Any home may have a Radon problem, new or old with or without a basement, sealed basement or not. Radon from soil gas is the main cause of radon problems.
Myth: Radon is a major problem only in old houses. Many people are under the assumption that if they build a brand new house or buy a house that is only a few years old that they are safe from radon gas. They may be under the false pretense that because current building practices are more advanced that basements and exterior are more impenetrable.
Fact: Radon can be present in any home or building. It makes no difference if the structure is brand new or very old. With or without a basement, radon gas comes from the ground and can become airborne so it can make its way inside any home. It also makes no difference if your home is drafty or well-sealed.
Even though it seems a little counterproductive since keeping radon out means making sure basements are well sealed, it’s also important to have a home that is well ventilated to let radon out. Most homes trap radon inside where it can accumulate thus leading to the negative effects on health.
Fact: Since it is a gas comprised of a single atom, radon’s ability to infiltrate a variety of materials is much higher than gases made up of multiple atoms such as oxygen, O2, which is made up of two atoms. While radon typically finds its way into homes through cracks or holes in a foundation it has the ability to penetrate through paper, plastic, sheetrock, wood, and insulation.
This fact can be a little frightening because it seems that there is no way to keep radon out of our homes. While this is true, the only thing we really can do is reduce the amount that is entering our homes. Since its formation occurs in the ground, the majority of radon will enter through parts of the house that have contact with dirt and rock.
Fact: The most common entrances for radon gas are through cracks in the floor or walls of basements, bare floored crawl spaces, construction joints, and gaps around pipes coming in from outside. Basements with sump pump systems are also more prone to radon gas seeping in through dirt pits. Furthermore, this dangerous gas can also be found in a water supply, especially if that water comes from an outdoor well instead of a water treatment system.
Fact: The United States EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has reported that in an area of seven tested states, almost 1 in 3 homes had radon levels that were over the recommended level for exposure. While you can be exposed to radon in any type of building including your home, school, or office, the home is the most common place to succumb to the negative effects since it where you spend the majority of your time. This is why it is so important that if you suspect any amount of radon in your home you should consider having it tested.
Fact: Radon gas enters the home through the slab, basement, or crawl space. Pressure differences within the home (from warm air rising and other natural effects) pull Radon into living spaces from the soil. Furnace & air conditioning systems can distribute the air through the structure. Other less common sources include well water and building materials. Measuring Radon concentration in the air is recommended for initial testing.
If you have further questions or concerns about these radon gas facts, you can easily locate a home inspector or radon specialist that is willing and able to provide more valuable information. For readers in the central Iowa area, Central Iowa Radon is your testing and mitigation experts. They can be found at their website www.centraliaradon.com or by calling them at 515-661-4304.