Home Buyer? Seven Radon Mitigation Suggestions from a Curious, Experienced Radon Mitigation Specialist / Building Scientist

The following information is not in any textbook, and it is not taught to radon mitigators in any training classes. Radon mitigators are not tested on such knowledge at any point.  Certification does not require that they have any knowledge of these basic but crucial facts. There are no continuing education requirements to keep them up to date. The following knowledge was gleaned from over thirty years of radon mitigation experience, testing and installing thousands of radon mitigation systems, mostly in hot, humid climates. Most products described were designed, developed by and manufactured to overcome the shortcomings of off-the-shelf devices re-purposed in an effort to prevent mold resulting from radon mitigation installations.

Adding hot, humid air into a home to dilute radon certainly increases indoor humidity and risk of mold.  Builders build watertight, airtight and sealed to keep water and water vapor out. Architects  specify air conditioners to dehumidify expected  moisture loads. Neither anticipated that radon mitigators might someday add heavy heat and moisture loads to mitigate radon by dilution and pressurization.

NOTE: Mold remediation is costly. If you encounter a not-so-new home that is like  new, it may be that it still has a concealed radon system that has repeatedly experienced and will continue to have mold problems. Home inspectors have received no training on how to identify concealed radon systems. Do not rely on a home inspector to warn you of a concealed radon system that can still cause mold problems. 

SmartVentilation’s automatic temperature/relative humidity controllers are available to all Florida Radon Mitigators They no longer have to rely on table lamp timers or unreliable mechanical dehumidistats in an attempt to prevent mold.

Radon mitigation by “Smart” mechanical ventilation has surprising and remarkably  valuable  unexpected benefits for all family members . . . and pets. . . In addition to decimating radon and preventing mold.
You will want them for your family too.

BUT:

Few real estate pros, home inspectors or radon  mitigators will disclose or reveal to a buyer:

  • That a fresh air radon system will increase the risk of mold and moldy odors in their new home. Unless it is never allowed to run.
  • Nor will they tell a buyer that most radon systems have homemade filters that must be serviced every 60-90 days or radon reduction will fail.

BUT, Architects, Engineers and Air Conditioning Experts will tell you that you should expect high humidity, mold and moldy odor problems with most south Florida fresh air-dilution radon mitigation installations. . . .  And if asked directly, most home inspectors will admit that radon systems often create new mold problems (unless they are turned off). But few will bring it up if not asked directly. (They fear gaining  a reputation among some sales pros as deal-killers.)

RESULT ? FACT: In hot, humid climates, most fresh air radon systems are turned off soon after a buyer takes possession and are never turned back on. WHY? Because of moisture, mold and high humidity comfort issues.

SOLUTION ? At a minimum, ensure that your Installation will include

  • AUTOMATIC humidity-sensing / mold-prevention controls and not just a table lamp timer
  • A quality, long life air intake filter, not home-made
  • An electronic, digital radon meter that will give an immediate  audible alarm when the system fails. And not a blue-oil-filled u-tube manometer.(Failure is more than common)  Your family should know immediately.

Seven Suggestions for Home Buyers

For the best protection for your family and your home, make sure that your installation includes EACH of the following including the sealing of all “Radon Fountains” in the event radon is above 7-8 picoCuries per liter:

  1. A Fresh Air Intake Filter with a high MERV rating to block entry of harmful airborne particles and toxins with extra-large capacity so that it that does not require frequent service.
  2. A Digital Moisture Control and Mold Prevention Device that uses real-time humidity and temperature measurements to accurately maintain a dry, comfortable, and mold-free  breathing zone. (and prevents moldy odors)
  3. A System that senses when the home is occupied or vacant and operates automatically without  requiring you to do anything except to keep the electricity turned on.
  4. A System that will automatically maintain Breathing Zone Carbon Dioxide levels to an optimal 600 parts per million for best cognitive function and sleep.
  5. A quiet Ductless System that does not require any new construction nor sacrifice of any interior space.
  6. A System performance/failure indicator that provides a digital readout of radon exposure and an immediate audible alarm in event of system failure.
  7. A quick, simple and accurate means to adjust the radon level and does not require installation of a dehumidifier to prevent mold.

Suggested checklist to evaluate radon mitigation proposals.

Decision #1 Fresh Air Intake Filter

All Automobile Manufacturers deliver automobiles with first class, long life air filters. ALWAYS

Why?
Because automobile engines last much longer if they breathe clean air. However,  Dirty filters choke an engine, reduce power and gas mileage.

