Tag Archives: radon mitigation

Radon Linked With Cancer: How to Ensure Your Home is Radon-Free

Radon is responsible for at least 15,000 to 20,000 getting lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. In fact, radon exposure is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. This tragedy is compounded by the fact that both radon testing and radon mitigation are simple and inexpensive. While nationally 1 in 15 homes may show dangerous levels of radon, the average levels in many parts of the mid-Atlantic may be two to three times higher than this. There are no immediate symptoms of radon exposure and you cannot see, taste, feel, or smell radon. Cancer can show up five to 25 years after exposure and about 12% of lung cancer diagnoses are caused by radon.

Where Radon Comes From

Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally in the soil. It is a byproduct of uranium decay. Radon can be found in-new homes, older homes, homes in need of repair, homes without basements; there is no pattern. Your neighbor’s home might be radon-free, while your home has dangerous levels. Radon can come from the ground beneath a home, well water, and various building materials. The only way to know is to test your home, which can be done for less than $30 with a simple kit available at most hardware stores.

Before Buying a Home:

  • Ask the seller for a copy of the home’s radon test results. If the home has not been tested, ask your home inspector to include a radon test in his report.
  • Make sure that the Radon Testing Checklist items were met.
  • Make sure that the last test was recent, at least within the past 2 years.
  • Make sure that the seller has performed the test in the lowest, livable level of the house. This usually means the basement, but if the home has no basement, test in the lowest level of the house.
  • Ask that the home be tested again if any changes have been made to the home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system since the last test was done.
  • Should you decide to renovate an unfinished part of the home, test for radon before work begins. It is much easier to install a radon system in an unfinished room. If your test results are close to the EPA action level (4.0 pCi/l), test the space again after work is completed.

When renovating an unfinished part of a home or building a new home, look to minimize radon presence.

To Minimize Radon When Building a New Home:

  • The integrity of the slab should be maintained at all times.
  • Sump pits need to be installed with a sealed cover.
  • Use a gas tight radon drain for all floor drains.
  • When framing, run a radon vent pipe from the basement to the high part of the attic. This pipe should not be to close to the attic eaves, so that a radon fan can be easily added at a later date if needed.
  • If a sump pump is not required for the basement or if the construction is slab on grade, have drain tile looped around the perimeter of the inside of the foundation and have it terminate with a 3 inch PVC “rough in.” A 3″ PVC vent pipe is sufficient for spaces that are less than 2,000 square feet. Use a 4″ PVC “rough in” and a 4″ PVC vent pipe for spaces larger than 2,000 square feet.

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How to Measure Radon

Homeowners can test for radon themselves. Order a radon test kit and when finished, make sure to return the radon test to the laboratory with all the required information filled out. Be sure to follow the test kit instructions to the letter. One of the most common mistakes is over or under exposing the devices. A radon test result of 4 picocuries (a picocurie is one trillionth of a curie and measures radioactivity) per liter or higher is considered to be a high radon level. The average radon level in homes is 1.3pCi/L and .4pCi/L outdoors. The 1.3 pCi/l national average includes homes in many regions that do not have radon issues. Keep in mind that the 4.0 pCi/l standard was established as a matter of practicality, not safety. EPA officials at the time were unsure whether the technology and methods employed in 1984 were capable of reducing radon levels further. Recent studies show a significant risk of lung cancer when exposed at levels between 2 and 4 pCi/l. EPA recommends reducing radon levels to below 2pCi/l if possible.

If your home does have Radon

Costs to hire a radon removal professional to lower radon levels average about $800 to $1,200. Homes with crawl spaces or without gravel under the slab cost more. Many radon removal configurations exist and include sub slab depressurization (SSD), SSD with a crawl space, and air exchangers. The work required for a successful radon mitigation are beyond the skills of most untrained homeowners.

What to Consider When Hiring a Radon Abatement or Mitigation Firm

  • Ask to see proof of their certifications from National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) and/or the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB).
  • Contractors must also be licensed as home-improvement contactors in each state they wish to work. The District of Columbia is an exception in the case of radon work.
  • Make sure the contractor is fully insured.
  • Have them describe all of the work they will be doing.
  • Sign a contract and see that it includes all promises that were made verbally.
  • Don’t pay for work until it is complete. Down payments are rarely required.
  • Ask for at least a 20-year transferable warranty.

