soon as possible.
The EPA notes that there are two types of tests, long-term and short term. Although long-term testing will provide more accurate seasonal averages of radon gas, your main concern at this point is to confirm its presence at all. A short-term test, which can take as little as two days in this case, would be a wise idea. If result confirmation is needed, a second short-term test can be used.
If your home’s radon level is still measured at 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher, the EPA advises that you must address this problem. However, the EPA notes that radon gas levels below the 4 pCi/L threshold can still pose a health risk and should be reduced. This is particularly true if you’ve already hired a contractor to perform mitigation.
Check Your Contractor’s Work
If the radon levels remain high after repeated testing, you should take time to check the work performed by your contractor. The EPA notes that there is a list of important radon removal standards that contractors must meet when installing reduction systems.
- Ensure that the radon reduction system was clearly labeled so it cannot accidentally be disrupted.
- Get a complete demonstration of how your radon reduction system operates, including instructions on how to maintain it.
- Make sure you get complete operating and maintenance instructions for your radon system, and copies of any warranties.
- Make sure that the soil suction system’s exhaust pipes vent above the roof and at least 10 feet above the ground. Exhaust pipes should also be 10 feet or more away from windows, doors and any other openings where radon may reenter the home.
- Make sure the exhaust fan is not located in or below a livable area
- Make sure the contractor installed a fan meeting local building codes for exterior use if an outside exhaust fan was used.
- Check to make sure electrical connections “of all active radon reduction systems” were installed according to local electrical codes.
- Ensure a warning device was installed to alert you if the system stops working for any reason. This device should have been placed where it will be easy to see and hear if it is triggered.
- Ensure that your contractor checked to see if the warning device works properly.
- Make sure that your contractor performs a “post-mitigation radon test” 24 to 30 days after the system is installed.
The EPA explains that you should also get a follow-up radon measurement from an independent company, not the one that did the original installation. Doing so will help eliminate the potential for a conflict of interest to develop that causes the results to be skewed. According to the EPA, you can also gauge the system's effectiveness with a two-to-seven-day measurement.
There are many types of radon mitigation systems that can be used, including techniques for the interior, exterior, slab and crawl space of your home. Understanding the different mitigation types, where they’re used and how they work will help you better evaluate your system and your contractor’s work.
Contact the Radon Mitigation Company You Used
If your radon mitigation system failed any of the inspections you performed, it’s important that you contact the radon mitigation company you used. If they’re a reputable company, they should guarantee their work for the period of time specified in your contract. As long as you’re within the window, you should hold the company to their promise and ensure that they come back to solve the issue. The EPA notes that contracts with some companies may even include a promise to reduce radon levels to a certain level before work ever begins.
The company you hired should begin by testing and then troubleshooting your system to find out exactly why it’s not properly working. There are many reasons why a radon mitigation system may not be working properly, so it’s important that the company spends enough time pinpointing the exact issue.
Should You Hire Another Radon Mitigation Company?
Based on evidence by the EPA, radon mitigation systems work well. In some cases, they’re 99% effective. When you’ve had radon removal performed in your home and you’re still seeing elevated levels, that’s a sign that you may have hired the wrong team to perform the work. If the first radon mitigation company you hired cannot fix the issue, you need to reach out to another company to come in and provide a solution. Sometimes inexperienced professionals can make fundamental mistakes that prevent the removal of this gas:
- They didn’t identify the true source of radon.
- They chose the wrong remediation method.
- They improperly installed your remediation system.
Any and all of these oversights can lead to a persistence of high radon gas levels in your home. If you’ve realized the company you originally hired doesn’t have the experience to address your issue, don’t delay in hiring a new company to solve the problem.
What Can You Not Do if Radon Mitigation Failed?
You cannot ignore the problem. The CDC notes that radon gas exposure leads to a significantly higher cancer risk, particularly for smokers and former smokers, those who spend lots of time at home and individuals who spend a lot of time where the radon levels are highest. Even burning coal or wood to heat your home can cause indoor air pollution that contributes to the health risks of radon gas. Delaying or ignoring radon removal unnecessarily increases your chances of developing this cancer.
You also cannot sell your home with elevated radon gas levels. Prospective buyers of your home will perform a full home inspection, including testing for radon gas. When they detect this gas, you will likely be forced to address it before the sale would ever be complete.
A radon mitigation system that has stopped venting this dangerous gas from your home demands quick action to get it working again. Even though it may be a frightening situation for you as a homeowner, you can rest easy knowing that this is a problem that can be quickly resolved with the right steps and professional service.
A radon mitigation system in your home will also not automatically qualify it as a dangerous property, hurt its value or prevent it from ever being sold. Homes that once tested positive for elevated radon gas levels may be sold without issue, as long as a properly installed mitigation system is in place. In fact, effective radon mitigation may actually be considered a selling point that helps a home sale.
The EPA explains that almost one out of every 15 homes in the U.S. has excessive levels of this dangerous gas. This naturally occurring radioactive material is found in every state and climate, and there’s simply no way to predict if your home will have it, even based on your neighbors’ test results. As long as you have the appropriate mitigation system and it’s working properly, your health and property value should remain unaffected.