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Thread: Air testing at home

  1. #61
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    No problem at all - I want to caution I'm far from being an expert I'm just another concerned homeowner who is trying to solve a radon problem.

    What I mean by exhaust fans are fans that only remove air from the house, lowering the air pressure inside the house.

    I don't know your setup for sure but turning the furnace on may or may not pressurize the house. For example, my house has no fresh air inlet on the cold air return of the furnace (only a combustion air inlet for the burner and it doesn't leak any substantial amount of air into the house), so running the furnace just moves air around, and heating the air inside the house increases the stack effect which seems to cause the radon levels to rise. If you have an outside air inlet it may help, or if you have some kind of fan system actively bringing air into the house that could be even better.

    Last weekend I installed a somewhat ghetto mitigation system in my house so I'm hoping I am near the end of my radon adventure. I went around and closed all the windows in the house for the first time in the 4 months since we moved in (literally, they've all been open at least 1" since the day before we moved in) and we are monitoring the radon levels. Hopefully I'll have some results after a couple weeks, though if I see another 2000+ spike before then I'll probably open the windows again and invalidate the test.

    We have talked to many radon mitigation professionals over the past 4 months, and even with our spikes into the 2000-4000Bq/m^3 range they all said the same thing, don't panic, keep taking the readings, get an accurate average. They all wanted a minimum of 30 days average as an indicator of whether to do a 90 day test and only then would make a decision on a mitigation system. When our levels got over 1000 we would generally just leave the house if possible, I mean this doesn't work at night, but we'd just spend more time with the kids at the playground or whatever if it was during the day. Outside air has a radon level of about 0-6Bq/m^3 where I live so I figure a couple hours at those levels brings the average exposure down significantly.

    For our house, the professionals wanted us to keep the windows closed to get accurate numbers but since we committed early that we were doing mitigation regardless we didn't follow that recommendation.
    Originally posted by Vagabond142
    Is the best game. Ever. In everness. It is more awesome than a robot caveman punching God in the dick. It is that awesome

  2. #62
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    What I am noticing now is that every time I check the meter, it's usually around 100-175 "spot" 1-day reading, but my long term average keeps going up and up - now at 192. The 1-day average reading doesn't change fast at all, so I think it's very unlikely that it spikes every time I'm not looking at it. I am puzzled by the LT average climbing with my 1-day readings always being below the LT average.

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    It's simple, if you remove air using exhaust (bathroom) fans, you must replace it via the cold air return+furnace otherwise this creates a negative pressure in your house.
    You want positive pressure if you want to keep radon out.
    What mitigation does is make sure that the pressure under your house is always less than the pressure in your house.

  4. #64
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    got my kit thru the University of Calgary link posted earlier in this thread.

    Started monitoring yesterday. Will be sending the puck back to the lab in march to see what the results are.
    Tim

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    What I am noticing now is that every time I check the meter, it's usually around 100-175 "spot" 1-day reading, but my long term average keeps going up and up - now at 192. The 1-day average reading doesn't change fast at all, so I think it's very unlikely that it spikes every time I'm not looking at it. I am puzzled by the LT average climbing with my 1-day readings always being below the LT average.
    I don't really know that exact meter but the brand you picked is known to be pretty accurate. Can you use the micro-usb port to download the readings and chart them yourself to see what's going on?
    Originally posted by Vagabond142
    Is the best game. Ever. In everness. It is more awesome than a robot caveman punching God in the dick. It is that awesome

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zero102 View Post
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    I don't really know that exact meter but the brand you picked is known to be pretty accurate. Can you use the micro-usb port to download the readings and chart them yourself to see what's going on?
    I did not know I could do what with the port - thanks. I assumed it was just for firmware updates. Maybe worth a look.

    At least I'm still under 200 (barely) for the LT reading, which is probably not too bad but I still have some time before it's considered accurate.

  7. #67
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    This is my ghetto-ish mitigation system from last weekend:


    There are lots of wrong things here:
    - The pipe doesn't go very far into the floor, only 2", this might not be excellent but it is deep enough to get a good seal and my hands were tired, my arms hurt and my chisels had gotten dull so I stopped there
    - The pipe is sewer rated not schedule 40 as recommended. So it's not as impact resistant but it should live through the pressures it will see
    - The pipe runs out through what used to be a sliding window. This window was only 10"x14" and is over 5 feet off the ground. It was never escapable in the first place, though it does affect the ability to ventilate what is arguably the smelliest room in the house (the used-to-be-a-super-shitty-dangerous-kitchen-but-now-holds-cat-litterboxes room)
    - The fan is mounted quite low to the floor. This is because I only had 45 degree angle pieces. I should have done 45 + 22.5 and raised the fan up but I was working with what I had on hand. This makes it harder to fit the static pressure gauge but not impossible
    - The power cord for the fan is just a pc power cable with the end cut off through a 4004 bushing, probably should have a proper gland fitting, though it is sufficiently sized for the load and protected enough for the application (I wouldn't recommend putting it outside wired like this)