Radon Abatement Services is a radon mitigation contractor [http://www.radonrepair.com/mitigation/] serving the greater Maryland, DC, and Virginia region. Contact them online for help with lowering radon levels [http://www.radonrepair.com/contact.html]. Call 301-718-6200 or visit their website at http:// http://www.radonrepair.com/ for more information.

Author: Robin Meyer
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Get to Know the Radon in Your Home

Radon isn’t exactly a criminal, but it is estimated to have been the cause of 20,000 deaths a year. Although radon is a gas, it is a convicted killer, it enters your home unexpectedly during the day or night, and like a thief it steals what is most precious: our lives.

Why would anyone want to live with radon? How could someone just allow it to fester inside a home?

Radon is sneaky, like a burglar, it will find the best way to enter your home without you knowing. So, just like a burglar stalks the home for an open window or unlocked door, radon does the same. In fact, radon is the scariest kind of burglar: it’s invisible, odorless, and tasteless. You will never know it’s there until you’re in the hospital.

How Radon Enters

Are you wondering how exactly radon can enter into your house, it’s easier than you might think. A new home is not automatically radon-proof. Although homeowners want to think that new is better, there is also a blinding effect of purchasing new items. It’s almost instinct for someone to assume that nothing could be wrong or go wrong with a brand new product. But, it happens.

Within our homes there are cracks, bumps, and bruises that contractors have attempted to cover up in one way or another. Unfortunately, radon will find a way.

Here are some of the ways radon can meander its way into your home:

Pores and cracks in concrete
Joints: floor-wall, mortar
Openings in block walls
Water from wells
Spaces between walls and hollow foundation

How to Get Rid of the Unfriendly Guest

First of all it is important to note that not every home will have unhealthy amounts of radon gas. But, every homeowner needs to have his/her home tested because that’s the only way to detect radon.

Once a professional radon specialist has indicated that your home has unhealthy levels of radon and needs some mitigation, then it is time to understand the mitigation process.

Every home is different, which means the solution to each home’s radon problems will be unique to every home. The mitigation system will be customized to meet your home’s needs, and is dependent upon the foundation design– basement, crawl space or slab.

The actual mitigation procedures are not very complex, but they are necessary to ridding your home of its unhealthy radon level.

Depressurize Soil to Redirect the Radon

To reverse the stack effect, your radon specialist will depressurize your soil. Through the stack effect, radon gas is taken from the air in your basement and transported throughout the rest of your home. Your radon expert can redirect this air by suctioning the radon from the earth and transferring it through a PVC pipe. This pipe can go through or outside your home. The best way to get rid of the gas is by connecting the end of the pipe to an attic fan or the top of your home. This way, the pipe will be running from the basement to the outside of the top of your home.

All cracks or other problem areas will be sealed with a urethane caulking compound; this prevents radon from re-entering your home.

The best way to end such a project is by completing a checklist. This is simply done to make sure the system meets the US Environmental protection Agency Radon Mitigation Standards. All products that have been installed or labeled will be checked for accuracy and efficiency.

In about 30 days you should expect your radon specialist to perform a retesting of the installation system to assure you that your home is healthy and your system is working properly.
Finding a Radon Mitigator Near You

Samantha Walton currently works as a web content writer for home improvement sites. She’s a college graduate with a B.A. in communication and a concentration in public relations. She’s aspiring to one day further her education with a seminary degree. Her experience ranges from internships in marketing and public relations, content writing for local television broadcasts, to writing and editing newsletters, fliers, and other content for her local church.

When your health is on the line you want to seek the assistance from professionals you can trust. With National Radon Defense you can expect professional and friendly support. NRD knows the severe effects of radon in a home, and understands the fear and unrest it may cause. They want to deliver you with the answers to your questions and solutions to your home’s radon issues. Expect more when you contact NRD. For radon testing in your area, contact them today.

Author: Samantha Walton
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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The Top 5 Ways to Keep Radon Out of Your Family’s Home

1. Get a radon test performed
Testing homes and businesses for radon is one of the best ways to tell how much radon is coming into your home through cracks and crevices. A radon test tells you numerically what the risk in your home is. And since our kids, pets and ourselves breathe radon gas in and out constantly, it makes sense that more and more people are getting the test done to make sure there is as little radon in their home as possible. After all, if you could prevent lung cancer, wouldn’t you?

