Are Radon Levels Higher In The Basement

When it comes to owning a home, there are many projects that homeowners must remember. However, testing your home for various elements in the air is not typically one that homeowners remember. It isn’t often that homeowners even consider testing anything in their homes. Additionally, testing is necessary for your home when you buy, sell, or live in the home. The great thing is that there are licensed contractors and home inspection teams that can conduct these various tests for you. For example, testing for Radon in your home is a fairly common necessity. Radon gas comes from the earth and can enter your home fairly easily if the correct options are presented. Are Radon levels higher in the basement? The assumption is based on a basement having many accessible entry points.

Let’s take a look below at what Radon is and where it comes from.

What Is Radon

A radioactive gas that is a product of decaying uranium and is naturally occurring in the soils on earth is Radon. The gas rises and as it makes its way through the soil it releases into the air. Radon gas can enter your home through cracks and crevices in your walls and the home’s foundation or basement. Radon gas can also be found coming from well water.

Where Does It Come From

There are many places Radon gas is known to come from. Since it is a naturally occurring gas that is released from our soil, we have zero control over it. Are Radon levels higher in the basement? Let’s take a look below at where Radon gas is known to come from.

  • Radon is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. It comes from the rocks and soil around us. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), one out of fifteen homes contains elevated levels of radon in the U.S. Radon gas is known to increase the chances of developing lung cancer.
  • Radon can access your home through cracks in the foundation, construction joints, cracks in your basement walls, holes in the sump pump, cracks in your slab, non-encapsulated crawl space, and unsealed plumbing areas.
  • As uranium decays it becomes radium. Radium then releases its gas into our soil, water, and rock formations. This is a naturally occurring event that cannot be controlled or stopped. We can only learn to protect our health and safety from it.
  • Air pressure in a home is lower than in its outside areas. As the gas leaves the home through the exhaust fans, radon gas is sucked into the home as it replaces the escaped gas. During the colder months, the hot air rises and escapes, and new air moves into the home. The new gases are sucked in from the surrounding areas to replace the air that has left the home. Changes in the air pressure, are what create this vacuum-type action.
  • Radon can enter any home that is in contact with the ground. Testing for radon every two years is highly recommended. Also, consider installing a radon mitigation system.
Encapsulated crawl space with vapor barrier and mitigation system pipe.
Mitigation system piping and vapor barrier to protect the home from radon gas.

Why The Basement

Believe it or not, the basement is not the only place Radon gas can enter a home. However, the Radon gas levels in a basement are likely to be higher, as basements have many possible entry points. Let’s take a look at some of those entry points.

  • Holes or gaps around your plumbing as it enters the foundation
  • Crawl space that isn’t encapsulated
  • Sump pump pit in the flooring
  • Cracks and holes in your concrete slab and walls
  • Floor-to-wall joints that aren’t sealed
  • Floor drains that are exposed and not sealed.

Also, keep in mind that Radon gas can pass through a concrete slab regardless of how sealed up cracks and crevices are.

How Is It Detected

Most homeowners are not aware that there are a variety of ways to test for radon. There are systems available called Radon mitigation systems, that detect and alert you of the Radon levels in your basement and in the home. They provide great functionality in protecting your family’s health and safety. Let’s take a look below at the various ways a professional service can test for radon.

  • Short-term Radon testing – these tests are activated charcoal-based or electric ions. They can measure your radon gas levels between 2-7 days. Next, you will mail your test measurements to the local lab for review.
  • Long-term Radon testing – these tests can also be purchased at your local radon agency or online retail site. These tests are conducted over a 90-day to a one-year period. Also, they are considered more reliable as they capture gusty winds, snow levels, moisture in the soil, and drop in air pressure.
  • Continuous Radon testing – these can be plugged into a standard electrical outlet. This technology will test every second that it is plugged into a power source. As air moves through your home, it is sampled and measured for any potentially harmful issues.
A newly installed Radon mitigation system to keep the Radon gas levels lower in the basement.
A radon mitigation system.

How Much Does It Cost

Getting a Radon mitigation system installed in your home could cost you between $750 and $5,000. This cost variation is dependent upon how big your home is. If you are simply looking to have your home tested for radon, the national average cost for a Radon test is $150 to $350. This is a great investment into your family’s health and safety. Also, keep in mind that if you get a full home inspection conducted, you could get an add-on radon test for a cheaper rate.

Other Recommended Maintenance

While you are on the topic of inspections and testing. It is also a great idea to get a wind mitigation inspection completed. Your local home inspection team can conduct a wind mitigation inspection at the same time as they conduct your Radon gas test. It is always a great idea to have multiple inspections or tests done on your home at the same time, to save money.

Additionally, you should not forget to have a mold inspection conducted on the home. A great way to prevent any major damage and health issues in your home is by taking the extra step and having a mold inspection completed. Your local home inspection team can complete this at the same time as they conduct their Radon gas test.

Lastly, make sure that your mold inspection is thorough. Just like how Radon gas can travel up and out of the home, mold spores can also travel up from the basement and into the main living space. Any basement that is damp and dark and has high moisture immediately becomes a breeding ground for mold production. Be sure to have your basement thoroughly inspected for mold.

Cracks in the homes exterior can create high Radon levels in the basement.
Radon gas can enter the home through various cracks and crevices.

When Do I Call A Professional

Hiring a Radon mitigation team to conduct a test for radon levels in your home is a great idea. Taking an aggressive approach to monitoring and testing various gases in the air will only help preserve your health and safety. As a homeowner, it is imperative to conduct a Radon mitigation test approximately every two years. Reach out to your local home inspection team and they can conduct the test for you.

Conclusion

No matter where you live, it is a great idea to conduct a radon mitigation test every two years. In order to protect your family’s health and safety, you will want to test your home for various gases such as radon and carbon monoxide. Because these gases are odorless, tasteless, and colorless, you have no idea of the levels in your home. Testing of the home should be done regardless of if you are buying, selling, or living in the home. Call on your local home inspection team to get your Radon gas test conducted today. Reach out to Warren Inspections in Eastern and Central Massachusetts for a radon test and all of your home inspection needs.