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the sweet homesweet life blog

FAQ: What is this Radon business!?

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown (radioactive decay) of uranium. It enters homes through cracks, joints, gaps, cavities and sometimes water supplies. When it comes to the dangers of radon, there is overwhelming consensus that it is a public health hazard that needs to be addressed. The U.S. environmental protection agency recommends that radon levels of 4 picocuries pCi/L (picocuries per liter) or above should be mitigated.

A pick your what?

Picocuries or pCi is a measurement of the rate of radioactive decay of radon . . can’t smell it, taste it or see it, but can unfortunately breathe it in.

FAQ: How do I know if my house has it?

If you are buying or building a home or haven’t had your current home tested it is a good idea to test the levels of Radon. We can help connect you with a company that does this testing. Don’t be alarmed almost all homes will show levels of radon but ranges are low like .5-1.5 pCi/L.

FAQ: If I don't have a basement do I have to worry about Radon?

The style of the home has very little to do with radon entry. Whether your house is a (ranch, 2 story, walkout, split level, quad level, tri-level, or slab on grade), all structures have negative pressures in the lower half of the building, no matter how they are built or designed. No particular style of home is more likely to have a radon problem; including old homes, new homes, drafty homes, insulated homes, homes with basements, or homes without basements.

There are two different types of tests:

Charcoal test kits passively monitor levels of radon. These kits are placed in an area to be tested for a pre-determined period of time, usually from 48 – 72 hours. The kits contain a canister with charcoal, an extremely absorbent material. The radon gas will react with the charcoal, and once the test is completed, the canister is sent to a lab to analyze the results which will be sent back within 72 hours.

Continuous Radon monitoring machines measure and document the amount of radon in the air, as well as air temperature and barometric changes. (This occurs if windows or doors are opened during the testing period).

I only recommend this second type of testing because it is virtually fraud proof. It is also much more accurate than the canister test.

~ My inspectors only use continuous monitoring detectors that are calibrated, highly accurate, and fraud proof because I care about your lungs! ~

*Side note for my sellers . . . don’t be that seller of mine that tries to pull some shenanigans and wrap your radon test in saran wrap or stick it out on the porch where it gets rained on . . . It’s hard to explain to the testing company why the carbon is so moist unless it rained in your basement.

FAQ: I have a carbon monoxide detector, won’t that signal if I have high radon?

Carbon Monoxide detectors do not detect radon. Although elevated carbon monoxide can cause elevated radon levels. This is because back drafting is caused by a slight reduction in pressure in the room which can cause soil gases to enter the home.

These cost from $20.00 - $50.00 and I recommend everyone has one in their home. If your questioning why you need this, remember that carbon monoxide poison can be deadly. Carbon Monoxide is an odorless poison and too often goes undetected . . . protect yourself, protect your family!

FAQ: My home has Radon levels above 3.9 pCi/L. What do I do now?

A Radon mitigating company can install a radon system consisting of a pvc vent pipe into the gravel layer under the basement slab which runs from the basement up through the home into the attic and venting out the roof, or if there is a second story it will be placed on the outside of the house. Radon is slightly heavier than air and generally won’t go up through the vent pipe by itself. In these cases, a radon fan is installed to draw the gasses up and out of the home.

Radon Mitigation System Graphic

Okay, you found out you have unsafe levels of radon and you contact a company to put in a radon mitigating system.


{This pic does the explaining for me!}

Now, unfortunately there are some parameters around where they can put this monstrosity of a vent pipe. Location could determine how well it works and if they will guarantee the radon will be mitigated. However, there are often times they can conceal it or place it where you can landscape or blend it into the exterior of the home. Often, they are lazy and throw it up in the absolute easiest spot they can find.

I get it lung cancer is pretty serious, but so is CURB APPEAL!!!

P.S. PVC can be painted!

One of the services I offer my clients is being there when the radon system is being installed. I offer to assist with any repairs that need to be coordinated during the sale or purchase of their home.

My clients love to have me there and this is why:

I am picky, direct, ask a lot of questions, get other opinions, go to the higher ups . . . whatever it takes I want my client taken care of and the job done right! I always want what is best for my clients and to protect them and their investment.

FAQ: So, what does this radon mitigating system cost, and does it add any value to my house?

The average cost of a radon system is between $800-$1200.

FAQ: Does it have value?