Basement Renovation and Radon Gas

Are you planning on doing an extensive basement renovation in the near future? It’s important to have your home tested for radon every 2+/- years as a normal home maintenance task. That said, when taking an unfinished basement and renovating to create a fabulous finished basement space where the family can hang out, a safe internal home environment is imperative.

Insulating the basement followed by installing sheetrock for walls and ceilings, sealing the foundation cracks, laying tile, laminate or even carpeting all make the space tighter. Tighter spaces means radon levels may increase as the radon gas has no way of exiting the home. Many homes bring in fresh air year round through the use of an HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation) or an ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilation) and this can assist to reduce the radon levels.

Prior to renovation, consider having your home tested for radon. EPA action level for mitigation is 4.0pCi/L yet the EPA has concern when levels are between 2.0 and 4.0pCi/L. The WHO (World Health Organization) says to fix your home at 2.7pCi/L. If radon levels are elevated prior to renovation, install a radon mitigation system and re-test post installation and post-renovation. If the radon levels are low prior to renovation, consider re-testing post-renovation to make sure the levels have remained on the low side and if not, install a radon mitigation system.

Test Your Home…Protect Your Family!

Relocating With Kids? Has Their School Been Tested for Radon?

https://www.epa.gov/radon/radon-schools

You were just awarded a fabulous new job position which requires you to move to a different state. A new home is purchased close to your work and your children are registered to start school in September. Your new home had a home inspection and a radon test performed which came back elevated. The home was fixed by installing a radon mitigation system and is now safe to move in.

Radon is an invisible colorless, odorless and tasteless cancer-causing, radioactive gas created during the natural breakdown of uranium in rocks and soils. It’s found in nearly all soils around the world.

Radon exposure is cumulative in a person’s life. Eliminating exposure to elevated radon levels is highly recommended since radon is a known Class A carcinogen proven to cause lung cancer. In fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today and is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers.

Testing for radon in schools should be mandatory nationwide however it is still under the auspices of local government to make that decision. Children being exposed at a young age to elevated radon levels remains in the body and continuous exposure can have negative health results.

Radon moves up through the ground and seeps into buildings entry points are cracks and other holes in the foundation, drainage or sump openings or poorly sealed pipes. Buildings trap radon inside, where it can accumulate. Any building can have a radon problem, not just those built on soil and rock with high geologic potential for radon release.

You fixed your home for elevated radon levels! Have you asked if your child’s school has been tested for radon? Have you asked if your workplace has been tested for radon? If your child’s school has elevated radon levels and they are in school all day followed by an extended day aftercare program, they are being exposed unnecessarily. It is an easy process to “fix” a building for elevated radon levels by a professional mitigator.

Be Proactive! This is your child’s health…a simple testing procedure can identify if your child’s school has elevated radon concentrations. Talk to other parents and create a plan to approach administrators. It affects not just your child but the school staff and full student body.

Test your home, school, workplace for radioactive radon gas today!

Radon…Back to Basics

Radon, an insidious Class A Carcinogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas. Also known as soil gas, radon is the natural breakdown of uranium in rock and soil. Radon in and of itself is not a danger however the serious health concern of lung cancer along with other potential cancers comes from when radon decays which releases it’s radioactive properties. This decay process happens in 3.8 days.

Radon is a concern when levels rise to dangerous concentrations in homes and any building for that matter. Radon is all over the world and not a concern outside as it is diluted. The concern happens when radon becomes trapped in a home with limited ways to get out.

EPA action level for radon mitigation in the United States is currently 4.0 pCi/L. This is a figure that is a guideline for real estate transactions. The EPA has concern when levels are between 2.0 pCi/L and 4.0 pCi/L. The World Health Organization (WHO) says to “fix” your home at 2.7 pCi/L.

The only way to know if you have a radon issue in your home is to test. If elevated, the issue can be rectified by installing a radon mitigation system to remove the excess radon from a home. Radon mitigation is the least expensive home maintenance repair for the maximum health benefits.

Test Your Home Today…Protect Your Family!

Homeowner Radon Testing…What You Need to Know

We frequently hear about radon testing during a real estate transaction but what if you are not selling you home…Radon still exists as do the dangers associated with it. A homeowner may not want to pay more money for a radon test when they feel they can do it themselves. When performed properly, a homeowner can obtain a valid test by following a few rules.

