How do I fix my radon problem?
Radon levels may vary significantly from one building to another. The radon levels in a neighbouring building cannot accurately predict the radon levels in your home. So the only way to be sure about your home is to have a radon measurement made.
When to take action to protect your home
If you have measured the radon level in your home over a three month period and if it is above the national Reference Level of 200 Bq/m3, then you should consider taking action to reduce it.
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What you can do if your home has high levels of radon
There are a number of ways to reduce the levels of radon in your home. Many of these are simple to install and inexpensive.
Many radon reduction techniques, often called radon remediation, can be undertaken by DIY enthusiasts or your local building firm.
For more complex situations it may be necessary to consult a contractor specialising in this type of work who will be able to give you specific advice about the most suitable solution for yourself and for your home.
Radon remediation works either by preventing radon entering your home from the ground underneat or by removing the radon after it has entered your home.
The RPII has a list of companies that offer a radon remediation service. This list has been compiled for information only and the RPII does not approve or authorise the services provided by these companies.
To help you choose a remediation company, you should consider the following:
- Get a few quotes to enable you to make comparisons and to help ensure you get the best value
- If the contractor gives references try to talk to the person who gave the reference or see the work for yourself
- Has the contractor been recommended to you?
- Do you know a local builder or contractor that may be able to do the job for you?
- Discuss the following with the contractor:
- Post remedial measurements
- Fan maintenance (for active sumps)
- Costs of running fans (for active sumps)
- Retesting after significant building work is completed on the home
No matter which method you choose, it is important to have your home re-tested after the work has been completed, to ensure that it has been successful in reducing the level in your home to below 200 Bq/m3. The RPII provides a free post-remediation service to homeowners.
Normally remediation is successful at the first attempt. However, sometimes more work is needed to reduce the radon levels to below 200 Bq/m3. Therefore you should agree with your contractor what steps may be taken if the radon levels remain high.
There is no absolute certainty that radon will be reduced to below 200 Bq/m3 even following a number of remediation attempts. While this rarely happens, it is important to note that any significant reduction in radon levels will reduce your risk of lung cancer even if the levels are not reduced below 200 Bq/m3.
Remediation work qualifies for tax credits at 13.5% under the Home Renovation Incentive scheme. The main points of the scheme are as follows:
- Tax credit is provided at 13.5 % on the cost of renovation, repair or improvement works on a home
- A minimum of €5,000 (including VAT) must be spent to qualify
- This qualifying threshold of €5,000 can be reached by carrying out any number of jobs over the two year period of the scheme (to 31st December 2015)
- The home must be the main residence (ie it does not apply to holiday homes, investment homes etc)
Full details of the scheme are available from Revenue here.
You may also be eligible for a grant to have this work carried out under the Housing Aid for Older Persons Scheme. Contact the Housing Section of your Local Authority for further information.
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The main methods of radon remediation (reduction)
The main methods of radon remediation are described in the booklet Understanding Radon Remediation – A Householder’s Guide
However, if you need more detailed information about these radon remediation methods you should consult the booklet Radon in Buildings - Corrective Options or a specialist radon remediation contractor.
The most common methods of reducing or preventing high radon concentrations in your home are:
- Installing an active radon sump (sub-floor depressurisation). This is the most effective method of reducing radon and the most common remediation method in Ireland.
- A sump can be installed within a day and with very little disruption to the house as the work is carried out outside the house.
- The work typically costs about €850, but this can range from €450 to €1150, depending on the complexity of the work.
- The running cost of the fan depends on the power of the fan used. The running costs range from about €50 using a 30 watt fan to €110 for a 70 watt fan per year.
- This method can reduce the highest radon concentrations by typically 90% but this may range from 60% to 99%.
2. Increasing ventilation
- Increasing indoor and underfloor ventilation can reduce radon levels by typically 50% and so can be suitable for homes with up to about 400 Bq/m3 of radon.
3. Passive sumps
- For radon levels up to 400 Bq/m3, a passive sump can reduce radon levels by up to 66%. A passive sump is a sump system that works without the action of a fan. Instead, wind action over the top of the sump pipe draws radon up through the sump system.
4. Combination of methods
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- Combining a fan assisted sump and increasing ventilation can also be used to successfully reduce radon levels.
Homes built after July 1, 1998
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- If your home was built after 1st July 1998, the building regulations require that it is fitted with a standby radon sump. This is simple pipe work that extends from under the foundations into the outdoor air.
- For houses built in High Radon Areas the installation of a radon barrier as well as a standby sump is required.
- The installation of these protective measures is not a guarantee that radon concentrations will be below the recommended level. You should therefore have a radon measurement made within the first year of moving into your new home.
- Should elevated radon levels be present, the standby sump can be activated by adding a fan.
- Installing radon barriers and sumps at the time of construction greatly reduces the cost and the small disruption associated with remediation as the need to excavate beneath the house to install a sump is avoided.