Radon: the Secret Household Problem | Radon I (May 21, 2017)
There is a secret trouble maker for your health out there, it is called Radon. It is a radioactive gas, odorless, and colorless. It can cause serious health problems to your family. Yet 70% of households have done nothing about it.
Recently we have started to hear about this on the Internet and Television. It is not fake, it is true. In Minnesota over 80% of the existing houses have a problem and less than 10% have been dealt with. Every house that I’ve tested in the greater Minneapolis and St. Paul area has had elevated levels. Personally, I believe, 100% of the houses have this problem, no one just wants to admit it.
It occurs through a naturally decaying process anywhere there is a moderate warm and damp climate. Review the map attached. The red areas are all of those area of the country with possibilities of over 4.0 pCi/L levels. Those areas need to watched carefully and provided a means of mitigation. Even after mitigation, testing should be either continuous or annually determined.
The good news is that it can be easily dealt with. Radon sneaks into your house from the ground by differential pressure differences within the home. That is the pressure inside the structure is lower than the air pressure underneath. Therefore, air moves from high pressure areas to lower pressure areas. All houses can be effected either with or without basements. What houses in the north don’t have a basement? The easiest mitigation is just to lower the pressure underneath the home which cause air to flow from the inside to outside thus reversing the gas flow. Once outside, it just dilutes in the normal atmosphere till it’s not a danger any longer.
Radon levels of 4.0 pCi/L are considered not healthy. On all the mitigation I have done, reverse ventilating will cut that number by 75% or below 2.0 pCi/L.
It is simple:
All that is needed is a ventilation pipe going through each level of the foundation, connected with plastic PVC piping through a ventilating fan to a point approximately 2 feet above the living space roof. The concentrated Radon is then expelled out into the atmosphere. Sometimes a little tricky for pipe routing, but just get it outside. The roof is the best, but out is out. Keep in mind that the levels at the exhaust pipe can be 100X than the levels in the home. So get it high and test once in a while.
Don’t put this off, get yourself protected. There are kits at all the building supply outlets, or good companies that will provide the service for you. I recommend a continuous tester. It’s rapid and can be used in your house as well as lent to friends for quick testing.
You should measure initially for your levels and, as with all home inspection items, then once per year there after. I have been using a electronic measurement device – Pro Series 3, Radon detector. It gives you a digital reading in 48 hours after plugging it in and hanging it up. This type of detector is the best value since it’s fast to measure and can be reused over years for monitoring. Take measurement on all levels of the home. You will find the largest concentrations are in the basement areas and lowering as you move up in the home. Make sure that you measure in bedrooms especially rooms where children tend to congregate or sleep. Many children have playrooms in the basement, those areas are most important. The critical level, according to the EPA, is 4.0 pCi/L. The detector is set for an alarm point at this level. An audible alarm will sound when reached. A picture of my sample unit is shown on this page.
If needed, for $180., I can provide you with a unit for your peace of mind. Eventually, there will be a store on this blog, but now, I take PayPal and can ship within a week.
If there are any further questions ask me through Doug’s World, on this blog.
Future posts, will include suggestion diagrams on how to build a system.
Pro Series 3 - Detector