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Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19

Educate me on Radon

I'm in the process of purchasing a home. I really don't know much about Radon and issues in the home. I read up on it with Google, but I wanted the input of some of the trusted experts here. What are your thoughts about home with Radon, Radon removal systems, etc?

What levels should I be looking for? What should I be looking for, period?

Thanks
--
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. -MLK



sempergoofy
Premium
join:2001-07-06
Smyrna, GA
Reviews:
·AT&T Southeast

Back in the 80's, my wife was the primary Health Physicist assigned to radon studies in CDC's radiation studies branch and worked closely to set the public exposure guidelines with EPA.

If memory serves, the exposure guidelines can be viewed in the EPA docs that she coauthored lo' those many years ago. The current EPA guideline docs are at:
»www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/index.html
I haven't looked at them in a long time and my wife moved into other cancer epidemiology work long ago.

CDC's site had plenty of radon info: »www.cdc.gov/nceh/radiation/broch···adon.htm
--
nohup rm -fr /&



Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19

On the EPA's website link you provided there's a PDF there that I went through. It gave me quite a good bit of information. Thank you very much.
--
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. -MLK



sempergoofy
Premium
join:2001-07-06
Smyrna, GA
Reviews:
·AT&T Southeast

1 edit

I'm glad the info was useful. My advice is to follow the advice on the CDC and EPA websites. Test the home, and if the guidelines suggest it, assure that remediation mitigation work is done and maintained to reduce the risk of the occupants.

You should search the archives of the Home Improvement forum here with keyword "radon" as I recall there have been some threads where members showed pics of their remediation systems in their homes along with discussions.

Edit: The right term is "mitigation" not "remediation".
--
nohup rm -fr /&



tschmidt
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-12
Milford, NH
kudos:9
Reviews:
·G4 Communications
·Fairpoint Commun..
·Hollis Hosting
reply to Archivis

We live in NH so Radon is often a problem due to all the Granite. I have done my own tests in the basement and several years ago participated in the state Radon project. Test results have varied widely. I assume the long term state test is the most accurate: 2.3 1st fl and 3.2 pCi/L in the basement. Results from short term testing we did ourselves were all over the place: 6.1, 3.4, 1.9, and 6.0 pCi/L.

Based on the test results have have not implemented a mitigation strategy. One thing I did many years ago is bring in fresh air into the basement. We heat with wood and the house is very tight. I installed a 4" flexible duct that terminates near the wood stove and installed a small axial fan to bring in fresh air. I leave the fan running all year long. I have no idea how effective it is but certainly cannot hurt. I don't remember if the fan was on during the various Radon tests or not.

I'm on the fence as to the danger of low level exposure, if the danger is high one would think there would be stronger correlation between exposure and cancer rates. That being said I'd walk away from a house that had significantly elevated rate.

I don't have any direct experience with removal systems but from what I have read they are effective. Basically a fan driven collection system sucks Radon out of the ground at foundation level and vents it to the atmosphere.

/tom



Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19

My realtor said that there was a home that was at a 140picowhatever rate. He said that in PA, the ideal level is below 4. The EPA documentation suggests 2-4 is where you want to be (well, less than 2 is great, but supposedly hard to accomplish on your own).

This 140-level home had a system put in place and was able to get down below 4.
--
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. -MLK



cableties
Premium
join:2005-01-27

1 edit

If the house is air-tight, you might have higher levels. Older homes that aren't insulated well, tend to have most air (heat) loss so that can be a factor.

I live in SE PA and several units (adjacent to me) have had testing and mitigation. I have not. Mitigation can be nothing more than company drilling/cutting hole in the basement floor, create a space and remove soil-fill, flange with PVC piping, a static gauge (liquid/display), and an outside exhaust fan inline (runs 24/7) to duct-pipe. (creates static pressure to pull the radon gas outside, away from underneath the house).

IMHO, radon has been around since before man walked this planet; it is the natural gas of isotope decay. They claim most that have died from (radon) lung cancer, don't specify whether they were also smokers, ex smokers, or in contact with other lung issues (welding, painting....). But since folks are making lower basements into living spaces, no one really knows. plus, there are stories that it helps some folks. LMGTFY...
--
Splat



cowboyro
Premium
join:2000-10-11
Shelton, CT
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
reply to Archivis

My house had a 1.1pCi/L when tested... and yet the Geiger counter goes crazy near the air filter. Actually I caught this by accident, wanted to see if the granite countertops emitted any significant radiation (they didn't), but in a certain area of the kitchen the levels were just a bit higher. After investigating in the basement I noticed that the levels were higher near the air handler... the "hot" area of the kitchen was above the air handler.

