With a strong presence in Kansas City and years of experience, thousands of homeowners have trusted Certified Radon to take care of the radon needs in their home. Most Kansas Citians think of us in the context of residential radon removal. While residential is important, it isn’t the only type of radon mitigation that we perform. We are also experts in commercial radon testing and mitigation.
So here’s the Bottom Line Up Front: As a building owner or manager, we know you take providing a safe environment for your tenants very seriously. It is important that you know about radon and its risks. Though there isn’t a federal mandate, it is highly suggested that you test your building to ensure safe levels and take action if necessary.
While on a recent commercial job, we got to thinking about how different the process can be between residential and commercial radon testing and mitigation. At the most basic level, the components of the system are pretty much the same, but the work and planning that goes into commercial mitigation can be vastly different. There are many factors that come into play that are unique to commercial buildings and their use. What are those factors? We explore below.
There is a wealth of information about residential mitigation and public awareness is growing every day. An unfortunate reality we deal with regularly is that the information and public awareness regarding commercial mitigation has a lot of catching up to do. Why does this matter? We often overlook the fact that many commercial buildings hold the same people for at least 8 hours a day 5 days a week. That is a significant amount of time to be exposed to radon. We often think about how awful it would be to have someone take all the proper precautions and remove radon in the home, only to go to a workplace that exposes them to unsafe amounts of radon 8 hours a day. We are striving to bring awareness and push the conversation forward when it comes to radon in commercial locations. If it matters in the home, it matters in these locations as well.
The EPA has not explicitly stated an action level for radon in commercial buildings. It is generally accepted that the action level for radon in residential units should be the target for commercial buildings as well.
Commercial and residential HVAC units are different enough that being competent in one does not guarantee competence in the other. Commercial systems are much more powerful, located in different spots than what is typical for a home, and affect more people than a basic home system. The systems vary greatly from building to building but tend to have a greater impact on differentials in pressure – which in turn affects radon levels. We have to factor these systems into what we do for these buildings as a whole, and it requires different knowledge than residential.
Some helpful info regarding HVAC: https://cfpub.epa.gov/si/si_public_record_report.cfm?Lab=NRMRL&dirEntryId=128723
Building Variables and Floor Plans with Unusual Structural Features and Radon Entry Points
The structural features and floor plans on commercial buildings are completely different from residential, and as such, they present a different challenge for identifying radon entry points.
A strong understanding of building construction and floorplans is essential to proper identification.
Increased “Stack Effect”
Buildings tend to have a more prominent indoor airflow that increases “stack effect”, which is a factor that presents some resistance to these systems. In essence, since buildings are not 100% tightly sealed, there will be air infiltration. Since indoor and outdoor air will have different densities, sometimes an upward thrust is created, increasing air infiltration.
This increased “Stack effect” has to be accounted for when thinking through the planning of these systems.
In many scenarios, residential mitigation costs one homeowner a couple of hours while we install the system in their home. For businesses, the process can be more complex, and many times it is not an option for the business to shut down for a full day or two. It may need to be serviced in the evening hours. There may be noise restrictions in an area. For schools, there is an extra level of caution around worksites. Flexibility and understanding of business needs become crucial in most commercial jobs.
In short, commercial mitigation and residential mitigation are different animals. While a good portion of the knowledge transfers, there are some key differences that must be considered when mitigating commercial buildings.
To ensure peace of mind and safety among their clients, most building owners take plenty of precautions with the buildings they oversee. Those safety precautions should definitely include testing for radon and mitigation when necessary. We partner with building owners all around the KC metro to ensure peace of mind for them and their tenants. That’s what we’ve always been here to do.
If you are a property manager or building owner of a commercial or multifamily building (or you are considering purchasing one), you should know that commercial radon testing is less expensive than you may think. Why not provide peace of mind to every occupant? The time to test is now. Call 816-587-3500 or request an estimate here.