Are you in the process of buying or selling a home? If so, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) recommends that you have it tested for radon. Furthermore, the US EPA also recommends that when you are purchasing a newly-constructed home, that you inquire whether it was built with radon abatement features.
Radon is a natural radioactive gas that is known to cause cancer. In the United States, the Surgeon General claims that it is the second-leading cause of lung cancer.
Radon is both odorless and scentless. The only way to really know if it is present is to have it measured by a residential radon testing service. If radon is detected, then a professional contractor can provide mitigation services.
When purchasing a newly-constructed home, it is important to ask if it has been tested for radon. It is also important to ask if radon-resistant construction methods were utilized. The US EPA states that radon mitigation and abatement services should be obtained when radon levels are 4 pCi/L or higher. When these levels are lower, however, there may still be a risk.
When new homes are built, there are techniques that can be used to reduce radon levels. According to the US EPA, on average, these techniques have the ability to reduce radon levels by 50%. Furthermore, they may also make a difference in lowering levels of other types of soil gases and address other potential issues such as moisture.
There are other benefits of purchasing a new home with radon abatement features in place. Not only is it less expensive to address these issues during the construction process rather than later, these features can also make a difference with a house’s overall energy efficiency. It is estimated that you can save around $65 a year on your utility bills.
If radon action levels are discovered, the US EPA states that it is easy to upgrade the home to include radon abatement features. One of these features includes installing a ventilation fan. These fans have been known to further reduce radon levels in conjunction with passive mitigation systems.
The US EPA states that the type of house foundation, as well as other building site requirements, will determine which radon-resistant features can or should be utilized. These are considered to be radon-resistant features:
- Gas permeable layer installation
- Plastic sheeting installation
- Sealing and caulking
- Vent pipe installation
- Attic and home junction box installation
When placed beneath the foundation slab or flooring, a gas permeable layer, which usually consists of a four-inch layer of gravel, can allow soil gases to move beneath the house.
Plastic sheeting can be placed on top of the gravel, which prevents soil gas from entering the house. When there is a crawlspace beneath the house, plastic sheeting can also be installed over the flooring.
When the concrete foundation has below-grade openings, these openings can be sealed and caulked to prevent the soil gas from entering the house.
Another technique to prevent radon from entering the home is having a vent pipe installed during the construction process. These vent pipes, which are usually three-or-four-inch-wide PVC pipes, are “gas-tight.” The purpose of these pipes is to vent the radon from the gas permeable layer, through the house, and then out through the roof.
Having an electric junction box installed in the attic can assist with both the wiring and installation of a vent fan. When radon levels of 4 pCi/L or higher are discovered, then the passive system will be activated. There will also be a second junction box installed within the house to power the alarm, which is installed at the same time as the vent fan. When the vent fan isn’t working properly, the alarm will activate.
When the above radon abatement features are included during the construction process, it can make a major difference in preventing the influx of radon into a home. If you are planning to purchase a home in a new development, designing and constructing a home, or undergoing a major renovation, it’s important to ensure that radon abatement features are included to protect against this dangerous gas.