Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: What is Radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring gas which is part of the air that we all breathe every day. It is present in all homes. You cannot see, smell or taste Radon and the only way to determine if unsafe levels of Radon exist in your home is to test for it.


Q: How much will it cost to fix my Radon problem?

Cost are dependent on your needs. Generally, radon testing for locations with 20 miles of our office will cost $165. Radon mitigation costs approximately $1,200 to $1,600. For more information on our fees, see our Pricing Estimates Page.


Q: What does a Radon mitigation system look like?

See our schematics and photos throughout this site.


Q: Where is Radon Found?

The major source of Radon in high levels is in the soil and bedrock surrounding and under the house. Radon is found all over the United States and around the world in varying concentrations. Problems with Radon have been identified in every state. The EPA estimates that as many as 1 in 15 homes have elevated and dangerous levels of radon, causing serious risk to its inhabitants.


Q: What are the health risks?

Almost all scientists agree that Radon is a health hazard to humans and that it causes lung cancer, however the exact risk calculation and the action level usually raise debate. The EPA has declared Radon to be a "Class A Carcinogen," which means that it has been shown to cause cancer in humans.

Radioactive solid particles are created as the Radon gas decays. These particles can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe. As the particles break down further, they release small bursts of energy that can damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer. Although not everyone exposed to elevated levels of Radon will develop lung cancer, the dangers are significant, and the amount of time between exposure and the onset of disease may be many years—making detecting the cause all that much more difficult.


Q: What levels are too high?

Radon is measured in pico-Curies per liter (pCi/L) of air. A picoCurie is a measure of the amount of radioactivity of a particular substance. The level of Radon in outdoor air is about 0.4 pCi/L. The average indoor Radon level is about 1.3 pCi/L. The EPA has established 4.0 pCi/L as the action level for Radon in homes, schools and workplaces. Current mitigation technology can generally reduce Radon levels to 2.0 pCi/L or less. Since Radon is a carcinogen, no level is completely risk-free. However, since it is a natural part of the environment there is no such thing as a "0" level.


Q: How does Radon get into homes?

Radon is a soil gas that typically moves up through the ground to the air above. Air pressure inside a home is usually lower than pressure in the soil around the home's foundation. Homes draw Radon in through dirt floors, hollow-block walls, cracks in the foundation floor and walls, and openings around floor drains, pipes and sump pumps.

Any home may have a Radon problem, including new, old, well-sealed or drafty homes. Radon is generally more concentrated on the lower levels, such as basements, ground floors and first floors.


Q: Should every home be tested for Radon?

Yes, every home should be tested for Radon, since testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from Radon. Both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes.


Q: I have sandy soil around my house. I don't have Radon gas, right?

You still might! Sandy soils tend to produce a lower percentage of homes that test above the EPA Guideline, however homes with high levels of Radon gas are still found in such soils.


Q: I already have an existing Radon Mitigation system. There is no need to test my home, right?

Actually, yes. The home should be tested to ascertain if the mitigation system is effective and still functioning.


Q: Is it true that radon mitigation contractors should not perform a radon test on the homes that they have just mitigated?

No - the EPA recommends that a Radon mitigation contractor should test every home that they mitigate to demonstrate to their client and themselves that the system they have just installed is effective.


Q: When is the best time to test for Radon?

Generally the winter or summer months when heating or cooling systems are running is the best time to test for Radon. For short-term tests, the house should be closed up for 12 hours before the test begins and throughout the test.


Q: How does it work for radon testing when selling your home?

EPA has developed specific testing protocols for use during real estate transactions. For passive tests the recommendation is: "Take an initial short-term test for at least 48 hours. After the first test has been completed, take a follow-up short-term test for at least 48 hours." or "Take two short-term tests at the same time in the same location for at least 48 hours." For either approach, "Fix the home if the average of two tests is 4 pCi/L or more." For an active test, "Test the home with a continuous monitor for at least 48 hours. Fix the home if the average Radon level is 4 pCi/L or more."


Q: How do you reduce (mitigate) Radon levels in existing homes?

There are two schools of though on Radon mitigation or reduction. One is to prevent the Radon from entering the structure and the other is to remove the Radon after it enters the structure. Generally, the best approach is to prevent the Radon from entering, although this is not always possible.

Some of the techniques used to mitigate radon are soil depressurization, sealing cracks and joints, pressurizing the building, or a combination of these. Sealing foundation joints and cracks is rarely sufficient as a stand alone mitigation technique. Soil depressurization, the most common approach, involves running PVC pipe through the slab (or underneath a membrane in a crawl space), then routing it up and through the roof. A fan is attached in the attic area, and the Radon is thus drawn from below the slab (or membrane) and vented above the roof where it is quickly diluted in outside air.

EPA recommends that a qualified contractor be used to mitigate homes because of the specialized technical experience required. Without proper equipment or technical knowledge, one could actually increase the Radon levels or create other potential hazards. NEHA (National Environmental Health Association) certifies Radon mitigators that have taken a course and passed a test based upon the material taught.