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Radon Gas in Homes

Home Insurance

By Joanne Lemna | May 22, 2017

Did you know that contrary to what many believe newer homes actually have more of a chance of having issues as far as the presence of radon gas in the home? This is because homes are constructed and subsequently sealed tighter than they were twenty years ago. Their larger size and height means new houses tend to be more at risk to radon exposure anyways. It’s a serious issue and certainly a threat to health as radon gas in homes has actually been cited as the number two cause of lung cancer in the country. It is thus extremely important that homeowners be informed about the possibilities and dangers of radon gas exposure in the home.

What Exactly is Radon?

When uranium rock found in the ground starts to break down it releases a colourless and odourless radioactive gas. Known as radon this gas is generally present to some extent in most homes across Canada. The key is to understand exactly how much radon is in your home. Levels that exceed safety standards can be very dangerous to the health of the people living within the structure. The Canadian Guideline for acceptable radon levels is currently 200 Becquerels per metre cube; meaning if your radon gas levels exceed this you need to take immediate steps to mitigate the problem.

How Does Radon Get Into A House?

Because it stems from uranium rock in the soil radon most often seeps into a house via the foundation. So as a result of cracks in foundation walls vulnerable joints between the concrete blocks and even the hollow space of a basement post the gas finds its way into your home’s interior spaces. And actually even though it usually enters through the basement or crawlspace concentrations in upper floors can be as high as 90% of that which is found in the subterranean spaces.

Testing for Radon Gas

Due to the fact that radon gas levels can vary from day to day the most effective way to test for it in your home is to establish a long-term testing option. Do-it-yourself kits are available at home supply stores. You can also look into hiring a certified radon specialist to come in and set the test up. This test will measure radon gas levels in your home over a 3 month period. In this way you get a clearer picture of what you might be dealing with in terms of a radon presence in your house.

What To Do If Radon Levels Are High

If after testing for radon you do discover that levels exceed the safety standards you most definitely want to take steps to reduce the amount of radon gas in the home–as it is making you and your family susceptible to sickness and potentially cancer. The absolute best way to ensure that radon levels are properly mitigated is to enlist the services of a certified radon professional. There is a very specialized technical knowledge required when it comes to reducing the amount of radon in a home. The certified professionals have been trained accordingly and know precisely what they’re doing. The exact process that they will use in order to reduce radon gas levels will vary depending on your particular circumstances thus the costs can also range. Typically for radon mitigation you are probably looking at anywhere from $2000-3000.

The process may entail sealing up suspect cracks and crevices and vulnerable joints and openings. It can also include installing several forms of mechanical ventilation throughout the structure. Or the mitigation method may be a bit more involved—again depending on your radon levels—and could mean a depressurization system that runs from underneath the slab up through the roof. With this system there is a fan that constantly runs thereby drawing radon out of the house and venting it outside.

When purchasing a home especially a newer home testing for radon gas is definitely something you want to include on your checklist. A fairly inexpensive and simple test it could mean safeguarding the health of your family and saving your life.

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