How to Tell if Your Radon Mitigation System Isn’t Working Right

Installing a radon mitigation system in your home provides invaluable protection by reducing this radioactive gas. However, without proper maintenance and monitoring, the performance of these systems can deteriorate over months and years. Watch for these 10 warning signs that may indicate your radon mitigation system needs inspection and repair to keep your household safe.

  1. Follow-up Testing Shows Elevated Radon Levels

The clearest signal that your radon mitigation system is underperforming is if follow-up radon testing reveals concentrations are still at or above 4 pCi/L. Short-term tests using charcoal canisters or alpha track detectors should be conducted soon after system activation. Long-term testing over 90+ days also helps gauge radon reduction effectiveness.

Ideally, a properly working mitigation system will slash your home’s radon levels to under 2 pCi/L. If either short or long-term post-mitigation tests show radon concentrations consistently at or above 4 pCi/L, contact your radon contractor immediately to strengthen the system. Don’t assume a newly installed mitigation system is working until you confirm with testing.

  1. Radon Levels are Rising Over Time

In addition to post-installation assessments, regular radon testing every 2 years helps detect a failing system before exposure gets too prolonged. If new tests show radon levels are higher than past results, something may be wrong with your mitigation system.

Radon concentrations naturally fluctuate day-to-day. But a clear upward trend over months and years indicates declining mitigation system performance. Rising radon levels over time could mean retrofits are needed to restore maximum radon reduction in the home.

  1. Abnormal Sounds or No Fan Noise

A radon mitigation’s fan is the driving force that keeps harmful gases safely vented from the home. Any abnormalities in fan noise warrant closer inspection. Listen for rattling, grinding, squealing or other loud sounds coming from the vent pipe. Lack of normal operating noise could mean the fan stopped working entirely.

Radon fans are designed to run 24/7 with minimal sound. Fan noises that deviate from smooth, consistent humming may require fan repairs or replacement. Loss of suction and pressure caused by fan issues will allow more radon to accumulate.

  1. Visible Damage to Vent Piping

Carefully inspect the full length of exposed vent piping for any damage or problems. Look for detached or sagging pipes that may disrupt air flow. The connections between piping segments should remain tightly assembled with no leaks evident. Any cracks or holes in the pipes themselves can also hamper performance.

Outdoor radon exhausts are prone to damage from weather, vegetation, animals, and more. But maintaining intact, sealed pipes is vital so that radon gets fully vented to the exterior. Make sure all interior radon venting remains secure as well.

  1. Water Staining on Vent Pipe

The presence of water droplets, moisture, or stains around the radon vent exhaust or interior piping can be problematic. Water ingress indicates humidity and condensation issues within the piping network. This moisture impedes air flow and allows some radon gases to re-dissolve and escape back into the home.

Excess moisture in radon venting may point to a failing fan unable to keep exhaust air pressures sufficiently low. Make sure all exterior piping joints are well-sealed. Proper caulking, drainage, and pitching vent pipes helps minimize rainwater entry. Address damp vent issues promptly.

  1. Debris or Blocked Exhaust Outlet

Over time, radon vent pipe exhausts can get clogged with dirt, leaves, nests, ice or other buildup. Visually inspect the exterior vent opening for any debris obstructing airflow. Blockages in exhaust vents prevent radon from exiting and can back up the system.

High outdoor vents are still vulnerable to birds, insects, falling debris and weather. Maintain at least a few feet clearance around pipe openings and duct terminations. Check that exhaust airflow remains unimpeded in all seasons.

  1. Increased Humidity on Lower Home Levels

If your basement or ground floor feels damper, drier, or stuffier than normal, deficient depressurization may be allowing more moisture and radon inside. A properly functioning mitigation system keeps basements at an ideal lower air pressure that prevents both radon and humidity from migrating in through slab and foundation openings.

Inspect your basement or lowest floors for any signs of increased moisture or humidity. An uncomfortable, stale environment along with higher indoor radon indicates the mitigation system needs rebalancing. Proper depressurization addresses elevated humidity and radon.

  1. Condensation Around Indoor Piping

In addition to inspecting the exterior venting, also check portions of radon piping inside your home for moisture accumulation. Water pooling where pipes meet the basement slab or drip stains along indoor vent segments warns of airflow issues. Failing fans cannot maintain the right vacuum strength to draw radon from the ground.

Make sure water is not dripping onto indoor radon piping from other sources like overhead pipes or leaks. But when in doubt, call your radon contractor to diagnose causes of wet vent piping that allows radon to escape.

  1. Warning Light Activated

Some radon mitigation systems include a built-in warning light you can check for diagnostic codes. Different colors, blinking patterns, or text codes indicate what type of system failure or shutdown occurred. Refer to your mitigation manual for how to interpret indicator light messages.

Diagnostic LEDs offer an early alert something is amiss before radon levels spike. Never ignore or disconnect radon system warning lights. Use them to detect and troubleshoot problems promptly.

  1. Visible Foundation Cracks or New Gaps

Even with an active mitigation system, visible cracks in foundation walls or openings where piping exits warrant inspection. Making sure no new entry points formed over time is crucial. Sealing all gaps and openings supplements vent fan depressurization.

Inspect the foundation inside and out at least annually for any new cracks or separations that may release soil gases. Maintain high quality concrete seals around all pipe, electrical, plumbing and conduit penetrations. Caulk or foam small cracks. Ensure your mitigation system pulls from all possible radon entry locations.

Get Professional Diagnostics When Concerned

Never ignore potential red flags of underperforming radon mitigation. Contact a radon professional promptly if you suspect any decline or failure in your radon reduction system. Certified experts have tools to diagnose issues and restore your home’s radon protection. Getting ahead of problems ensures your household keeps breathing easier.

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