It may sound like a strange way to start a discussion with a radon abatement specialist, but you can learn a lot by making this simple request: “Tell me about the fan.”
Radon is a pretty mysterious element, and unbeknownst to many, this odorless, invisible and potentially lethal gas is infecting thousands! In fact, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, causing over 21,000 deaths in the U.S. every year.
While radon gas may be mysterious, there’s not much mystery behind a typical radon abatement system. A radon abatement specialist installs a system of plastic pipes to extract radon-rich air from the soil beneath the house, dependent upon the home’s foundation.
In a basement installation, the plastic pipes extend through the basement’s concrete slab. If a house has a crawl space foundation with a dirt floor, the contractor will cover the dirt with a continuous plastic sheet that’s sealed to the crawl space walls. The pipe extends into the soil beneath the sheet to extract radon-rich air.
The suction to extract radon gas from beneath the house and blow it outdoors (where it can diffuse harmlessly into the atmosphere) is provided by a special fan. The fan blades are the only moving parts in the system. The fan plays a critical role in any radon abatement system, and not just because of the suction it supplies.
Location, Location, Location
An inline fan is used in radon abatement because it is mounted in-line with the plastic pipe’s vertical exhaust stack, as shown in the photo. The fan is always on, and because it operates continuously, a skilled radon mitigation specialist will install the fan where its noise will be least disruptive. Rubber couplings between the fan’s flanges and the pipe can help to minimize fan noise. These same couplings can also be used on an exterior exhaust stack to lessen noise.
If the pipe’s exhaust stack extends outside the house, it’s better for the fan to be outside a utility room, bathroom or hallway– rather than next to a bedroom or family room.
Sometimes the homeowner elects to have the exhaust stack concealed from view, meaning it will be placed within a home’s closet or chase-most commonly the attic.
Selecting the Right Fan
Fans designed for radon mitigation come with different power and speed ratings. An experienced radon mitigation specialist will make sure to select a fan that’s best-suited to the number of pipe penetrations into the soil, the length of the pipe run, and the density of the soil. A quality fan should have a warranty of at least 5 years.