2. Get a professional opinion
Even if you buy a home radon test kit yourself, getting a professional opinion is always a good idea. The reason is that first, a radon kit must be done scientifically. Any moving air, pets or kids going by can skew the test results so it’s best to have your results verified by a professional radon mitigation contractor. Plus, they know tricks and things to look out for because they work to get rid of radon all the time. Most of us don’t have that expertise and knowledge to work off of.

If needed, radon mitigators will advise you on what measures can be taken to rid your home of the radioactive gas. They can tell you what needs to be done specifically to make your home and family less susceptible to the effects of radon gas.

3. Re-test your home
Any responsible radon mitigation professional will test your home for an initial radon reading. But, the best radon experts will perform checkups on your home’s levels to ensure your home’s radon levels are still safe. This is much like a scientific experiment, where the scientists will take measurements before and after the “action” has taken place. This allows them to provide a numerical value to represent the radon changes in your home. This matters because it dictates whether anything needs to be done to the home, to get the radon readings as low as possible.

4. Seal it up
A common practice homeowners and contractors will take on is to seal the home’s cracks to keep radon out. This helps because it cuts down the amount of air that passes in and out of the home. The only issue with this is that homes are chock full of cracks and crevices and it’s almost impossible to make sure they are all sealed. Even if you did seal 100% of them, radon could still be present in the home. This is why crack sealing is a great complement to other radon mitigation practices but should not be the only line of defense.

5. Get a radon detector
As the dangers of radon are now talked about more than years past, companies have made radon detectors easier for homeowners to find and use. Radon detectors can help alert you to high radon levels in a home. There are both short-term and long-term detectors available on the market. Radon detectors are a great way to get an immediate reading on your home or office and can also be used after radon mitigation to ensure that levels are consistent – if something changes in the amount of radon, the detector should detect that and give a different reading.

If you’re looking for a radon mitigation professional in your area to perform radon gas testing in your home, you should contact National Radon Defense. It’s a network of radon business professionals that you can trust.

Author: Marianne Snyder
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Subslab Depressurization

Sub-slab depressurization or sub-slab suction is probably the most reliable and effective radon mitigation technique. It involves an insertion of a pipe (usually 4 inches in diameter) through the floor slab into the soil or gravel under the foundation. This can be done either from inside the house, or inserted under the slab from the outside. As a side note, this technique is used for houses with a basement or slab-on-grade foundation. If your house has a crawl space, a different technique is used.

Just to give you a quick idea of what’s involved, you’ll need to create a hole (aka suction point) in your slab (approx 4 inches in diameter), remove as much soil and/or gravel from under the foundation as possible, put in place a pipe running out from this suction point to a suitable location, where a special exhaust fan will generate vacuum pressure that will draw radon out from underneath the slab to the outside, thus preventing the radon gas from entering your home. Right, you may say, and I know, because that’s what I said when I first read about this a few years back. Believe me, if you do this right, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t, you’ll see a remarkable decrease in your radon levels, which will often be accompanied by a fresher indoor air quality as well (this is one positive side effect of installing this system).

Now, there are different ways of going about this, but I am going to go through one example … in my opinion probably the most likely solution for the majority of home owners (remember, this is not for a house with a crawl space)

SUCTION POINT

My best advice for you is to pick the spot most convenient to run the pipe out of the basement and start there with a hole. I do think that a suction point near the footer tends to produce better results because there is often more settling there, but really that is not of the greatest importance. You should definitely determine where the pipe will have to exit the basement before you start drilling holes in your floor. Also make sure you are aware of potential drain and water pipes, and possible electrical conduits or in-floor heating.

I am going to assume that if you plan on doing this yourself, you don’t need me to tell you how to make a hole in your slab. Well anyway, one way is to drill a series of holes and then chisel and hammer out the cement chunk. The hole should be slightly larger than the 4” pipe you’ll be using.