Short term radon tests take 2-7 days and are typically performed for real estate transactions due to the speed of obtaining results. Long term tests will give you a realistic result of what the radon levels look like are over a longer time period of 90 days to 12 months. The long term test should be placed in the lowest lived in level of the home that is most frequented. Only use EPA approved testing devices!

Does it mater where the tests are placed? ABSOLUTELY! Make sure the device is placed where it will not be disturbed. It should be away from direct sunlight, draft and areas of high humidity. Fireplace chimney flues should be closed. The device should be away from drafts, vents, doors, windows, and furnaces.

The device measuring the radon should minimally be at least 20 inches from the floor, at least 12 inches from the ceiling and no closer than 4 inches from other objects in the testing field. In addition, no closer than 12 inches from an exterior wall and preferably 2-3 feet away and minimally 3 feet away from exterior windows.

Knowing how to interpret the radon test results if a homeowner is testing can be assisted by a radon professional and/or the lab may be able to offer some explanation as well. EPA action level is 4.0pCi/L yet the EPA has concern when levels are seen between 2.0 and 4.0pCi/L. The WHO (World Health Organization) says to fix a property at 2.7pCi/L.

Whether you hire a radon professional to test or you choose to test for radon on your own, the importance is that you are being proactive to protect yourself and your family from the dangers of radon gas.

Test Your Home, School & Workplace…Protect Your Family!

Selling Your Home and the Radon Levels Came Back Elevated…Now What!

You are a seller with a contract on your home, have had a radon mitigation system in place for many years and your buyer’s radon test came back elevated. How can that be? There is a radon mitigation system in place!

OK, as a seller, you purchased your home 15+ years ago, had a radon test performed at that time and due to increased radon levels the previous homeowner installed the appropriate system to “fix” the home. Was the home re-tested for radon concentrations post-mitigation years ago? Has the home been tested for radon at any point within those 15+ years?

Although EPA action level for radon is 4.0 pCi/L, the EPA has concern when levels are between 2.0 pCi/L and 4.0 pCi/L. In addition, as a point of reference, the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for mitigation is 2.7 pCi/L. 

It is highly recommended to test a home for elevated radon levels every two +/- years and that includes home with a radon mitigation system installed. We live on a planet and the earth is always changing hence the radon levels can be variable.

As a seller who has been informed your home has elevated radon levels, act to correct it as soon as possible. Your radon system may need a replacement fan as the original fan may have outlasted it’s full mechanical life or you may need an additional fan added to the existing fan or possibly may require an entire new radon mitigation system. The only way to know is to bring in a professional radon mitigation firm who can assess the functionality of the mechanics. Once corrected, re-testing is the only way to know if the system is now fully functioning with reduced radon levels for a safe internal environment.

Test Your Home…Protect Your Family

What Types of Properties Should Be Tested for Radon?

What types of properties should be tested for a Class A carcinogen such as radioactive radon? ALL properties should be tested for the safety of the occupants. Radon enters buildings through cracks and fissures in the foundation and builds up inside a structure which is a concern when levels are elevated.

SCHOOLS: Students, teachers and support staff spend hours, days and cumulative years in schools throughout the day and evening for both day time education, after school programs, aftercare, events and night time education.

HOSPITALS: Most laboratory facilities in hospitals are found in the lowest level of the building amongst other services such as maintenance offices, some X-ray or MRI services plus the hospital morgue where physicians and technicians address these services.

HOMES: Always test for radon where you live! Protect yourself and your family to ensure your home is safe environment.

TENANTS: If you rent, you have rights! If you are on a first floor or a basement unit, request that your landlord test your space for radon gas and fix the property if levels are elevated so you can live safe in your space. If your landlord will not test for you, buy an EPA approved radon kit and test yourself. If elevated, you can demand the landlord correct the problem and re-test to ensure the levels are safe.

WORK: If you work in a building that never opens the windows and has the same air recirculating without bringing in fresh air, the general air quality should be tested no matter what. That being said, if you work in a basement, first floor or slab on grade office, as an employee, request that the space be tested for radioactive radon gas.

