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Sump Pump use in Radon Mitigation
A sump pump is an economical method of radon mitigation that can be installed in houses and buildings built on slab on grade or with basements when the presence of radon is found in the air. The EPA considers radon a leading cause of lung cancer in the non-smoking population worldwide and recommends radon mitigation if levels in a building are found to be over 4 pCi/L. This odorless and colorless radioactive gas is naturally occurring and produced by the breakdown of uranium in water, soil, and rock, and can be detected through commercially available test kits. One method that has been found to be highly effective in radon mitigation is the above mentioned sump pump.
A great feature of the sump pump is that along with filtering out the radon gas from the air it also helps with unwanted flooding which prolongs the life of a building in the long run. A sump pump is a device that uses suction to pump out liquids from a low-lying area. A sump pump is capped and is fitted with a pipe for liquid removal and an additional pipe specifically for the removal of radon gas from the air. The addition of a radon exhaust pipe to the sump pump works by bypassing the negative pressure inside a structure using a continuous air channel made of large diameter PVC that will fit in a finished wall and a continuously running electrical fan which creates the needed negative pressure and pulls the radon contaminated air through the house to the sump pump without permeating the breathable air with the dangerous gas. This PVC addition to the sump pump is commonly known as a radon exhaust pipe.
Important factors to keep in mind when deciding on a sump pump for radon removal include the importance of a readily removable cover to the sump pump for service along with the necessity for the cover to maintain an airtight seal for the prevention of conditioned air to be pulled into the radon vent pipe. The sump pump should have a cover that is extremely strong and is able to be sealed to the floor or basin. All chords and discharge pipes attached to the sump pump should pass through the cover and be tightly sealed. Ask yourself if rain or drainage from appliances cause water to flow into the basin or sump, in such a case a special drain cover should be obtained for the sump pump. This will allow the water to flow down to the sump pump but prevent air being drawn from the building, which can greatly increase energy consumption.
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A well-designed sump pump will allow the inspector or homeowner easy access to the sump basin via the installation of an inspection plug, in the absence of such plug the entire cover will have to be removed in case of an issue. Another viewing feature of some sump pump system covers is the addition of a clear window along with the pipes for radon removal and liquid drainage.
As with most specialized installation it is wise to do the research and find contractors who have the skill, experience, and background to install the sump pump to insure the continued good health of the inhabitants of the building.