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Radon Part III: Testing & Remedies

Radon is a serious issue plaguing homeowners. If an overwhelming presence of this element takes hold of a home, it can put the residents at risk for issues such as lung cancer. Finding radon and limiting exposure is the key to maintaining healthy levels in your environment.

It has been determined that one out of every fifteen homes in the U.S. has a problem with excessive radon exposure. As such, it is extremely important to test and see if your home falls under this category. Catching the problem and remedying the issue can make a huge difference in your future health.

You can test your home to see if steps need to be taken to address high radon levels. Do-it-yourself radon detection kits can be ordered through the mail or bought in hardware or home supply stores. The kits are left in the home for a certain period of time and then sent for analysis at a specified lab. Short term kits are usually left in place for several days before being mailed, while long term kits, which usually give a more accurate reading, are left in place typically for about three months. Since radon comes in mostly through the ground, the EPA recommends testing all homes below the 3rd floor, even more modern homes built with radon resistance.

We recommend that homeowners turn to professionals to test the home for radon. Qualified radon contractors can be found through the EPA’s helpful website which lists state radon offices by location.

According to the EPA, homeowners should take steps to lower radon when levels reach 4 pCi/L and beyond when referring to the annual average. A professional should be contacted to make these changes as specific technical knowledge and skills are required. Without proper equipment and knowledge, there is potential for a homeowner to increase their radon levels or create other costly and potentially hazardous situations.

Professional radon remediation might include:

  • Soil suction prevents radon from entering the home by drawing the radon from below and the home and venting it through pipes to the air above the home where it is quickly diluted. 

  • Subslab suction is the most common and typically most reliable method of radon reduction. One or more suction pipes are inserted through the floor within or outside the home. A vent connected to the pipe draws radon gas from below the home and releases it into the outdoor air while simultaneously creating vacuum underneath. 

  • Sealing cracks and other openings in the foundation, floors, or walls limits the flow of radon into the home. This method alone does not effectively reduce radon by itself, but in conjunction with other methods can help lower radon levels.

  • Home or room pressurization uses a fan to blow air into the room in question from upstairs or outdoors. This creates enough pressure at the lowest level indoors, in a basement for example, to prevent radon from entering the home.

  • A heat recovery ventilator, or HRV (also called an air-to-air heat exchanger), can be installed to increase ventilation by introducing outdoor air while using the heated or cooled air being exhausted to warm or cool the incoming air. HRVs can raise heating and cooling costs, but if properly balanced, can maintain a constant degree of ventilation throughout the year.

These are just some of the available options. Homeowners with high radon levels should contact a professional contractor who specializes in or is certified for mitigating radon problems. They can offer more specific options that are personalized to your unique situation so that you can choose what fits your budget and home best.

Radon can be a serious issue if left untreated, but with proper attention paid to mitigating the problem, homeowners can rest easy knowing they are safe in their home once again and will be for many years to come.

Sources:
American Cancer Society. (7/31/2013). Radon. Retrieved from http://goo.gl/8bcCXO.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction. Retrieved from http://goo.gl/sc5AXn.
CKristiansen. (May 19, 2016). A digital radon detector [image]. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/F7OsyL.
 
John Lynch with Dwell360 is a REALTOR® who services the cities and suburbs of metro Boston. He is focused on his customers and his experience in the residential real estate market is extensive. Search for homes in Massachusetts and then give John a call.