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What is a Radon Pump?

By Paul Scott
Updated May 16, 2024
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A radon pump or radon mitigation fan is a gas extraction device designed to reduce radon gas levels in buildings to acceptable or approved levels. Radon gas is a byproduct of the radioactive decay of uranium in the soil and is a known cause of cancer. Radon pumps reduce the levels of radon gas in buildings by extracting air from areas of radon gas ingress and venting it into the atmosphere. These extraction pumps are typically sealed, rotary extraction fan units installed inside or outside the building with a discharge point above roof level.

Radon is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas which is a result of the natural breakdown of uranium to radium. These elements occur naturally in all soils in varying concentrations. The radon gas byproduct of this decay process is constantly released from the soil and in open areas pose no direct health risks. It is when the gas is allowed to collect and exceed certain concentration levels that it becomes a serious health concern. There are several ways of ensuring radon levels are kept in check, the radon pump being one of the most efficient and cost effective.

Radon mitigation measures have become a major concern in recent years, and the installation of a radon pump system is now mandatory in many areas. Radon pumps generally draw air from beneath the floor of the lowest points in a building. These areas include crawl spaces and basements and typically represent the first area of entry for radon gas. The exhaust from the pump is then directed out of the building and vented above the level of the roof where it is unlikely to be drawn back into the interior.

A radon pump is usually a self contained, sealed unit with a weatherproof housing for exterior installation. Although most are rated for outside use, many units are installed in interior locations such as garage attics and closets. This arrangement is not always practical, though, due to the continuous running noise. The pump intake pipe is directed to the basement sump where it generally passes through the sump cover along with any sump pump plumbing. To maintain the integrity of the system, all joints in the intake and discharge pipe and the pump and sump cover entry are thoroughly sealed.

Prior to choosing a radon pump, tests should be carried out to establish the levels of contamination and a professional assessment made to define the size of the system required. There are several do it yourself (DIY) radon test kits available which require the exposed test material to be submitted to a laboratory for analysis. The best approach is generally to hire a professional to conduct the tests and assessment.

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