If you’re asking yourself, “Why do I care about radon mitigation systems?” don’t worry: you’re not alone. A lot of homeowners focus on things like electrical safety and protection from fires and carbon monoxide. Few give a second thought to radon, and they pay dearly for it.
Radon is a radioactive gas found in the earth’s crust. It seeps up from below, poisoning the air you breathe. But you’d never know it.
Colorless and odorless, it’s difficult to detect without special equipment. Radon gas is a byproduct of uranium, occurring when the element begins to decay naturally. This gas eventually works its way to the surface, poisoning the air around you.
Over time, this exposure can lead to lung cancer. In fact, long-term radon exposure was the reason attributed to over 21,000 deaths just last year. It is the second deadliest contributor, behind smoking, and the most lethal contributor amongst non-smokers.
Honestly? It’s everywhere. But your greatest points of exposure happen in places where the air fails to circulate, allowing gases to accumulate.
In other words, your greatest exposure risk is at home. Homes in the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin may be at the greatest risk, but not living in those states doesn’t mean you are safe.
Old or new, airtight or breezy, it doesn’t make a difference. You and your family could be in danger. In fact, the EPA recommends all homes get tested for air quality, regardless of whether or not you live in a “radon zone.”
The reason they make this recommendation is that the pathways the gas travels along can differ greatly depending on soil composition and air pressure. Anywhere there’s even a tiny bit of airspace creates a potential path for radon to escape, and it may not be strictly vertical. Once it reaches the surface, the air pressure differential between your home’s interior and the outside creates a vacuum effect, sucking the radon inside your home.
While your home may be snug and well insulated, that doesn’t mean it’s completely sealed. Gas can get in through any number spaces, including:
You’ll find radon levels highest in the places where it enters the home. And generally, these tend to be on the lower levels. The air dilutes and carries the gas throughout the home as it moves upward from the point of entry.
Why is this important? Well, if your home tests negative for radon on the third floor that doesn’t necessarily mean your home is radon-free. In fact, to conduct the test properly, you’ll need to account for many factors, including location and time of year.
Identifying the entry points is part of the battle, but it’s still not enough.
It boils down to three easy steps:
But how can you determine what’s “safe” and when it’s time to install a fan?
A trained HVAC professional will be able to steer you in the right direction. They can assist with testing, as well as advise you on the installation of a fan. However, you are an integral part of the process. Here are a few things you’ll need to ask to ensure your setup is the best choice for your home and budget:
You’re now educated and aware of the problem, so the next step is testing. Based on the outcome of those results, you can find a professional to help you determine if a radon fan is right for you.
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