Once you have the hole made, it’s time to dig. This is probably the worst part of the job, and it could be relatively easy or very hard, depending on what lies underneath. For best results try removing as much as possible. You are trying to create a sort of a vacuum chamber under the slab that will draw in radon and moisture from underneath the entire foundation, so this can make or break your mitigation system. No matter what you have underneath the slab, be it sand, gravel, soil, or any combination of these, try to get 20-30 gallons out, and more if possible, specially for tight soils. REMEMBER this will be the difference between a mitigation system that works and one that doesn’t.

When we did our house, I spent hours scraping away buckets of dirt and gravel till my forearms were bruised. I managed to get about 30 gallons out, and let me tell you, it was worth it.

RUNNING THE PIPES

If you have an attached garage, I would recommend going from the basement, into the garage, and then to the attic, as this is the most feasible solution. Your second choice is to go through the floor above, perhaps through a closet or some other point where the pipe is either not visible or will be easily concealed, and then into the attic where your suction fan would be. The third choice is taking the pipe outside of your house. Personally, I think an outside system should be avoided all together unless there aren’t any other options. Even if it takes a little more effort on your part, try and stick to the indoors for your piping and fan system. Colder climates especially will result in a lot of condensation that can reduce the life expectancy of your radon exhaust fan. You can purchase a condensation bypass kit if you mount your fan outside to prevent water and condensation from ruining your motor.

Back to work… Now that you have your suction point ready, you can use a coupler and secure it using a foam backer (but really you can also use whatever you see fit). Once all your pipes are in place and secure you should caulk this joint for an airtight seal. For the piping, you can use any type of good PVC piping that will fit into whatever you’re using, and make sure that you measure well before you glue your PVC to your elbows and joints. In our home we used a 4 inch sewer pipe and glueless joints/elbows (they have a double rubber seal on the inside to form a water and air proof seal, and the advantage is that you can separate the pipes if you mess up. The only downside is that they are a few bucks more, and really hard to put on, or take off for that matter).

THE FAN

Contrary to what you might be thinking, you cannot just use any ordinary fan for this job. If you are going to invest your time and energy into this, you have to do things right, and you’ll need a special fan that is capable of creating vacuum pressure under the slab without the fan burning out, that can withstand the elements, cold, and moisture, and that will do the job quietly and efficiently.

For your safety, you exhaust Fan has to be located outside of your home’s living space. This leaves you with an option to put your fan in the garage, the attic, or outside. Furthermore, the pipe leading from your fan to the outside must terminate above the plane of the roof, and must be no closer than 10 feet horizontally from windows that open. This is to minimize the possibility of radon re-entering your home.

RP145 fan with couplings and  Dynameter
RP145 Fan by Radonaway and a manometer on a 4 inch 100mm sewer pipe

The size and price of your fan will vary and depends on the square footage of your foundation. The type of soil  also plays a role in the fan decision, as you might need a more powerful fan for tighter soils.

As an example if your foundation is anywhere up to 1200 Square feet and your sub-soil is a gravel mixture, an RP145 by RadonAway should be quite sufficient. Most retailers will have a chart or table of different fans, ranging from 3” to 8” duct systems, the latter being used for large projects, such as a school.

Finally no matter where you end up placing your fan, you will need to bring it power. For this, you might need to call an electrician, or not, depending on whether you have a plug-in nearby. Luckily, my father is an electrician, and so we have our fan wired in directly to a switch for ease of maintenance. As you might have guessed we have the RP145 fan installed in the attic above our garage, and it is virtually silent.

As a side note, each fan comes with a suggested maximum operating pressure. This basically informs you how well your entire mitigation system is performing, how much pressure is being created by the fan, and whether you have sufficient airflow under the slab. To keep an eye on your system and to see that it is functioning nominally, I strongly suggest getting something like this Installation Kit for RadonAway System . It includes a manometer which  basically tells you what pressure your system is holding. It’s inexpensive, easy to install, and well worth it. These kits also include couplings, which are intended to tie in your fan to the PVC piping(shown in the picture with the RP145 Fan) and I’d recommend using these, as they allow not only for a perfect tight fit with your piping, but also easy future fan replacement or maintenance.

