Active Radon Mitigation Monitor - What's Wrong With This Picture?

By
Home Inspector with HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC
https://activerain.com/droplet/4wSK

January is National Radon Action Month.  Radon mitigation systems can be either passive or active.  Both systems provide a path of least resistance outside of the home or building.  The difference is that passive systems provide a passive path only and active systems include a blower that works continuously to pull air (and radon) from under the building and exhaust it at the roof line.  Active systems also should have a monitor to verify proper operation.  Look at the picture below.  What's wrong?

HINT:  Pulling air from beneath the building will create a pressure differential that can be monitored. 

Radon Mitigation Monitor at Zero

ANSWER:  As it shoud be (monitored).  If the monitor shows zero differential, as this monitor above does, then there is no flow through the mitigation pipe.  Without adequate flow through the mitigation pipe, radon gas may vent inside the building.  As stated earlier, radon gas follows a path of least resistance out of the ground and either into the atmosphere or inside a building.  An active system will create a flow of air from beneath the building and carry that flow outside of the building and deposit the air flow usually at the roof line.  This air flow is a path of least resistance that the radon gas will also follow. 

If the blower fails, or the circuit breaker for the system trips, or a plug is kicked out of the socket, the inline blower will be turned OFF and the system monitor will show zero differential, as it does in the picture above.  Zero differential means the blower is OFF and air is not being drawn from below the building and the air and radon from below the building may then follow the path of least resistance into the building.  That's bad.  The EPA signs off approximately 20,000 deaths per year to lung cancer caused by excessive radon gas concentration inside buildings.  If you have an active radon mitigation system in your home or building, the inline monitor should look like the one below.  If it looks like the monitor in the picture above, with both columns at zero, follow the directions in bold print and call the installer for service. 

Active Radon Monitor

Thank you,

Richard Acree

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Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC, and contributing members of the Active Rain Real Estate network, and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings.  HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill and more!  In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis.  Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753. 

Richard Acree is the author of the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections ActiveRain Blog and founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors.  All are welcome to join and see more blogs like this one.  You can also join HABITEC on Facebook or Linked .

 

 

 

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Rainmaker
220,894
Jim Mushinsky
Centsable Inspection - Framingham, MA

What's wrong.  First I'd say the copyright statement claiming comments here are your intellectual property. 

Radon is heavier than air, thus it will settle in low areas such as basements.  I have read that typical ambient air may contain 0.4 picocuries per liter of radon.  The radon content of the ambient air in the house will settle in the lowest areas.  Radon through the foundation is not the only way that Radon may enter the home.  I'm not aware of an EPA sign off on any deaths.  I believe the EPA numbers on based on scientific calculation with some small data sets.  I am aware of a few hundred people in a survey in Iowa.  I have not been able to view a copy of the data nor the scientific analysis of the findings.  I can't find any medical doctors that claim similar results to the EPA.  I can find many medical web sites that defer to the EPA statement and do not offer agreement nor disagreement with the EPA.

From the home inspection perspective, unfortunately it is common for the power source to be connected to the GFCI basement circuit, which may also be connected to the garage and bathrooms, and too often the power has been interrupted. 

As you might have guessed, I'm skeptical on the EPA Radon papers as well as the Radon papers from the World Health Organization.  I not quite convinced residential radon is in the same category as global warming. 

I'll end as I began, my opinion is not your intellectual property.  Thanks to Active Rain for making this space on the internet available to your members.

 

 

Jan 30, 2011 01:58 PM #1
Rainmaker
112,529
Robert Dirienzo
HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC - Franklin, TN
Home Inspections - Nashville TN

Wow, interesting perspective Jim.  Based on your comments it appears that you may not be certified as a Radon Measurement Technician with NEHA.  I'll clear up some misunderstandings.

First, the copyright statement is applicable per advise from council.  Your approval is not part of the discussion or necessary.

Second, "Radon is heavier than air".  Please provide your source for this statement.  And remember, air in a home is not stagnant.  Stagnant air is air that is not moved by force.

Third, the source for the EPA estimated deaths from radon is the Health Risk assessment provided by the EPA.  One of the many sources for this is the online website http://www.epa.gov/radon/healthrisks.html .  Not being knowledgeable of this basic information is one of the issues that brought your qualifications and certifications in question.

Fourth, I am not sure where you operate but in TN certified radon mitigation system installers do not install radon mitigation systems that utilize a GFCI outlet as a power source.  Electrical power supplied to the electrical circuit for an active mitigation system is one with a circuit breaker at the subpanel, not plugged into a GFCI outlet.

Fifth, my article did not relate residential radon [threats] to global warming.  Not sure where you are going with this.

If you are not certified with NEHA-NRPP as a radon measurement provider I would recommend you look into it.  The information provided there may enlighten you on the issues of radon and radon mitigation.

Thank you,

Richard Acree

HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC

http://habitecinspections.com

Feb 01, 2011 04:09 PM #2
Rainer
75,108
Bruce Breedlove
Avalon Inspection Services - Colorado Springs, CO

A little knowledge can be dangerous. That reply is a good example of the kind of misinformation that is being circulated about radon. Richard, keep up the good work of spreading facts regarding radon.

Mar 28, 2011 05:22 PM #3
Rainmaker
112,529
Robert Dirienzo
HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC - Franklin, TN
Home Inspections - Nashville TN

Hi Bruce, well said.  I do appreciate a good discussion about environmental issues that can effect a home.  Sometimes I wish it was mandatory for those providing services for environmental issues to have some sort of formal training and certification that is approved at the State level.  At HABITEC we took it upon ourselves to get that training and I have always felt it was time and money well spent.

Thanks,

Richard Acree

HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC

http://habitecinspections.com

Mar 29, 2011 01:03 AM #4
Anonymous
lisam

We had a unit installed in our basement on Monday.  The monitor flow was elevated in the correct location, but not at as high of level - was at 1 versus the almost 2 in the image posted above.  Is the suction not good enough with the install?

After 24 hours of install, the monitor began to fall - closer to zero different, and this morning, the monitor guage is elevated in the opposite direction.  I have the certified technician coming back out today - I am concerned that the sump pump is no longer working and the water level is building up so the air flow is halted.   The unit is running - I can hear it downstairs and through the wall upstairs (constant humming) - so it is not an electrical issue.

If my worries are correct, do I need to be concerned that the unit has been under extra stress?  Or just resolve the water issue and assume no harm to the unit?

Thank you for any guidance you can provide.

Jan 08, 2013 07:03 PM #5
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Rainmaker
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Robert Dirienzo

Home Inspections - Nashville TN
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