ANY building that is closed to the exterior should be tested for radon. Long term exposure to elevated levels radon can lead to lung cancer. Radon has a half-life of 3.8 days and if not exhaled in that time frame, radon’s daughter cells or progeny can become trapped in the lining of the lungs, where the radiation can be emitted. It is this radiation that can damage the lungs which can lead to lung cancer.

Test ALL Buildings…be proactive for your health. Radon induced lung cancer is one of the most preventable diseases if action is taken. You won’t know if you have a problem unless you test!

Radon Testing for Multi Level Homes

Most radon tests are performed in the basement as that is the area in a home that is closest to the ground. Radon enters homes through cracks and fissures in foundations, opening around pipes, drains, sump pumps and crawl spaces. This happens because the soil pressure surrounding a home’s foundation is typically higher than the pressure inside a home. This pressure differential can cause radon to literally be sucked into the home as though a vacuum cleaner was placed on top of the structure.

If the style of the house has multiple levels as seen in many contemporary homes, the radon testing process must address those levels. Most likely there will be at least two levels that are slab on grade in direct contact with the ground. Testing the levels with direct ground contact is imperative for an accurate assessment of the home.

Some homes will have a traditional basement yet there may also be extensions with either no basement and built slab on grade or there may be a crawl space just below the living space. Crawl spaces are notorious for radon build up . Testing the living space that is in the extension built slab on grade or with a crawl space below is important since there is no buffer of a basement and radon can enter directly into your living space.

Test Your Home…Protect Your Family!

Radon and the Need for Re-Testing

Radon, an insidious Class A carcinogen gets into homes, schools and buildings which can become trapped resulting in radioactive exposure many are unaware of. If radon levels are elevated, the occupants are at risk of increased exposure.

The way to fix a building with elevated radon levels is by installing a sub-slab depressurization radon mitigation system to remove the radon. How do you know the levels are safe once the system is installed? Re-test the property 24-48 hours after the system is active and running.

Unfortunately, may homeowners never re-test post mitigation. The only way to know if a system is working properly is to re-test the property after initial installation and every 2+/- years following installation. If levels are still elevated post mitigation, additional suction points may need to be added or possibly a larger fan. You won’t know unless you re-test! Some homes may require more than one system and this can be dependent on if there is one foundation slab, split foundations, large extensions or size of the home.

For a safe internal home or building environment, testing for radon every 2+/- years and re-testing when appropriate is imperative to keep radon concentrations below EPA action level of 4.0pCi/L and preferably, below the EPA’s concern range of 2.0-4.0pCi/L.

Test Your Home…Protect Your family!

Radon Testing Costs

Testing for radioactive radon gas is not an expensive process and will depend on the the type of test that is performed. If you have a low budget yet want to make sure your family is safe, there are many states that offer free test kits from the Department of Public Health.

Continuous Radon Monitors also known as CRM, is an active method of testing and on average, costs approximately $175-$225 per test depending on where in the country you live. These costs are for the Northeast of the United States. CRM’s are analyzed by the provider and results are provided within hours of completion.

Passive testing using canisters, vials or pouches can run approximately $70-$110 and are analyzed by a lab due to the contents of the medium. The results are provided after the lab has completed their analyses which can take several days.

The small fee it costs to test for radon is in return huge for of peace of mind and the health of your family. If your home tests elevated for radon gas, fix your home and save a life.

Test Your Home…Protect Your Family!

Sellers Pre-Sale Inspection and Radon Testing

Are you a seller planning to market your home for sale with hopes for top dollar and a smooth transaction? Have you done everything to make your home appear in it’s best light? Paint, some light renovation or maybe major renovation, spruced up the landscaping, even purchased all new appliances and are ready to hit the market. What’s missing?

A buyer coming into a home has questions and many of these questions can be answered by having a seller’s pre-sale home inspection. This includes testing for radon either by the home inspector, a certified radon tester or do it yourself with an EPA approved radon testing device.

If radon levels are elevated, either a radon mitigation system can be installed, re-tested with results provided to any potential buyer or the results can be shared with the buyer to make their own decision going forward. As a seller, you are being proactive to share the health of the house, not just the physical condition.

Test Your Home…Protect Your Family!