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Side Note: Radon Gas & Waterproofing

Radon Gas is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from radium deposits in the earth’s crust.  If present in the soil under your home, it can get sucked into your house via the basement or crawl space.

DON’T PANIC!  It’s fairly common and easy to get rid of.

Some people that know “a little”, think that basement waterproofing systems and radon mitigation systems are incompatible.  While it is true that gaps, cracks and hols in the basement floor and walls need to be sealed as part of the strategy to get rid of Radon, this can be done without compromising the waterproofing system.

 

Excerpts from Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why by Lawrence Janesky

Could There be Radon in MY HOME?

The truth is, any home could have a radon problem, whether it’s in an area with a high radon potential or an area with a low radon potential, or whether it’s old or new, energy-efficient or drafty, built on a slab or built over a basement or crawlspace.  Because it’s a tasteless, odorless, colorless gas, there are no physical signs that will alert you to the presence of radon in a home.  (It doesn’t smell bad, there is no discoloration of the foundation, there are no visible traces of the gas, etc.)  And, there are no warning symptoms to let you know you’re being exposed.  (It doesn’t cause headaches, nausea, fatigue, skin rashes, etc.)  The only way to know whether your home has a problem–or whether you are at risk–is to test! 

EPA worked with the U.S. Geological Survey and the state radon programs to develop a “map of zones” to help identify areas of the U.S. with the potential for elevated indoor radon levels.  Counties were ranked into one of three categories (Zone 1, Zone 2, or Zone 3, with “1” being higher potential and “3” being lower potential) based on indoor radon measurements (i.e., data from the 1987-88 residential radon survey), geology, aerial radioactivity, soil permeability, and foundation type.  Click here to see the EPA Map of Radon Zones – Michigan or click here to see the U.S. Map of Radon Zones.

This Map of Zones was developed to assist national, state, and local organizations in targeting their resources for outreach and education, as well as to assist building code officials in deciding whether radon-resistant features should be incorporated into new construction.  These maps are NOT intended to be used to determine if a home in a given zone should be tested for radon.  Homes with elevated levels of radon have been found in all three zones.  All homes should be tested regardless of geographic location.

While your neighbor’s test results may provide some indication of the potential for a problem in your home, radon levels can vary significantly from lot to lot and home to home.  Don’t rely on your neighbor’s test results to determine your risk.  Test your own home and be certain!

 

Radon – The Uninvited Ghost Lurking in Your Home

What is Radon?  Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water.  The release of this radioactive gas enters the air you breathe, causing a potential health risk to you and your family.  Radon gas can be found in just about anywhere. It can get into any type of building – homes, offices, and schools – and build up to high levels.

What should I know about Radon?  It is a cancer causing radioactive gas. You cannot see radon and you cannot smell it or taste it, but it may be a problem in your home. This is because when you breathe air-containing radon, you increase your risk of getting lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.

Should I test for Radon?  Yes; testing is the only way to find out about your home’s radon level. The EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing of all homes below the third floor for radon.

Can I fix a Radon problem?  Yes; if you find that you have high radon levels, there are ways to fix a radon problem. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels.

Should I be concerned with Radon when I’m in the process of buying a home?  Yes; the EPA recommends that you obtain the radon level in the home you are considering buying. An EPA publication “The Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide” is available through most State Health Departments or Regional EPA offices listed in your local phone book. EPA also recommends that you use a certified or state licensed radon tester to perform the test. If elevated levels are found it is recommended that these levels be reduced. In most cases, a professional can accomplish this at reasonable cost or homeowner installed mitigation system that adheres to the EPA’s approved methods for reduction of radon in a residential structure.

What are the Risk Factors associated with Radon?  The EPA, Surgeon General and The Center for Disease Control, have all agreed that continued exposure to Radon gas can cause lung cancer.  In fact, their position on the matter is that all homes should be tested for radon gas exposure, and all homes testing over 4 pCi/L should be fixed.

How Does Radon Enter the Home?  Typically the air pressure inside your home is lower than the pressure in the soil around your home’s foundation.  Due to this difference, your house acts like a vacuum, drawing radon gas in through foundation cracks and other openings of your home.  Radon may also be present in well water and can be released into the air in your home when water is used for showering and other household uses.

Potential Radon Home Entry Points:

  • Cavities inside walls
  • Cracks in solid floors
  • Construction joints
  • Cracks in walls
  • Water supply
  • Gaps in suspended floors
  • Gaps around service pipes

If, at any time, you are concerned about your home and would like a Radon Inspection done by Home Inspection Professionals, please contact us anytime at 1-800-HIP-3200 or click here to Request an Inspection via the web.