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Facts About Radon In Homes:

Did you know that nearly every house in the country has some radon in it and 14 out of every 100 houses has dangerously high radon levels?

Everyone is at risk of radiation exposure from radon and older adults and children are most susceptible to the adverse health effects which include some cancers such as lung cancer, stomach cancer and leukemia.  Radon is also believed to cause or aggravate asthma

  If there are children in your home or if you are pregnant, or elderly; if you are a daycare provider sometimes care for grandchildren or other children in your home, you especially want to be sure the indoor environment is safe and healthy for the kids.

The potential for serious disease increases with exposure over time.  The average American receives 55% of his or her exposure to radiation from radon in their own home!  We're exposed to radon everywhere and your own home is the only place where you can control how much radon you're exposed to.  

Air Circulation, Ventilation and Indoor Radon

You've probably passed "Radon 101" for homeowners; this is from the PhD course  

Did you know that all the air in your home is regularly replaced with outside air?  How energy efficient your home is can be measured in air exchanges per hour which could be a few or a lot depending on how well insulated and tight your home is. 

You know that open doors and windows draw air to the opening and out of the house much like an exhaust fan does, the function of one being natural and the other mechanical.  Air rushing out of the home creates negative (low) pressure inside your home and since nature abhors a vacuum, radon laden air from the soil around your home rushes in to equalize the pressure.  

If there's something in your air that you don't want to breathe such as smoke from burning broccoli you forgot was steaming on the back burner of the stove, you turn on the exhaust fan which draws the smoke out.  The smoke-filled air leaving the house creates negative air pressure and new air rushes in (air exchange) to compensate: problem solved and everything's back to normal, except that more radon is being drawn into the house.  

So, will either natural or mechanical ventilation get radon-laden air out of your house?  NO!  In fact, it will have the opposite effect.  You see, when you create a negative air pressure condition in your house new air must rush in to equalize the pressure.  If all the new air that rushed in was clean outdoor air you might achieve your goal but some of the new air that comes in is from the soil under and around your home right through the foundation and concrete basement floor or first floor slab, which brings in more radon!  Since radon progeny has a relatively short life you exchanged your indoor air with some live progeny and some dead with all new live stuff to breathe into your lungs and cause lung cancer, stomach cancer and cause or worsen asthma. Ventilation is good for removing germ laden air you've exhaled into your home but it doesn't work for radon.

Ventilation is also not good for heating in winter because it draws cold outdoor air in, or cooling in summer because it draws warm outdoor air in.  Circulation on the other hand is good because it moves the conditioned air around moving warm air (which naturally rises) from the ceiling and cool air (which naturally falls) from the floor.  The effect is, the air temperature is moderated so that low things in the room i.e. your feet are the same temperature as higher things i.e. your head and you are comfortable all over. 

Ceiling fans are great for circulation.  Did you know good fans have two settings?  In summer you set the fan to blow down onto the floor which pushes the cool air up the walls and around the room.  In winter you set the fan to blow up pushing warm air off the ceiling, down the walls and around the room and to the cold air return registers.  In summer you might set the fan speed on high because moving air has a cooling effect on your skin but in winter you'll want the fan set to the lowest speed because even warm air which is less than body temperature of 98.6 degrees will have a cooling effect.

Good insulation lowers ventilation but in winter keeps heat in and in summer keeps heat out and exhausting air pulls heat out in winter and in summer pulls heat in but in neither case does it clean the air.  The moral of the story is a lot of insulation and some ventilation is good and you should strive for both.  What you probably weren't aware of is good circulation is always good so use your ceiling fans on the proper settings all year long.

 How do you control radon?  Pulling the radon out of the soil under and around your house is a good idea as long as you're not pulling it into the house.  Sub-slab ventilation is the common way to do this.  A certified radon mitigation contractor can install a system that draws radon laden out of the soil before it can enter your home and exhausts it through a vent pipe into fresh outdoor air where it is almost immediately diluted and dispersed and quickly dies.