    Then some less-than-ideal things:
    - We were not able to access the seam between the slab and the foundation walls around the perimeter of the slab, there is definitely some suction loss and potential radon ingress there
    - We could not reach the floor drain to seal around it. The asbestos-laden flooring overlaps the area we would like to reach
    - The cracks in the floor, although very small, are not sealed
    - The fan is located inside a living space and makes a noticeable noise. It's audible on the next floor up when the house is very quiet
    - The fan is actually over-sized. We didn't have a good understanding of how well air would flow through the sand under the slab so we erred on the side of over-sizing the fan. I would like to downsize a little since this one is kind of loud and draws 80W of power continuously.


    The reason these corners were cut is because it is ONLY TEMPORARY. As I'm sure we've all said about many projects, but seriously it is. We are unable to drill the suction point in my intended location due to asbestos containing flooring that requires expensive professional removal. We are unable to run the duct vertically through the main floor and place the fan in the attic because the drywall on the main floor also contains asbestos in the mud as we should not disturb it. I did not want to cut a hole through the wall (and consequently, through the stucco) for a system that is going to be removed later.
    The plan is to gut the entire house, remove all of the asbestos and make some structural changes. At that time proper ducting will be run through to the attic, the fan will be moved out of the living space, and everything will be done properly. In fact, the plan was not to mitigate the radon at all until we were ready for the big renovations, but that plan was made when we thought the 90-day average would be 200, unfortunately it's closer to 500 and so I agreed to come up with a band-aid solution that is, like many things, a combination of compromises. The intent was to minimize the changes to the house that would be hard or expensive to reverse later, but to try to get the radon levels more livable.... it's just not a good feeling putting the kids to bed and seeing 1500Bq/m^3 on the radon meter right beside where they sleep.

    When I started the installation radon levels in my house had just fallen down to a very low level so I have no indication whether it is working well or not. I'll try to report back in a few weeks once I've had time to gather some data.
    Originally posted by Vagabond142
    Is the best game. Ever. In everness. It is more awesome than a robot caveman punching God in the dick. It is that awesome

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    @Zero102 where did you buy the supplies? My basement has a "randon vent pipe" installed so I assume I can hook up a fan and pipe it out of my house?

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    Quote Originally Posted by craigcd View Post
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    @Zero102 where did you buy the supplies? My basement has a "randon vent pipe" installed so I assume I can hook up a fan and pipe it out of my house?
    Amazon.ca has all your radon needs! @Zero102 , I know it's temporary but you should have a manometer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phreezee View Post
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    Amazon.ca has all your radon needs! @Zero102 , I know it's temporary but you should have a manometer.

    Thanks. I need to re-read this thread. I am currently developing my basement and I have the "radon pipe vent" sitting there. Wonder if its worth testing or just set up the mitigation and be done with it.....?

    I guess having a baseline wouldn't hurt.

  11. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by phreezee View Post
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    Amazon.ca has all your radon needs! @Zero102 , I know it's temporary but you should have a manometer.
    That's exactly where I bought mine! I bought the RadonAway GP-301 on Amazon. There's a few places you can buy radon fans from, don't shop just on price, find the right fan (right suction, right cfm, noise level, power consumption, size, etc.) then find the cheapest place to get it. You will also find that radon mitigation equipment is FAR more common in the US than here so very often shipping something up either to Montana and picking it up, or shipping it right here, is often much cheaper than buying within Canada.

    Talking about where to buy fans reminds me, if anyone is curious the total cost of my mitigation attempt was about $425 including tax. The fan was $283 (at the time, now $293) on amazon.ca, the rubber couplings were about $8/each, pipe was $15, fittings were $25, the sealant was $8, manometer was about $20, and the rest was made from scraps and supplies I already had around (plywood, window glazing tape, pvc cement). I phoned a few professionals for quotes and was given numbers between $2200 and $3500 for a mitigation system installed. I know they were offering to provide a better quality installation but they recommended the suction point I had already selected and would have used the same fan so I am hoping to get a similar end result. I suspect my installation will not be as long lasting (probably a pipe will get banged into and break at some point) and I know I will eventually need to spend about $300 more to relocate the fan into the attic and upgrade the piping to schedule 40 (and potentially add a second suction point) after the main floor renovations.

