More and more people are becoming aware of the significant risks that come with prolonged radon exposure, and are also taking more steps to prevent this sort of exposure in their home or building. One such approach that’s even begun to rise in popularity: Building new homes or buildings in ways that naturally increase radon resistance and get out in front of radon concerns before they ever begin.
At Absolute Radon Safety, we’re proud to offer the very best radon mitigation and testing systems available in Colorado, ensuring home and building owners around the state are protected. We’re also well aware of these increasing efforts toward radon-resistant construction, and we completely support this initiative! For our clients who care about avoiding radon and its risks, here are some basics on how radon-resistant construction works for new homes or buildings.
A “Passive” Radon System
While most radon mitigation systems you’re familiar with are installed in an active sense – that is, they address a concern that’s already present – radon-resistant construction is a more preventative approach. These systems are typically referred to as “passive” radon mitigation systems, and involve building the home or building in such a way that it’s naturally resistant to radon intrusion.
This process begins before the foundation of the building is ever poured, and sets the entire structure up for radon protection from the start. Our next few sections will go over the process for how this works.
Aggregate and Pipe Laying
Before the foundation is laid, and while the foundation’s “footprint” is still being arranged, loose aggregate will be laid down around the perimeter of the area. From here, a perimeter drain pipe will be laid on top of the aggregate.
This pipe will then be connected to PVC piping, which is routed up through the slab or basement walls as part of a venting system. The end result is a piping system that’s connected to the sump pump basin and routed outside at ground level. This allows air and gas to flow between the foundation.
Next up, a vapor barrier will be installed on top of the aggregate before the footing can be poured. This vapor barrier takes the form of a thick plastic sheet, and it serves to keep moisture away from the foundation while also preventing radon gas from entering into the structure.
This barrier is important, as it restricts the flow of gas upward to the foundation. If there were any cracks in the foundation, this upward flow would allow gas to enter the home or building, but with a vapor barrier in place this flow is blocked.
At this point in the construction process, the foundation can be poured. It’s worth noting that when pouring the concrete slab or basement walls, it’s best practice to use a composite of Portland Cement and Fly Ash in order to reduce water permeability.
This composite mix will help further restrict gas flow and is especially important for those homes or buildings that may have higher levels of radon. Ensuring the slab or walls are mixed with a composite helps make the structure even more resistant to radon intrusion, and increases overall safety for those living within it.
PVC Discharge Piping
Next, PVC discharge piping will be run through the center of the home from a stub located in the foundation. This pipe will be connected to the venting system we mentioned earlier, and it’ll ensure that any radon gas is discharged outside of the home or building.
This piping also helps prevent pressure from building up inside the structure – another possible contributor to radon intrusion – thus adding yet another layer of protection for those living within it.
Finally, electrical access will be routed into the attic near the discharge piping, allowing easy access to the system in the event of maintenance or repair. This helps ensure that any air and gas are being discharged properly, as well as providing assurance that the radon-resistant construction is working as intended.
Are These Systems Effective?
The answer here is definitely yes – but what’s up for debate is whether these systems have similar effectiveness to active mitigation systems, like the fan-based approaches that typically take place after a home or building is already constructed.
At least at this point in time, the answer there appears to be no. While passive radon mitigation systems are effective on their own, and are often just fine in areas with low radon levels, they don’t quite match the level of protection that active systems offer.
That said, passive radon mitigation systems are still an incredibly valuable tool for those looking to take extra steps towards preventing radon intrusion in their home or building. In addition to reducing the possibility of a future mitigation system being needed after construction is complete, it also provides a layer of peace-of-mind for those who may be looking to protect their family or tenants from radon exposure.
You Still Need to Test
Even if you’re moving into a new home or building that features a passive radon mitigation system, you should never take for granted that it’s working properly. Testing for radon levels after construction is completed is an essential step in ensuring that the structure is safe and that all necessary prevention steps have been taken.
If your test results do come back high, don’t worry. Fortunately, there are measures that you can take – both passive and active – to reduce your radon levels and make sure they stay within safety guidelines.
For more on this, or to learn about any of our radon testing or radon mitigation systems, speak to our team at Absolute Radon Safety today.