»www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAbzfGT-xfs

bemis

join:2008-07-18
Reading, MA
Reviews:
·Comcast
reply to Archivis

pC/L is pico-Curies per Liter... Curies as in Marie Curie, a pioneer of radiation research, which ultimately killed her

EPA "action" level was 4.1pC/L when I bought my house in Fall 2010. The WHO was recommending under 2.9pC/L.

The general consensus amount realtors was that anything over 4.1pC/L you could request a mitigation system be installed... below that, and you were pushing your luck (i.e. might as well just ask for $1000 off the sale price).

The basement of the home I bought was a wreck, a pane was missing from a basement window and taped up with a trash bag only a day or two (supposedly) before the test, two full sized exterior windows in the basement had no sashes installed (open to outside), they were put back in with the trash bags (and the sills were so rotted they might as well have been opened an inch or two). The exterior walk out door had a 1" gap at the bottom allowing water/air to pass by easily. I ended up with mid-3's on my testing.

After I replaced the broken windows and doors the level rose to about 8-9pC/L according to an electronic radon device I bought. It's +/-5pC/L seasonally and based on the amount of rain we receive.

I suppose when I sell I will be asked to take action...



sempergoofy
Premium
join:2001-07-06
Smyrna, GA
Reviews:
·AT&T Southeast
reply to Archivis

FWIW, a quick video from 2005 on a mitigation system installation.
»www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/video/0···,00.html
--
nohup rm -fr /&


demir
Premium
join:2010-07-15
usa
reply to Archivis

I'm not an expert, but personally I wouldn't want to have to mitigate radon or think about trying to resell the home down the line ---even with a mitigation system installed.

I guess I'd think about getting out of the contract (you do have it under contract right)

Maybe I'm totally off on this one and most people don't really care about radon --- I would. Just my 2 cents.



PSWired

join:2006-03-26
Annapolis, MD

1 recommendation

reply to Archivis

My parents had a house built in 2001 when I was living at home. The radon level in the basement was several times above the EPA action level.

The house was built with a "passive radon mitigation system" which was essentially a sealed sump pit with a 4" PVC vent pipe leading to the roof. There was a perimeter drain field attached to the sump pit as well.

I added an inline blower to the vent pipe and a manometer to monitor the sub-slab vacuum level. Subsequent re-tests showed radon levels *well* under the EPA limit. Total cost was $200 or so.

The blower has been running 24/7 for 11+ years now.

»residential.fantech.net/resident···st-fans/


MaynardKrebs
Heave Steve, for the good of the country
Premium
join:2009-06-17
kudos:4
reply to cowboyro

said by cowboyro:

My house had a 1.1pCi/L when tested... and yet the Geiger counter goes crazy near the air filter. Actually I caught this by accident, wanted to see if the granite countertops emitted any significant radiation (they didn't), but in a certain area of the kitchen the levels were just a bit higher. After investigating in the basement I noticed that the levels were higher near the air handler... the "hot" area of the kitchen was above the air handler.

Are you downwind from a nuclear reactor, submarine base, or nuclear fuel processing facility?


cowboyro
Premium
join:2000-10-11
Shelton, CT
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse

said by MaynardKrebs:

Are you downwind from a nuclear reactor, submarine base, or nuclear fuel processing facility?

No. The amount of time it takes to reduce the radioactivity levels is consistent with the half-life of the decay products of Radon.


Toadman
Hypnotoad

join:2001-11-28
Ex Ohioan
kudos:1
reply to Archivis

Dup post.



Toadman
Hypnotoad

join:2001-11-28
Ex Ohioan
kudos:1
Reviews:
·AT&T Midwest
reply to Archivis

Just make sure you list it as a contingency in your contract so if it does have radon you can have the seller pay for the mitigation system or have the right to pull out of the sale. Many areas have radon, call your health department. Where I live there is a lot of shale so most homes in my township have radon and a mitigation system. IMHO if the area if it is not common pass on the house due to resell. If it is common u won't find a house without it.
--
This post is made with meat biproducts.



Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19

We put a bid on a house today for a house that has a mitigation system in place. We will be scheduling a Radon inspection for $100 once everything else gets signed (amongst other inspections).
--
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. -MLK



ptrowski
Got Helix?
Premium
join:2005-03-14
Putnam, CT
kudos:4

When we were buying our current house it tested above the acceptable level for radon. We split the cost of the system because the bank would not approve the loan if the house tested in the red.



Shadow01
Premium
join:2003-10-24
Wasteland
reply to Archivis

So all of you home owners with mitigation systems are intentionally pumping radiation into the atmosphere we all breath? Shouldn't you be held accountable for improper radiation release?



hambone42
Peace, through superior firepower
Premium
join:2002-02-02
Manassas, VA
Reviews:
·Comcast
reply to Archivis

For those of you who have had a mitigation system installed -- what is the configuration of the outside vent?

