HOW RADON ENTERS A HOME
Radon is the product of the natural decay of uranium in soil. It travels toward the surface through fissures in soil and rock. Radon becomes a concern when it collects below the foundation of a home then enters the home through openings in the slab such as cracks, joints, sump pits, utility penetrations, and exposed crawl spaces. The pressure difference between the interior of a home and the soil creates a vacuum or “chimney effect” that draws the gas up through the foundation and into the home.
The travel pathway of radon through the soil is determined by the soil structure. Radon gas will follow the path of least resistance as it travels toward the soil surface. This explains why neighboring homes may have radon levels that vary widely. One cannot predict the radon level of a home based on the levels in nearby houses. However, if a home in a neighborhood has reported unacceptable radon levels, it is highly recommended that all homes in the area be tested.
RADON IN YOUR HOME
On average, people are exposed to higher doses of radiation from radon in their home than from any other radiation source. The radon level in a home is affected not just by the source of the gas, but also by weather and the strength of the chimney effect in the house.
Radon levels tend to be highest in the winter due to several factors. During the cold months, we try to seal windows and doors to increase heating efficiency, which also traps radon. Ice and snow that blankets the ground around the house closes off potential escape routes for gas and forces a greater accumulation under and around the foundation. In addition, as the warm air in the home rises and escapes through the roof, the chimney effect strengthens and pulls more radon through openings in the foundation. Winter is an excellent time to test for radon to ensure that your home is safe year round.
The only way to determine your exposure to radon is to conduct a radon test. If your test results are above 4 PCi/L, then a radon mitigation system is recommended. Radon systems are designed to remove the radon from below the foundation of your home BEFORE it enters the building. These systems are very effective in reducing residential radon levels and are an affordable investment in the health of your family. Most radon systems cost between $800 and $1200.