Category Archives: About Radon

what is radon? how was it discovered? how it effects your health? … and more

Pros & Cons of Various House Foundations

Slab, Crawlspace or Basement? When building a new home, which foundation is the best choice? I offer the pros & cons of the typical three choices.

Slab:

Pros:
– Least expensive to build
– No moisture/humidity to deal with under sub-floor
– Easy access for handicapped or senior persons, since very close to ground level

Cons:
– Hard surface, takes a toll on your body/joints
– Difficult to run additional wires/pipes
– HVAC typically located in the attic (unconditioned space)
– A leak in a water supply line in the slab is very expensive to fix
– Entrance at ground level, not as eye appealing
– High likelihood of radon issue (can be easily mitigated)
– More prone to wood destroying insect issues, since close to ground

Crawlspace:

Pros:
– Able to install additional wires/piping easily if needed
– Wood floor structure is softer than concrete
– Entrance higher off ground, more eye appealing
– Easy access for repairs
– Less likely to have a radon issue (on ventilated crawlspaces)

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Cons:
– Moisture issues (water & humidity) are a major issues, creates fungus growth & rot
– Easy access for unwanted pests
– HVAC in unconditioned space

Basement:

Pros:
– Able to install additional wires/piping easily if needed
– Wood floor structure is softer than concrete
– Easy access for repairs
– Entrance higher off ground, more eye appealing
– HVAC is located in conditioned space (more energy efficient)
– Additional storage/workshop
– Inexpensive additional square footage, can be finished at a later time
– Increased re-sale value of home & increased buyer appeal
– You can build on a sloping grade
– Provides shelter during extreme weather (tornado’s, hurricane’s, etc)

Cons:
– Most expensive to build (compared to a slab or crawlspace)
– Need a sloping lot to build a walkout basement
– Higher likelihood of radon issue (can be easily mitigated)

Mac has remodeled many old homes, been employed in several different construction trades & is a major do-it-yourselfer. He currently owns a home inspection company and has been inspecting homes for many years which is where my experience is most relevant to the proper way to build a home. To learn more about building your dream home, visit my website, http://www.house-building-tips.net

Author: Mac Barlow
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Why Indoor Air Quality Control Can Be a Deal Maker Or Breaker For “Green” Home Buyers

What value do home buyers put on indoor air quality? I think I know the answer. But before I weigh in, let’s pretend you are searching for a home to buy. You find two houses in the same neighborhood and each looks good. Both are about the same price and both fit your family’s needs. But one home has an invisible advantage that may save you thousands of dollars in health care costs.

The hypothetical home I’m talking about has excellent indoor air quality. I can guarantee and prove as much, because we serviced and certified the home. The other home is a different matter. Perhaps it has passed a state-mandated radon test, but beyond that there are no assurances that the indoor air quality is acceptable and will remain that way.

Now here’s the big question: how much more would you pay for the home that comes with a guarantee of excellent indoor air quality?

In many cases, the answer today is probably zero. Here lies the problem, because despite increased health care costs and more awareness of contaminants in our dwellings, as a society we have yet to find a way to promote this potential increase in the market value of a clean air home. Knowing the connection between proper lower level moisture control and air quality, we as waterproofing contractors need to bring this link to the public.

My colleague Richard Walter, the CEO and owner of A+ Engineering Construction in Gardnerville, Nevada, knows what I know: indoor air quality doesn’t sell – yet. He also can tell you that following state-mandated tests doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a long healthy life.

“My concern is the government has taken an inadequate approach. In Nevada I can call the University of Reno and ask for a radon test today. But that doesn’t mean my house will be safe two years from now.”

Walter believes our nation suffers from an epidemic of poor quality of air in residences. That’s because too often home buyers don’t test for mold, a serious enemy of indoor air quality caused by moisture, or they don’t see moisture remediation as an essential, ongoing task.

“Our company takes the approach that all homes are contaminated because we now add more insulation and close up our homes tighter and tighter as we become more energy efficient. But at same time we’re polluting the houses we live in by allowing excess moisture (greater than 50% relative humidity) in the basement and crawl spaces to exist.” We are also not effectively preventing pollutants, such as radon gas and other soil gases, from entering the house via the porous basement floor and/or unsealed crawlspace.