    The radon levels have been no higher than 75 since we installed the fan about 42 hours ago and based on my chart that is highly unusual (it has only happened 3 times in the past 100 days). If this trend holds past midnight it'll be the longest such streak since I started measuring and at that time I can start to feel like we have actually made a difference and it's not just luck that the numbers are low right now.
    @phreezee Yes I totally agree. I checked suction with a hand-held digital manometer to verify I'm not maxing out the fan and that it's moving air (also checked air velocity at exhaust to determine CFM) and I own a U-tube manometer that was going to be installed but I made the vertical tube under the fan about 1" too short to mount it on the pipe itself. I am going to buy a longer length of vinyl hose and mount it on the wall beside the fan as soon as I find a store that carries the right size.

    For my longer-term mitigation system I was planning on deploying a couple ESP8266 microcontrollers and narrow-range digital pressure sensors to actually monitor the suction level under the slab.... I'm a bit of a data geek so it sounded fun, but it lets me do things like turn the fan off for 30 seconds every week or so to make sure it's still actually sucking from all corners of my basement (and to re-zero the sensors).

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    Quote Originally Posted by craigcd View Post
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    Thanks. I need to re-read this thread. I am currently developing my basement and I have the "radon pipe vent" sitting there. Wonder if its worth testing or just set up the mitigation and be done with it.....?

    I guess having a baseline wouldn't hurt.
    I like that houses are now coming with that pipe roughed in, but do go downstairs and check that it is properly capped off and sealed. I've heard of a handful of cases where people had the pipes provided by the builder and they weren't properly capped so it was basically a shortcut for radon to get into the house.
    Originally posted by Vagabond142
    Is the best game. Ever. In everness. It is more awesome than a robot caveman punching God in the dick. It is that awesome

  12. #72
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    I ordered a kit from Radon West this morning. Not sure if it will make any difference but I plan to be developing my basement at the same time as the sample is collecting so hopefully that isn't a issue. We will see, if I have to test twice I will. As I have a rough in I am pretty sure I could do a setup for less than 500$ so not to concerned just want to get it underway if so.

  13. #73
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    You already have the pipe installed in the floor, do you also have one going up to your roof? Might be worth planning the route that you will need to take just in case you need to install a mitigation system in the future.

    Also, since your basement is undeveloped right now, I highly recommend you read at least one or two radon mitigation guides for things you can do now to make your life substantially easier. Things such as polyurethane caulking the joint between the slab and the cement walls and sealing any penetrations through the slab. These things will make any mitigation you may have to attempt later much more successful and may be impossible to do once the basement has been developed.

    Personally I wouldn't install a mitigation system unless it your test high for radon levels. The expense of installing the system, the noise / maintenance of it, plus the potential for concern when selling the house (I feel like most people are totally ignorant of radon and would likely see a mitigation system as a negative thing) would discourage me unless radon levels were high enough that they were of concern.
    Originally posted by Vagabond142
    Is the best game. Ever. In everness. It is more awesome than a robot caveman punching God in the dick. It is that awesome

  14. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zero102 View Post
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    You already have the pipe installed in the floor, do you also have one going up to your roof? Might be worth planning the route that you will need to take just in case you need to install a mitigation system in the future.

    Also, since your basement is undeveloped right now, I highly recommend you read at least one or two radon mitigation guides for things you can do now to make your life substantially easier. Things such as polyurethane caulking the joint between the slab and the cement walls and sealing any penetrations through the slab. These things will make any mitigation you may have to attempt later much more successful and may be impossible to do once the basement has been developed.

    Personally I wouldn't install a mitigation system unless it your test high for radon levels. The expense of installing the system, the noise / maintenance of it, plus the potential for concern when selling the house (I feel like most people are totally ignorant of radon and would likely see a mitigation system as a negative thing) would discourage me unless radon levels were high enough that they were of concern.
    I need to look into what I can do now while the basement is undeveloped for sure.

    The rough in is simply the plumbing into the slab(sealed with a cap for now) so I would connect the fan to that and then vent outside. I would vent directly to the side of the house, from what I have read so far it dissipates quickly anyway and contact with anyone would be minimal regardless.

    I agree I wont be installing a system unless absolutely needed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Darell_n View Post
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    Do you ever have trouble with your Wave losing bluetooth sync and having to reset and lose chunks of data? Mine does it once or twice a week now.
    Mike
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikestypes View Post
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    Do you ever have trouble with your Wave losing bluetooth sync and having to reset and lose chunks of data? Mine does it once or twice a week now.
    Mine never had any bluetooth problems, but just before Christmas the reading jumped to around 14000 and stayed there. They are sending me a new unit and pre-paid postage to return the old one. Their customer service is excellent to deal with.

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