DON’T YOU AGREE THAT  in your home, your family’s lungs deserve clean air even more than your automobile’s engine?

Fresh Air Intake Filter (Factory Made)
Requires Service every 18-24 months
MERV 14-15 Filter Material removes 95% of pollen, mold spores, PM2.5, smoke, soot, red tide and toxic algae particles, viruses, bacteria. SmartVentilation Type III Cone Filter. 

RECOMMENDED

Fresh Air Intake Filter (HomeMade)
Requires Service every 60-90 days
MERV 2-4 polyester “fluff” filter material initially removes 5-15% of larger particles. Filtration improves as it loads with dirt over its 60-90 day service life during which airflow slows and stops. 

NOT RECOMMENDED

Decision #2 Mold Prevention and Moisture Control? "Smart" vs "Not so Smart"

A Mechanical Ventilation Radon System can add a surprising amount of heat and moisture to a home’s breathing zone. It is important that the system be controlled so that high humidity discomfort and mold cannot occur. A “Smart” system can do just that without the need for a new dehumidifier.

Moisture supports mold growth.

Architects and Homebuilders design and build homes to keep water and moisture out. Watertight roof, weatherstripping, gaskets, waterproof coatings keep moisture out and prevent mold. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers control moisture that can’t be kept out. There are economic  reasons for them to do so. Lawyers call them product liability and malpractice torts. Some radon mitigation installations reveal little or no concern for such tort risks.

Automatic Indoor Temperature and Humidity Controller accurately measures indoor temperature and relative humidity in real time and precisely operates the system to maintain a preferred, dry, comfortable indoor environment even during severe outdoor weather conditions.

RECOMMENDED

“Automatic” Table Lamp Timer Temperature and Humidity Control turns system on and off according to a schedule regardless of indoor relative humidity or temperature. Warning label advises that system must be turned off when unoccupied or mold may result.
NOT RECOMMENDED

Manual (Light Switch) Temperature and Humidity Control can be actively operated by occupant to maintain preferred indoor comfort and relative humidity. Warning label advises that system must be turned off when the dwelling is unoccupied or mold may result.
NOT RECOMMENDED

 

Decision #3 Fully Automatic or Manual Operation?

“It never forgets” fully automatic operation.
Why take the risk when it is so easy to avoid?
Fully Automatic PIR (Passive infrared) Burglar alarm-type sensor
turns system on and off. Ultra-reliable and never forgets. ON when occupied, OFF when vacant. A delay off timer will operate the system when vacant for short periods. (2-2.5 days)

“Easy to forget” manual operation. Radon mitigators may post warnings to turn off radon systems when you are gone. . . . MOLD MAY RESULT, AND THEY ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE IF YOU FORGET. Ask a lawyer if that is true. (It isn’t true)

Manual (Light Switch) operated by occupant turns system on and off. Warning label advises that system must be turned off when unoccupied or mold may result. Often forgotten. Severe mold problem may occur over summer absence.

Decision #4 Ducted or Ductless?

Daisy Ductless systems are permit exempt in most jurisdictions for immediate installation instead of avoidable delays and costs for permitting applications, submission and approval.

Ductless

Ductless System Installations are quick, quiet and neat. Do not require any construction work, disturbance of crown moldings, or finish restoration. Easily controlled low but correct  ventilation rates minimize risk of moisture and mold. Variable speed, gentle “Trickle Ventilation” is easily dehumidified. Operated by digital temperature / humidity and/or CO2 controllers to prevent high humidity and possibility of mold..

Ducted

Ducted System installations are labor intensive and disturb occupants. They deliver hot, humid air into a small air handler closet. Hot, humid outdoor air condenses, moistening the drywall. Mold grows on the backside of the moist drywall, out of sight. Concealed mold causes moldy odors. Mold does not like air movement, so it does not appear on the exposed wall surface. Ducted systems are used when too-powerful, single speed fans are installed and deliver too much hot, humid outdoor air in heavy hot, humid air “Periodic Blasts” that overpower air conditioners and allow indoor relative humidity to moisten everything. Operated by table lamp timers on/off according to schedule that totally ignore dangerous high indoor relative humidity and mold.

MORE

 Read This FIRST:

Human bodies rid themselves of carbon dioxide by exhaling it in large quantities with each breath.