Basement waterproofing contractors and crawl space sealing and insulation installers can help to educate homeowners. In addition, housing contractors might be willing to use indoor air control techniques in basements and crawl spaces when building new homes – but only if they believe home buyers will pay the extra money for a safer environment. Even if the necessary steps are not taken during initial construction, basement waterproofers should promote that the damage to air quality can be addressed with after-construction methods.

I salute the Green Movement. It has turned an important corner. Public awareness and common sense have merged. Now Green innovators can finally enjoy a win-win market advantage. Meanwhile, I’m hopeful that one day indoor air quality will be a deal maker or breaker. But how will I know?

Picture this: I’m finally ready to retire, sell my house and move to Aspen. I put my family home on the market and ask for a firm $285,000. Then a knowledgeable young husband and wife pull me aside and whisper, “We’ll give you $300,000 if you can guarantee the indoor air quality.” When that happens, we’ll know our message has been received.

Lou Cole is president of Emecole, a full provider of products and solutions for basement waterproofing contractors and crawl space sealing and insulation installers. Visit http://www.emecole.com or contact him at lcole@emecole.com or write to 50 E. Montrose Dr.P.O. Box 7486, Romeoville, IL 60446

Author: Louis Cole
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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How radon was discovered

Radon was discovered in 1900 by a German chemist Friedrich E. Dorn. He called it radium emanation. What he discovered was radon-222, while a scarcer isotope, radon-220, was actually observed first, in 1899, by the British scientist, R.B. Owens, and the New Zealand scientist, Ernest Rutherford. In 1984 a nuclear plant worker in Pennsylvania discovered radioactivity on his clothing while exiting his place of work through a radiation detector. The source of the radiation was determined to be radon decay products on his clothing originating from his home. It wasn’t until then that the medical community became aware of the possible extent of radon related problems.

Radon – an introduction

Radon - 222
Radon - 222

Rn is the chemical symbol for radon. It is a radioactive gas that  occurs naturally and can be found in soils, rock, and water throughout the world. It has numerous different isotopes, but radon-220, and -222 are the most common. Radon is a gas that is created in the soils where uranium and radium are found. Since these elements can be found everywhere in the world any building has the potential for elevated levels of radon. The more uranium found in the soil, the higher the potential for elevated radon levels within that building.

Because radon is an inert (or noble) gas, meaning that it does not react or combine chemically with other substances except under certain special conditions, it can move up through the soil into the atmosphere, where it is easily diluted and presents little concern. However, when radon enters a building, it can build up and become a health concern

You cannot see or smell radon, and there is no way that your body can sense the presence of radon; however, it can have a detrimental effect on the inhabitants by increasing their likelihood of developing lung cancer.

How is radon created?

radioactive decay of uranium to radon
radioactive decay of uranium to radon

The presence of Radon in the atmosphere or water is not due to any man made process or other source of pollution, but is mainly derived from uranium deposits in the soil. Uranium (Uranium-238) decays into a stable form of Lead through a series of steps which include the break down of uranium into radium (Radium-226) , which in turn decays into radon gas (Radon-222). Radium-226 and Radon-222 are present in almost all rock, soil and water.

How radon gets into your home!!!

how radon enters a home
how radon enters a home

Since radium 226 can be found in low concentrations in almost all rock and soil, it is not a question of “if”, but “how much” radon you really have. Radon is generated in rock and soil and it escapes into the atmosphere through cracks and spaces between the rocks and soil. This results in an average outdoor radon concentration of about 0.4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter of air). At these concentrations there is no real danger. However, if radon is allowed to seep into homes and buildings through cracks and holes in the foundations and walls, the concentration can build up to much higher levels, at which point research suggests there is a reason for concern.

The average indoor radon concentration is about 1.3 pCi/l. Radon concentrations in a home can very depending on several factors including; house design, soil conditions, local geology, and the weather, such as high or low atmospheric pressures, and warm or cold climate. For example, indoor radon levels increase substantially during the winter months. As indoor temperatures increase relative to the outside temperatures, a thermal effect occurs. The rising warm air within a building is displaced by cold denser outside air, some of which seeps in through the foundation cracks, vents, and holes from the underlying soils.

Furthermore, exhaust fans inside the house can create a lower (negative) pressure inside the home relative to the surrounding soil and air, and radon can actually be drawn into the building.