We're buying a house and had the seller install a system as the Radon level was above the EPA standard. The vent pipe exits the basement just above ground level, and the fan unit is on the outside of the house. The vent pipe runs up the side of the house and terminates in a 90* elbow below the roofline. I can see why they chose to run the vent outside as they would have had to punch through two floors to get to the roof, but I'm a little surprised they put the fan unit outside.

My main question is about that elbow -- I think it should have some kind of screen or cap on it; our agent says that's fairly typical for this area. Thoughts?
--
Sarcasm is the Body's Natural Defense Against Stupidity



Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19

You can get a Radon inspection done. It's about $100 in our area. They'll check the system and its effectiveness.
--
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. -MLK



ptrowski
Got Helix?
Premium
join:2005-03-14
Putnam, CT
kudos:4
reply to hambone42

That's a typical setup. Mine exits the house, and there is an elbow with the fan unit right above the elbow. Then it vents above the roof straight up, no cap or screen. My parents in KY is the same way. The fan died once so I called the company that installed it. (word to the wise the stuck their business card next the the flow meter on the pipe in the basement). They said the chances of debris getting in there is slim.
--
"So, Lone Starr, now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb."

Have you been touched by his noodly appendage? »www.venganza.org



PSWired

join:2006-03-26
Annapolis, MD
reply to hambone42

said by hambone42:

For those of you who have had a mitigation system installed -- what is the configuration of the outside vent?

We're buying a house and had the seller install a system as the Radon level was above the EPA standard. The vent pipe exits the basement just above ground level, and the fan unit is on the outside of the house. The vent pipe runs up the side of the house and terminates in a 90* elbow below the roofline. I can see why they chose to run the vent outside as they would have had to punch through two floors to get to the roof, but I'm a little surprised they put the fan unit outside.

My main question is about that elbow -- I think it should have some kind of screen or cap on it; our agent says that's fairly typical for this area. Thoughts?

They put the fan outside because the inside piping is supposed to be under suction in occupied areas of the house. That way a leak doesn't dump stinky, humid, radon-filled sub-slab air into the house.

Wouldn't worry about the lack of a screen. No birds or insects are going to mess with a pipe that has all that air coming out 24/7.


OldCableGuy

@planetcr.net
reply to ptrowski

I had a (no joke) squirrel drop an acorn down mine. I watched the little f--ker do it too from my deck. By the time I got to the basement to turn off the breaker for the fan it had started to smoke and was toast. However they replaced the fan for free at that point.



sempergoofy
Premium
join:2001-07-06
Smyrna, GA
Reviews:
·AT&T Southeast

said by OldCableGuy :

I had a (no joke) squirrel drop an acorn down mine. I watched the little f--ker do it too from my deck. By the time I got to the basement to turn off the breaker for the fan it had started to smoke and was toast. However they replaced the fan for free at that point.

They are pretty adamant that any vent cap that would restrict or redirect the air laterally at the roof exit is bad for a variety of reasons based on my google readings. However, I think you can put a few (two or so) feet more on the height to make it less friendly for a squirrel to do that. I did see one site where they put a wire mesh screen (approx 0.5" squares) over the exit. Not sure if that passes muster or not, but I saw an image of it.
--
nohup rm -fr /&

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI

Yeah, I'd think that a single layer of galvanized hardware cloth wouldn't be any more restrictive than a couple of extra feet of pipe.



PSWired

join:2006-03-26
Annapolis, MD
reply to sempergoofy

Look at the manometer that measures the subslab pressure before and after adding the screen. There should be a limit on it, make sure the screen doesn't make the pressure rise above the limit.



sempergoofy
Premium
join:2001-07-06
Smyrna, GA
Reviews:
·AT&T Southeast

This is the website where I saw the weather resistant screen installed yesterday.
»wpb-radon.com/Radon_installation_photos.html
I note, however, that this installer seems to have also put a tee type rain deflector at the top of the exhaust. That's the part that seems to most controversial based on other readings as it has the potential to redirect the air for possible reintroduction instead of maximizing the dispersal with a straight shot. I dunno.
--
nohup rm -fr /&



Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19
reply to Archivis

Heading out to see the home inspection later today. Not sure if the Radon test will be complete by then or not.
--
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. -MLK



hambone42
Peace, through superior firepower
Premium
join:2002-02-02
Manassas, VA
Reviews:
·Comcast
reply to sempergoofy

Thanks to all who replied and to sempergoofy See Profile for that installation link.

The "condensation bypass" seems a little odd. I understand the explanation, but I would think that the drain holes in the cap below the tee would slightly compromise the fan's ability to keep a vacuum under the slab. Most of the systems I've seen don't have that feature; perhaps it's only required in colder climates?
--
Sarcasm is the Body's Natural Defense Against Stupidity