Radon gas may not always be something we think about as homeowners in Oswego, Naperville, Aurora, Yorkville and Plainfield. This can become even more true when we’re looking into buying a new home. With all of the excitement and activity going into the purchase, radon testing is probably not near the top of our to-do list.
The subject will however surface during the home inspection. If the house has not been measured for radon within the last year, or if it is in a high-radon zone according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the inspector will recommend a test. The state of Illinois also strongly encourages it.
The good news is you don’t need to walk away from a house you may have really wanted; almost any home with radon can be fixed. If you find out mitigation is needed, you can rectify the situation promptly, safely and thoroughly.
Here’s what you should know, as well as what you can do.
What Radon Is
Radon is an invisible, odorless radioactive gas produced by naturally decaying uranium in the earth beneath our homes. As it forms, it can enter our homes where they contact the ground, such as through foundational cracks and drain openings. Basements in particular can be exposed to greater amounts of radon.
If too much of the gas concentrates, it can become hazardous. The EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identify radon as the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.
Radon can be found anywhere in the United States. Because it is undetectable to the senses, the only way we can know if it has reached dangerous levels is to test for its presence.
Performing the Test
Measuring for radon in the new home will typically involve a 48-hour electronic test. The test kit might include any one of a few different methods, all of which are typically reliable as long as they are properly placed and calibrated. The test provider also should be certified in radon measurement. Some states require that the provider be licensed.
The EPA identifies 4.0 picocuries of radon or higher per liter of air as the level needing mitigation. The World Health Organization recommends mitigation for 2.7 picocuries or higher. If a reading in the new home shows 3.1 picocuries, it might be considered less hazardous in the U.S., but mitigation can still be desirable if not wise.
Keep in mind also that while a radon test can be useful for the home transaction, a longer, more sustained test (90 days or more) will often be more accurate. This is because radon levels can fluctuate and weather changes can influence readings (e.g. levels may be higher in winter than in summer).
If you are buying a home that tested low for radon, make a point of retesting periodically to ensure the measurement remains safe.
Having Your Own System
Because the earth will always produce radon gas, there is no way to eliminate it. Dealing with radon requires stopping its flow into the home.
Rather than continue requesting radon tests, you can consider installing a permanent radon mitigation system in your new home. The system keeps the radon out by creating a vacuum that redirects the gas from the earth through sealed ventilation pipes. These lead to an exhaust fan on the roof that dissipates the gas safely into the atmosphere.
Having a permanent mitigation system also helps remove other soil gases that can leak into the home, such as methane, chlorine and trichloroethylene.
Finding Solutions and Support
Radon gas doesn’t have to interfere with buying a new home. If you have questions about radon testing or mitigation, Trinity Electrical Services and Radon Mitigation will be glad to assist you. Simply contact us at (630) 499-1492 to speak with a professional.