The rate of natural ventilation varies with temperature, wind and weather and of necessity you use mechanical ventilation in the kitchen and bathrooms and as a result radon levels in your home go up and down.  How much; without testing, who knows?  A little is okay but too much creates an unhealthy situation.  So make sure you have a digital radon detector in your home.  You can monitor the radon level every day and if the level ever gets too high a siren will sound and you can a radon mitigation professional to evaluate the situation and recommend corrective action.

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One way to be confident that your radon levels are safe is to install an electronic monitor in your home.  You likely already have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home and a radon detector functions in much the same way with one outstanding difference.  A radon detector has a digital display so you can see at any time the radon level in your home displayed in pico curies per liter (pCi/l), and your radon detector also has a siren to alert you if your indoor radon level exceeds 4 pCi/l.  An electronic radon detector allows you to monitor radon levels in your home every day all year long. 

 

YOU CAN TEST A HOUSE FOR RADON

                      TEST HANDLING:  Radon home test kits are generally quite accurate, however the absorptive material can react to changing temperature and humidity especially during transit.  To assure accuracy you need to order 2 test kits. 

 

IT'S EASY TO TEST A HOUSE FOR RADON!

 

  1. Open the 2 test kits and place them side-by-side 4" apart, at least 22" above the floor and at least 2' from any outside wall and 3' from any door or window.

  2. At the end of the test period (specified on the package) go back to the house, close the test kits, put them in the prepaid mailer and mail promptly. 

  3. Wait for your results to arrive by return mail.

 

     

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

        

WHERE DO I TEST?  You should test on the lowest level suitable for occupancy.  If you have a basement family room, shop or workout room in the basement test there otherwise, test on the first floor in any room EXCEPT the kitchen or bathroom.

HOW LONG SHOULD I TEST?  Follow the package directions for opening the 2 test kits and place them side by side 4" apart at least 22" off the floor; at least 2'-0" from any outside wall and at least 3'-0" from any door or window.  Keep the kits open for the number of days specified on the kit package.

WHAT ARE PROPER TEST CONDITIONS?  While radon kits are open and testing keep all doors to the outside an windows on all floors of the house closed except for brief entry and exit.

HOW DO I GET TEST RESULTS?  At the end of the test period follow the package directions to seal the kit.  Put each kit in its own postage paid mailing envelope and mail immediately.  You'll get results back quickly by return mail or other method you select.  In the unlikely event that the readings from the 2 test kits are more than 10% different you should test again.

HOW DO I KNOW IF CONDITIONS CHANGE?  Geology is dynamic, conditions underground are always changing and radon levels can and often do change from safe to unsafe.  Protect your family from this natural phenomena by installing a digital radon detector in your house.  A radon detector displays current average radon readings just like your thermostat displays current temperature.  Plus, a radon detector sounds an alarm if the radon reading exceeds safe levels.  Every home should have a smoke detector, a carbon monoxide detector and a radon detector.

 

 

Real Estate Testing Overview

The EPA recommends that two short term radon home test kits be operated side-by-side. EPA also recommends testing for radon in the home in the lowest level which is currently suitable for occupancy, since a buyer may choose to live in a lower area of the home than that used by the seller. Home inspectors and radon testers typically use 2 test kits side-by-side and test in the lowest level that could conceivably be made into living space, an exercise room or play area.

The radon real estate testing guidelines developed by the EPA have been developed specifically to deal with the time-sensitive nature of home purchases and sales, and the potential for radon device interference.

If You Are Selling a Home...

EPA recommends that you test for radon in the home and if necessary, lower the levels of radon. Save the test results and all information you have about steps that were taken to fix any problems. This could be a positive selling point.

If You Are Buying a Home...

EPA recommends that you know what the indoor levels of radon in any home you consider buying. EPA recommends that you have a professional radon tester or home inspector do this for you.  If the home has a radon reduction system, ask the seller for the information they have about the system.

If you are having a new home built, there are features that can be incorporated during construction to reduce radon dangers.

We offer a short-term radon test (charcoal) for home inspectors, radon testers and homeowners, a long term radon test (alpha track), a radon in water test and a continuous reading digital radon detector for your home.  This doesn't take the place of annual retests but it can give you piece of mind all year long.  

Radon Test Kit Provider to the A Tech A Team Home Inspection Network

                    

     

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