All Homes Need Fresh Air in Correct Quantities
fes homes have it.
Both radon and carbon dioxide can rapidly build up on occupied homes.

Cognitive function and quality of sleep decrease substantially as levels of breathing zone Carbon Dioxide rise above 600 parts per million.   Carbon dioxide of 2000+ parts per million are common in bedrooms. Re-breathing CO2 just does not make sense. It is avoidable Fresh air is rich in oxygen. Your brain and body will function better with the right amount of oxygen-rich fresh air, low in CO2. 600 parts per million is best.

This web was created and is maintained by an expert to help decision-makers (homebuyers) make informed RADON Mitigation decisions.

Read This SECOND:

FACT: Dilution and pressurization are effective in reducing radon

Clean air contains no toxins or harmful particles that can enter the bloodstream and circulate through a family’s organs and brains to harm them, cause allergies, asthma, Alzheimer’s, and shorten life spans.

Dry air and low moisture prevent destructive mold and “sick building environments” as well as well as dry air can keep occupants healthy and comfortable.

*Radon mitigations must also result in clean, dry, oxygen-rich air that will keep your family healthy and your home free of  mold damage.

Decision #2 Mold Prevention and Moisture Control? "Smart" vs "Not so Smart"

Moisture supports mold growth.

Architects and Homebuilders design and build homes to keep water and moisture out. Watertight roof, weatherstripping, gaskets, waterproof coatings keep moisture out and prevent mold. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers control moisture that can’t be kept out. There are economic  reasons for them to do so. Lawyers call them product liability and malpractice torts. Some radon mitigation installations reveal little or no concern for such tort risks.

Decision #3 Fully Automatic or Manual Operation?

“It never forgets” fully automatic operation. Why take the risk when it is so easy to avoid?

“Easy to forget” manual operation. Radon mitigators may post warnings to turn off radon systems when you are gone. . . . MOLD MAY RESULT, AND THEY ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE IF YOU FORGET. Ask a lawyer if that is true.

Decision #4 Automatic Carbon Dioxide Control?

Substantial evidence supports carbon dioxide control in breathing zones. Carbon dioxide Demand Control Ventilation will not only increase cognitive function, but it will also reduce energy consumption by as much as 60%+ over the prescriptive ventilation approach.

Decision #5 Ducted or Ductless

Decision #6 system Failure Indicator

In South Florida, Most Radon Comes From Concrete Building Materials (Not From the Ground)

Sub slab depressurization works well in the North. However in south Florida, sub-slab depressurization usually works poorly. Why? Because Radon is constantly oozing out of the concrete floor, walls and ceilings, especially in high rise residential buildings. Oozing into and becoming concentrated into what are unventilated gas chambers with no provision for fresh air.

  1. In the North, most radon comes from the soil.
  2. Usually, there is a crushed rock layer beneath the floor or a crawl space in which radon can collect and move freely, even for distances of 50-100 feet.
  3. As a result, only  one or two suction points can easily  draw radon from a large area and quickly move it directly to the out of doors instead of allowing it to percolate or be drawn into the breathing zone. Extraction/suction works beautifully.
  1. In south Florida, most radon comes from building materials that contain Radium 226. So serious radon problems are common even on the upper floors of high rise condos and apartment buildings.
  2. The Florida building code requires that before construction, the soil be compacted very tightly.
  3. As a result, radon often can move only a few feet and sometimes for only a few inches. Result? An extraction/suction applied to the soil beneath a floor will extend only a few feet or inches. Little or no extraction will occur.

In South Florida, Adding Fresh Air will successfully dilute radon and push back against Radon's entry into the breathing zone.

This video is coming soon. Check back in a few days.

But adding fresh air adds moisture, heat and "dirt" into a home's breathing zone.

Adding too much moisture (hot, humid outdoor air) can increase indoor relative humidity and make a home wet enough to create serious mold problems. Mold damages and poisons an environment and gives it an unpleasant smell. Cleanup is costly. NOT GOOD

Adding too much  heat (hot outdoor air) can over-power an air conditioner’s ability to keep a  home comfortable, and it will always increase energy bills. NOT GOOD.

Adding “Dirt” Increases a breathing zone’s airborne pollen, mold spores, soot, PM2.5, bacteria, viruses, red tide and blue/green algae airborne particles that can be inhaled and cause serious health  problems in all familly members and pets. NOT GOOD