What is a Radon System?

Mary McMahon

A radon system is a system which is designed to keep radon levels in a home low. Radon systems can be installed in new construction or added to an existing structure as a retrofit. There are a number of approaches to radon system installation, including both passive and active options, with many installers preferring active radon systems. When seeking a contractor to install a radon system, property owners should look for a company which has been certified in the installation of such systems.


Radon is a colorless, odorless gas which is produced through the natural breakdown of radium, a chemical element found abundantly in the soil all over the world. As the radon rises through the soil, it can enter structures and become trapped. Radon has been linked with a variety of human health problems, making it a concern. People can test for radon to find out whether a structure has accumulated dangerous levels, and a process known as radon mitigation can be used to remove the gas. After mitigation, the installation of a radon system to prevent another buildup is usually recommended.

Installing a passive system involves sealing a home and attempting to create a pressure differential which encourages venting from the home. This can include laying out membranes underneath a home so that radon cannot vent up into the structure, sealing cracks in basement floors, or so forth. Passive systems are more common with new construction.

In an active system, pipes are extended below the floor and vented out through the roof or around the sides of the building. The pipes are attached to a radon fan which sucks radon out of cavities under the floor, ensuring that the radon is pulled into the pipe and vented away rather than being allowed to float up into the structure. Active systems need to be installed with care and in accordance with the code; for example, the pipe needs to be far away enough from windows and doors that the radon gas will not be pulled back into the house.

There is no way to predict whether or not a structure will have high radon levels. Radon can accumulate in structures made in a wide variety of ways. Only radon testing will determine radon levels. Having a radon system can make a home more appealing to potential buyers, as long as the system is well maintained and functioning properly, as it acts as an assurance that they need not worry about radon.

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