Radon gas is an invisible, odorless gas emitted by uranium decaying underground. Harmless outdoors, radon can seep into your home through the ground and accumulate: at high concentrations, this radiation can be extremely dangerous. In fact, radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and the second leading cause in smokers. Protect your home and family from this unseen menace with radon testing and, if necessary, radon mitigation.
Radon testing is an easy, straightforward process. A charcoal canister is used to collect radon gas from your home, usually over the course of approximately 48 hours. During the radon testing period, it's important to keep all doors and windows closed for the most precise readings. At the conclusion of the testing period, the canister is sent to a lab to measure the accumulated radon concentration. Simple as that. Do-it-yourself kits are readily available, although you may want to consider having a professional administer your test for optimal accuracy. Because your test results will be the basis of future action (either none because levels appear safe or an expensive radon mitigation) it's important to have the best readings possible. That way you'll be able to make an informed decision about what the next steps should be.
If your test does report unsafe levels of radon, you need to address the problem ASAP. You'll need to contact your local specialist: They will be able to design and install the right radon reduction system for your home. Depending on the construction of your home, there are several different options. The most common are sub-slab depressurization (for homes with basements) and sub-membrane depressurization (for homes with crawlspaces).
Sub-slab depressurization entails drilling a small hole in the floor of the foundation slab and excavating a slight cavity below. Then, a pump is connected to the hole and the radon (and any other organic contaminants) is vacuumed out of the ground before it has a chance to leak into your home. These gases are vented outside, where the radon can disperse harmlessly. Sub-membrane depressurization is similar to sub-slab depressurization, but because there is no slab, a membrane is installed over the floor of the crawlspace to trap the radon. The gas is extracted in a similar fashion and vented outside.
Because radon mitigation is not a one-size-fits-all process, this really is not a job for DIYers; from targeting the entry point to creating a complete seal, professionals have the knowledge, expertise, and skill to ensure your family will be safe.
Radon Resistant New Construction
If you live in an area with a known radon problem and are building a new home, you may want to consider radon resistant construction. These preemptive measures prevent the radon from ever entering your home, stopping the problem before it begins! The techniques are the same as for mitigation, but because your home is not being retrofitted the system can be more efficient as well as unobtrusive. For example, vent stacks are installed internally as the building is constructed, hiding this potential eyesore while still completely venting any radon gas. Talk to your contractor about whether radon resistant new construction is needed for your house.
Just like your home isn't safe without working smoke detectors, if you haven't tested for radon you're taking a risk! Let professional radon contractors bring you safety and peace of mind with complete radon testing and mitigation. If you're looking for a trustworthy technician in your area, organizations like the American Association of Radon Specialists and Technologists (AARST) and the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) can help you find a qualified professional.
Matt Gallo is a home improvement specialist and the Internet marketing manager for Prospect Genius, a leading provider of online, local advertising solutions.
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