Field Study and Numerical Simulation of Subslab Ventilation Systems
The effectiveness of the technique of subslab ventilation (SSV) for limiting radon entry into basements was investigated through complementary experimentation and numerical modeling. Subslab pressure fields resulting from SSV were measured in six well-characterized basements, each with a different combination of soil and aggregate permeability. The relationship between air velocity and pressure gradient was measured in the laboratory for the three types of aggregate installed beneath the basement slabs. A new numerical model of SSV was developed and verified with the field data. This model simulates non-Darcy flow in the aggregate. We demonstrate that non- Darcy effects significantly impact SSV performance. Field data and numerical simulations indicate that increasing the aggregate permeability within the investigated range of 2 x 10-8 - 3 x 10-7 m2 substantially improves the extension of the subslab pressure field due to SSV operation. Sealing of cracks in the slab and excavation of a small pit where the SSV pipe penetrates the slab also dramatically improve this pressure field extension. Our findings are consistent with the results of prior field studies; however, the studies reported here have improved our understanding of factors affecting SSV performance. The dependence of SSV performance on the relevant parameters are currently under investigation with the model.