Radon is a radioactive gas that can seep into homes from the soil, posing a health risk. To mitigate this danger, radon pipes are commonly used to draw radon from the ground and expel it safely outside. This article explores the question of whether radon pipes should have bends, delves into the ideal pipe size and the choice of material, and offers insights into why radon pipes may produce gurgling sounds.
Can Radon Pipes Have Bends?
Radon pipes play a crucial role in a radon mitigation system, working in tandem with an inline radon fan to continuously extract radon gas from the soil and release it outdoors. Given the pipes’ function, it’s often inevitable that they have bends, especially in homes where a considerable distance separates the foundation and the roof.
However, it is best to minimize the number of bends to optimize the efficiency of the radon mitigation system. Sharp bends should be avoided as they can restrict airflow, diminishing the system’s ability to draw radon from the soil. To ensure smooth airflow, it’s advisable to use angles of 45 degrees, which help reduce friction.
Compliance with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines is essential when locating radon vent pipes. These guidelines recommend placing the pipes at least 10 feet above grade and ensuring that they extend at least 10 feet away from building openings to prevent radon from re-entering the structure. Additionally, proper support for vertical and horizontal radon pipes is crucial, with vertical pipes requiring support every eight inches and horizontal pipes every seven inches.
Selecting The Right Pipe For Radon Mitigation
PVC schedule 40 pipes are the preferred choice for radon mitigation systems. These pipes possess several characteristics that make them suitable for the task:
- Smoothness: The smooth inner lining of PVC schedule 40 pipes minimizes airflow resistance, facilitating efficient radon elimination.
- Durability: These pipes are highly resistant to abrasion, corrosion, and the effects of many chemicals, ensuring long-term durability.
- Ability to Withstand Temperature Changes: PVC schedule 40 pipes remain sturdy even in extreme temperature fluctuations, important for outdoor radon mitigation systems.
What Size Should Radon Pipes Be?
Radon pipes typically come in sizes of three or four inches, and the choice between the two depends on various factors, including system performance, installation ease, aesthetics, and costs.
- Cost: Three-inch pipes are generally easier and more cost-effective to install due to their smaller and more affordable fittings. Four-inch pipes tend to be more expensive.
- Aesthetics: Three-inch pipes offer better aesthetics as they are easier to conceal discreetly.
- System Performance: Three-inch pipes are suitable for most residential radon mitigation systems with airflow ranging from 20 to 80 cubic feet per minute (cfm). On the other hand, four-inch pipes are better for systems with higher airflow rates, exceeding 100 cfm.
Four-inch pipes provide better performance and lower noise levels due to reduced air velocity, making them suitable for homes with walkout basements and large slabs. They also offer more flexibility when choosing an inline radon fan, helping ensure effective radon extraction.
Sizing Radon Fans
When sizing an inline radon fan, the critical factor to consider is its pressure field extension. The size of your building, foundation type, and current radon levels are factors to weigh when determining the appropriate fan size. It is recommended to consult a certified radon mitigation specialist to ensure the fan’s capacity meets your radon mitigation needs.
Can You Cover Radon Pipes?
Covering the top of radon vent pipes is not advisable, as it can interfere with airflow, potentially causing radon to flow downward into your home. Some states also prohibit covering the tops of these pipes. Additionally, rain caps should be avoided, as they can lead to ice formation during snowy weather, which can clog the pipes and render the radon mitigation system useless.
Radon pipes can handle moisture, and any water that enters the pipe should drain into the drain tile beneath your home. To keep small animals and debris out, you can install a small screen at the end of the radon vent pipe.
Why Do Radon Pipes Make Gurgling Sounds?
Gurgling sounds from radon pipes indicate that the pipe is full or partially filled with moisture. This issue is more common in systems with P-traps, where water can become trapped. Moisture in the soil gases passing through the radon pipes can also lead to condensation, causing gurgling sounds. Running pipes through conditioned spaces and ensuring proper drainage by sloping the piping can mitigate this issue.
Optimizing radon pipes is crucial for an efficient radon mitigation system. Minimizing bends and using the right pipe size, material, and placement are essential factors to consider. By adhering to these guidelines, you can effectively reduce radon levels and maintain a safe living environment for you and your family.