FINAL NOTE

Our radon levels in the basement were always hovering at around 25 and up to 31 pci/L, and around 20 pci/L on the main floor, during the cold winter months. Summers were ranging from 8 to 12 pci/L. After we installed the subslab mitigation system our levels are averaging 1.4 during the coldest months, and 0.4 to 0.8 pci/L in the summer. The picture to the right is from our own Safety Siren Pro 3 Radon Detector. Click on it to see a larger version. It was taken on January 31, 2010. We have been using it for over 2 years now, and had several of our neighbours borrow it for some time as well. If you find that you have  a radon problem, you are probably better off getting one of these instead of the charcoal or alpha track test kits that need to be sent in to a lab.  These are not cheap, they go for US $130.00, but they are very accurate and convenient to use.

If you are interested in prices or would like to purchase one, here are a couple of suppliers in the States. They also provide a lot of additional information about their products.

Radon Zone – These guys are offering  free shipping, unfortunately they only ship to the States (sorry Canadian customers).  They supply other, short and long term, radon test kits, as well as the Safety Siren Pro 3.

National Safety Products – These guys dont offer free shipping but they do ship to Canada, and they do offer discounts if you plan on purchasing more than one item. They also supply other radon products.

I wish you all the best and hope you get those radon levels down just like we did.

House Pressurization and Ventilation

Pressurization uses a fan to blow air into the basement or living area from either upstairs or outdoors. The goal here is to create enough pressure (positive pressure) at the lowest level indoors, such as in a basement, to prevent radon from entering the house. The effectiveness of this technique can be limited by house construction and climate. In order to maintain enough pressure to keep radon out, the doors and windows at the lowest level must not be left opened, except for normal entry and exit.  Blowing air out of the basement to reduce radon levels, although seemingly a good idea, might actually increase the flow of radon into your home. As you blow air out, a vacuum effect is created (negative pressure) which will cause greater influx of radon into your basement from the surrounding soil.

Another form of ventilation is natural ventilation, which is achieved simply by opening doors and windows at the lower levels of your home. Natural ventilation mixes outdoor air with the radon contaminated indoor air, thus reducing overall radon levels.

There are some obvious drawbacks to both of the above techniques. Once you close your windows and doors, or turn off your fan that blows air into your basement, radon concentrations most often return to previous values within about 12 hours. Furthermore, as a result of more outdoor air being introduced into the home, you might see moisture intrusions, loss of conditioned air, and energy penalties, particularly during the winter months.

Consequently, both of these techniques are regarded as only temporary approaches to radon reduction and should only be considered after the other, more-common techniques (such as sub-floor mitigation) have not sufficiently reduced radon levels.

Another form of mechanical ventilation can be accomplished by installing a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), sometimes referred to as air-to-air heat exchanger.  HRVs ventilate by introducing outdoor air while using the heated or cooled air being exhausted to warm or cool the incoming air. The advantage of an HRV system over other ventilation techniques is that besides supplying balanced ventilation, a HRV will reduce the energy penalty associated with providing more ventilation to a home. As an added benefit, an HRV can improve air quality in houses that have other indoor pollutants.

Sealing cracks and openings

Dranjer D-R2 floor drain
Dranjer D-R2 floor drain

Sealing the cracks in the foundation and other openings, such as drainage and sump pump sinks, is a basic part of most approaches to radon reduction. This technique reduces the flow of radon into your home thereby making other radon reduction techniques more effective and cost-efficient, and also reduces the loss of conditioned air. This technique, however, has its limitations. It is difficult to identify and permanently seal all the places where radon can enter, and if you have a finished basement, this is almost impossible without extensive and possibly expensive work.  Furthermore, even if you were able to do so in an unfinished basement, normal settling of your house will eventually open new entry routes and reopen old ones.

You can try a special floor drain adapter for your drainage holes in your basement. I myself have purchased couple of these Dranjer D-R2 floor drains. They allow for water to flow down the drain but prevent any gas/air from coming up through it into the living space. According to the website I purchased these from it does the following: “Dranjer seals permit unrestricted flow of water into floor drains or sump pits while sealing out the entry of mold spores, insects and radon gas from the sub-slabe floor area.” To be completely honest, I am not sure these worked very well, as my radon detector did not register any significant changes.

As a side note: EPA does not recommend the use of sealing alone to reduce radon because, by itself, sealing has not been shown to lower radon levels significantly or consistently