Radon

Does Opening Windows Reduce Radon?

By August 24, 2020August 31st, 2020No Comments
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High levels of radon in the home are dangerous to you and your family.  Did you know that 1 in 5 American homes have radon that is above the EPA recommended level?  That is a lot! Since it is an odorless gas, some might think that opening a window will allow it to escape from the home; but does opening windows reduce the radon?  The answer is no. 

Some say it can provide a temporary solution, but when you close the windows, the levels of radon will go back to the original levels.  Thus, not fixing anything except maybe buying yourself a little time before the specialist comes to your home.

Radon might not be something you are familiar with so let’s take a look at what Radon is, how do you know if it is in your home, does opening windows reduce radon, and what to do to get rid of the radon.

What is Radon?
Chart of how Radon moves into the home

What is Radon?

Radon is an odorless and colorless gas that exists in the air we breathe in.  Outside is not where it hurts us but inside a home or building.  It is a radioactive gas that results from the natural decay of uranium and comes up from the soil and rocks in the ground. Next, it goes through the foundation and cracks and into homes and buildings. 

Once it is inside the home or building, the levels can grow.  Radon levels that are 4 picocuries per liter, or pCi/L, or higher are dangerous and need to be lowered.

Consequently, high levels of radon exposure are responsible for over 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year, second to cigarette smoking but it doesn’t have to be a killer if precautions are in place!  

How Do You Know if the Radon Levels Are High In Your Home?

Besides testing, you might know if radon levels are high in your home if you have symptoms.  But what are they?

Symptom of radon
Coughing can be a symptom of high Radon levels

Symptoms of Radon

Often, people will suspect radon levels to be high in the home if the occupants have a shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, tightening of the chest, a cough that is new or is worsening, hoarseness, or even trouble swallowing.

Other symptoms may include weight loss or loss of appetite.  Of course, these can also be related to the common cold or seasonal flu.  Thus, this is a great reason to have a radon test done to check the levels of the home.

Radon can be high in many states in the Northeast and northern parts of the United States. No matter where you live, testing is important.

Does Opening the Windows Reduce Radon?

Unfortunately, no, opening the windows does not reduce radon.  It is not a gas that will just permanently escape the home like smoke from something burning in the oven.  The radon may seem to leave when the windows are open, but as soon as they are closed, it is back.  Call in a professional to conduct a test to find out the levels in the home.

Testing By a Professional

Many professional home inspection companies offer radon testing services. Some tests are short term where the radon machine is in the home for two days and sometimes up to 90 days.  There is also a long-term test that might be run for over 90 days. 

The length of time depends on how fast the results are needed.  A short-term test will tell the levels of radon in the home in that season, while a longer-term test will give more of an idea of levels throughout the year.

It is important to note that when testing a home for radon, the home must stay closed up. If any doors or windows to the outside are open, the test will be invalid. The average cost of a radon test is $400 and depends on the length of the test.

How to Get Rid of Radon in the Home

If the results of the test show over 4 picocuries per liter, pCi/L, or higher, it is imperative to get rid of the radon.  As mentioned earlier, levels that are above 4 need to have the radon reduced in the home. The only way to get rid of radon is through radon mitigation.

Radon Mitigation

Radon mitigation is the process of getting the radon out of the home. The EPA recommends specific types of solutions that don’t allow the radon into the home.  The professional you hire to get rid of the radon will perform diagnostic tests to see what is the most efficient and cost-effective way to rid the home of radon.

The solutions used will also depend on the foundation type of the home.  There are three types of foundation homes: Basement, slab-on-grade, and crawlspace.

Basement and Slab-on-grade foundations
Slab-on-grade foundation

Basement and Slab-on-grade Foundations

Homes with a basement or slab-on-grade have success with the Active sub slab suction. A suction pipe goes through the floor underneath the rock and sucks out the radon to release it into the outdoor air. The passive sub slab does not work as well as active as it relies on natural pressure and air currents to work.

Crawlspace Foundation

Crawlspace homes use submembrane suction.  This is a high-density plastic sheet placed on top of the soil.  A fan and vent pipe are then used to get the radon out from under the sheet and into the outdoor air.

Other Types of Radon Reducing Techniques

 If the levels in the home are not too high, sometimes professionals will use the following techniques.  These can also be used on other foundation type homes as well.

  1. Sealing
  2. Pressurization of the room or home
  3. Heat Recovery Ventilator (or HRV)

Conclusion

In summary, opening up windows allows for more ventilation in the home but does not rid a home of a radon issue.  Contacting a professional is highly recommended so the correct type of test is conducted and the most effective mitigation is put into place.

If you have questions about radon testing drop us a line below!  We would love to hear from you!

Steve Mangekin

Author Steve Mangekin

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