Think Twice Before Trying DIY Radon Mitigation

Discovering your home has hazardous radon levels can be alarming. You want to protect your family’s safety immediately, not wait and deal with contractors. Some homeowners consider tackling radon mitigation as a DIY project to save money and time upfront. But while this tempting option seems straightforward in theory, the risks and uncertainties of DIY radon mitigation make professional installation the only truly smart choice.

How Radon Enters Homes

Before weighing DIY against professional mitigation, it helps to understand what allows radon inside in the first place. Radon is a radioactive gas from natural uranium decay in soil and rock. It gets drawn into homes through suction and pressure gradients. As air exhausts through chimneys, HVAC vents, and appliances, it pulls new air in through any cracks or openings in the foundation. Radon gas gets sucked in easily this way.

Any gaps, hollow walls, cracks, loose covers or unfinished floors in basements create potential radon entry points. As pressure changes and air circulates, radon gets constantly drawn through these routes up from the ground and accumulates in the home. Left unaddressed, levels concentrate over time.

How Radon Is Mitigated

Professional radon mitigation works by reversing the air pressure gradient to prevent radon from being sucked inside. A 3-4” PVC pipe gets inserted through the concrete foundation floor into the crushed rock and soil beneath. A powerful in-line fan mounts to the top of the pipe that actively draws radon from under the house before it can enter.

The radon gets vented upward and away from the home where it dilutes harmlessly. This sub-slab depressurization creates a vacuum that counteracts the natural suction drawing radon gas in through foundation cracks and openings. Reducing basement and home air pressure is the key to effective and permanent radon reduction.

The Allure of DIY Installation

When faced with professional mitigation system quotes of $1200 to $2500, the prospect of installing radon piping and fans yourself for a few hundred bucks seems very tempting. DIY videos and tutorials make the process look straightforward. With some PVC, a ready-made radon fan, caulk and basic tools, many homeowners think they can handle it themselves over a weekend.

The draw of DIY radon mitigation is saving a significant sum upfront and taking quick control without waiting on contractors. But what those DIY guides can’t provide is the expertise and diligence needed to get radon levels low enough, permanently seal entry points, and provide lasting protection. Those aspects are where DIY projects often go wrong.

Critical Requirements the Pros Have

Certified radon mitigation contractors have specialized expertise, products and skills the average DIYer lacks. These include:

  • Professional fans rated for continuous radon venting. DIY fans burn out quicker.
  • Heavy duty schedule-40 PVC piping. DIY thin wall piping is prone to sagging and cracking.
  • Advanced sealing materials and protocols for a permanent airtight seal.
  • Understanding of home specifics like pipe routing, fan sizing and ideal vent locations.
  • Adhering to state radon codes and regulations during installation.
  • Diagnostic testing to confirm radon levels are reduced enough post-install.
  • Providing warranties and risk protection homeowner’s lack.

This level of products, preparation, skill and knowledge are not things found at your local hardware store or on YouTube. There is far more complexity to effective radon mitigation than it may appear.

Serious Health Risks of Failed DIY Mitigation

Without those professional elements in place, DIY radon mitigation often fails to reduce levels enough or leaves new entry pathways unsealed. This creates serious health risks that could worsen your home’s radon problems:

  • Continued radon exposure if levels stay elevated.
  • New entry points opened that increase radon concentrations.
  • Elevated radon levels in adjacent areas of the home.
  • Risk of backdrafting combustion appliances and causing carbon monoxide poisoning.

The goal of any radon mitigation is reducing radon exposure to the EPA’s threshold of 4 pCi/L or lower. But without testing or skills to confirm, DIYers can easily think they’ve solved the issue while hazardous radon remains. Don’t play games with your family’s health and safety.

DIY Radon Mitigation Checklist of Concerns

If you’re still considering a DIY radon project, carefully weigh these factors first:

  • Did I purchase professional-grade materials like schedule-40 PVC and a properly sized radon fan?
  • Can I create a permanent, airtight seal at the pipe penetration and all foundation openings radon enters from?
  • Do I know the optimal place to install the pipe and fan for maximum radon reduction?
  • Can I route PVC piping from the penetration site properly through my foundation and walls?
  • What are the radon vent exhaust requirements for my home based on proximity to windows, HVAC units, etc?
  • How will I confirm my DIY system reduced radon levels sufficiently if I can’t test properly?
  • Am I violating any state or local codes by not having a certified radon contractor do the mitigation?
  • How can I determine if I sealed all entry points or created any new unintentional radon pathways?
  • Will I forfeit insurance coverage or home value without certified radon mitigation records?

If you lack expertise in any area above, consider how much risk it adds trying to DIY such a complex process without guaranteed results. Weigh what’s truly involved before attempting it.

Trust Certified Radon Professionals for Your Family’s Safety

In the end, no amount of potential savings is worth gambling with your loved ones’ health and safety or ineffective results. While radon mitigation looks straightforward, the reality is far more nuanced. Leave it to qualified radon mitigation pros that have the specialized expertise, diagnostics, code compliance and experience needed to permanently fix your home’s radon problem. Hiring a certified professional the first time is the only sure way to protect your household.

Scroll to Top