How do I know if my home has a radon problem?  My home was just built, it can’t possibly have a radon problem.  How can radon even get into my home?  There’s no radon problem in my neighborhood! … These are frequently asked questions and misconceptions of homeowners when the topic of radon is introduced.

First and foremost, the only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test.  No home is immune.  According to the U.S. EPA, the average indoor radon gas concentration in the United States is 1.3 pCi/L (picocuries).  And, according to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) – the state’s regulatory agency for all things radioactive – Illinois’ average indoor radon concentration is 4.4 pCi/L.

Where does radon come from?  You might be surprised to know that there are not only trace, but substantial amounts of uranium found in bedrock, rock and soil throughout the U.S.  Once that uranium decays into radium and then radon, radon gas is free to move through cracks or fissures in bedrock, and through gravel, soil or sand into the home or building.

- Cracks in concrete slabs - Spaces behind brick veneer walls that rest on uncapped hollow-block foundations - Pores and cracks in concrete blocks - Floor and wall joists - Exposed soil, such as in a sump or crawl space - Weeping (drain) tile, if drained to an open sump - Morder joints - Loose fitting pipe penetrations - Open tops of block walls - Building materials, such as brick, concrete, and rock - Well water (not commonly a major source in homes
– Cracks in concrete slabs
– Spaces behind brick veneer walls that rest on uncapped hollow-block foundations
– Pores and cracks in concrete blocks
– Floor and wall joists
– Exposed soil, such as in a sump or crawl space
– Weeping (drain) tile, where drained to an open sump
– Mortar joints
– Loose fitting pipe penetrations
– Open tops of block walls
– Building materials, such as brick, concrete and rock
– Well water (not commonly a major source in homes)

However, determining exactly how radon enters a given building can be a complex equation, as there are a multitude of factors, both seen and unseen, which potentially contribute to a radon problem.  Among these factors are: cracks and crevices in the building’s walls and foundations, unsealed sump pits, damaged drainage systems or perforated pipes, mechanical equipment and exhaust devices, thermal bypasses, and internal and external temperature and pressure differentials, which create pressure driven airflow within the home or building.

For example, a leaky roof can result in warm air rising through and escaping the building.  The loss of air at your home’s upper levels can create negative pressure and a vacuum on your home’s lower levels.  This “stack effect” results in radon (and other soil gases) being drawn up into the building through any available pathways, i.e. cracks and crevices, etc.  Radon can also enter your home through your shower head in the form of steam (primarily from underground water sources such as wells or springs), emanate from building materials within the home (typically to a far lesser degree), and even diffuse through concrete!

Fortunately, you can easily prevent radon gas from entering your home (or business).  So take the first step in protecting your and your family’s health and schedule a radon test today!

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