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Frozen Radon System Caused by Condensation and Cold Wisconsin Weather

Frozen Radon System from Condensation in Wisconsin 

How does the pipe on my radon system freeze?

In the winter months, your radon system draws warm damp air from under your basements concrete slab or crawlspace liner. When the warm air meets the cold winter air it condensates. This condensation cannot be avoided. The condensation at the end of your radon system’s PVC pipe creates ice buildup in colder weather. With extended temperatures below freezing, it is only a matter of time before enough ice builds up and clogs your radon system.

Is ice damming preventable on my radon system?

Lifetime Radon Solutions takes preventative measures to help counter ice jamming your radon system.
  • Lifetime Radon Solutions uses schedule 40 cellular core PVC pipe as opposed to cheaper schedule 20 PVC piping. The advantage of the schedule 40 cellular core piping is that it is both thicker and has insulating properties making it a great solution for Wisconsinites.
  • We do not use any varmint guards, vent covers, critter guards, vent caps or pipe angles of any kind on the exhaust pipe. Our cold Wisconsin winters can cause radon systems with covers to freeze over, because it collects on the mesh. 

What else can be done to prevent an ice clog on my radon mitigation system?

If your home has an attached garage, it is common for Lifetime Radon Solutions to recommend running your radon system up through the attached garage. One of the reasons is to save on electrical cost by utilizing an outlet inside the garage, but it is extremely uncommon for homeowners to contact Lifetime Radon Solutions about a frozen or clogged radon system that has been installed through the garage. It also has less condensation in a radon system that has been installed in the garage and thus less opportunity to build ice and freeze up.
Conversely, systems that are installed on the exterior of the home are required to be hard wired. This is because it is considered a fixed object. There is nothing wrong with an exterior radon system, however in colder states like Wisconsin there is a much greater chance that the system will clog up from ice damming due to condensation. Additionally, depending on where the system can be installed on the exterior it is typically less aesthetically appealing than one concealed within the garage.

Can my frozen radon system be unclogged?

Short of getting a latter and an ice chisel, there is not too much that can be done to fully prevent ice damming of your radon system. 4 inch PVC pipe used for larger jobs may be less likely to freeze up because more ice would have to build to cover the exposed surface area. We have heard of using heat tape, however that may not look aesthetically appealing and there is no guarantee it would be effective.
If you notice you radon U-Tube Manometer is showing a reading of zero, it may be from a frozen radon system. Rising temperatures is the best possible reactive fix to this issue.