• 1 in 15 homes have high amounts of radon gas
• Radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer
• EPA says Tennessee is a hot spot for elevated radon levels
• Radon poisoning is more deadly to pets than humans
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
lists Middle Tennessee as a high-probability area for radon gas, with some of the highest levels found in Davidson, Wilson, Smith, Maury, Williamson and Rutherfod Counties.
The only way to ensure radon is at safe levels in the home is through proper testing of EPA certified radon monitors.
By now, you probably know that radon can be deadly. The fact is that radon exposure is unavoidable because it comes from the breakdown of uranium in our soil, so it is quite literally all around us. The problem is that radon is a heavy gas, so indoors, it collects in low-lying areas, like basements and crawl spaces and then seeps in through pathways like cracks in the foundation and walls and gets trapped inside. People who spend most of their time in a home or building with elevated levels of radon will eventually suffer the consequences of overexposure, with the most impactful being an increased possibility of lung cancer.
The Surgeon General warns us that radon is the number one leading cause of cancer among non-smokers
and the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today behind smoking. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that radon is responsible for approximately 21,000 deaths a year and the most recent research shows that 1 in 15 houses have elevated levels of radon. Let’s put this into perspective. Over 100,000 people will die in the next five years due to radon and that statistic could have just as easily been ZERO if those people had known about the effects of radon, tested their home, and installed a radon reduction system.
Which homes and buildings should be tested? Every … single … one. It is so easy to gain a false sense of security when a person hears that a neighbor’s radon test showed low levels of radon. The reality is that two houses side by side built by the same builder at the same time can have drastically different radon levels. The only way to know your specific level is to get your home tested. Testing is easy, it doesn’t cost a lot, and it can absolutely save your life. You should have your house tested for a minimum of 48 hours, but 90 days or longer would yield the most accurate results. Testing for several months takes into account the things that affect the test itself like barometric pressure, rain-soaked soil, strong winds, snow cover, and heating and air conditioning use, and that is why these tests more precisely reflect your home’s yearly average. Long-term tests are not always feasible, though, especially with real estate transactions. While long-term tests give you a better picture of your true radon levels, it does not make the short-term test invaluable. A two-to-four-day test will give you a quick read on whether you might have a radon issue that you want to address.
The good news is that radon testing is not a complicated process, but it does need to be done properly to ensure your testing device is placed in the best location and set up correctly. That is why it is always safer to hire a professional instead of trying to do it yourself. Since we are an experienced, certified mitigation company, to protect you, the consumer, and to avoid what we consider a conflict of interest, we vetted many companies and partnered with a leading home inspection company in middle Tennessee who provides the professional technicians to test your home.
What happens if your levels are too high? Don’t panic! Radon exposure is cumulative, so the risk rises over an extended period of time. Most radon issues can be resolved quickly and painlessly and at a very reasonable cost.
Radon Mitigation (also called remediation)
is any method used to reduce radon accumulation in the air that is breathed in homes and buildings. The goal of a radon reduction system is to lower the indoor radon level as much as possible. Many considerations filter into determining what type of system will be most effective for your specific circumstances, but the design and condition of your foundation along with the permeability of the soil or aggregate beneath the foundation will be the most important factors when it comes to the complexity and cost of your system.
Radon mitigation typically involves creating a vacuum beneath a foundation to exhaust the radon-rich air
outdoors where it can disperse harmlessly into the atmosphere instead of accumulating underneath your
house and seeping in through pathways such as cracks in your foundation. If the soil or aggregate under your
foundation is found to be permeable, meaning it is easy for air and water to pass through it, fewer suction
points will be necessary than if the soil is made up of dense clay. A “suction point” is a hole that is created so a
PVC pipe can be inserted and passed through the foundation into the ground. The pit at the bottom of this
suction point creates a path of least resistance to be able to gather the radon gas.
A radon fan placed on the outside of the home continuously runs to vacuum radon infused air through
the PVC pipe to vent it above the roofline.
Many times, radon levels can be reduced enough with just one suction point. Much less often, due to a strong
radon source or tightly packed clay and soil, a house could require more than one suction point to lower the
radon to an acceptable level.
The process described above, or active sub-slab depressurization is the most common and effective radon
mitigation method and is used with slab (or concrete) floors. The second most popular system works on the
same principle as the sub-slab system but is used with crawl spaces and is termed active sub-membrane
depressurization system. This process requires a high-density vapor barrier (plastic sheeting) to be placed over
the dirt or gravel and a PVC pipe is installed through the membrane to pull the radon from beneath the sheet
and vent it outdoors. Research shows that you can reduce your radon levels up to 99% with a radon reduction
system like one of these.
Just because you can’t see the moisture or gas in your crawl space doesn’t mean it isn’t detrimental
to you and your loved ones. Your crawl space’s vents allow the passage of humid air during the summer months, which condenses and settles on pipes, walls, and flooring.
The accumulation of moisture leads to the growth of mold and mildew, which attracts pests like termites, spiders, and rats. Pests love moist environments because they need water to survive and breed and they often live off the mold and mildew spores. The excess moisture can also rot wooden beams, joists, and even pipes, and can also erode a home’s foundation over time. Soil gasses like methane and radon can also readily move from the gravel and soil beneath a home to the indoors where it gets trapped and becomes more dangerous since it is confined and therefore concentrated at significantly higher levels.
By installing a crawl space vapor barrier system, outside air infiltration will be kept at a minimum, which means your HVAC system will not have to run as often, and allergens, mold spores, and other irritants will have a harder time making their way into your ventilation system, saving energy (and money) and also ensuring the air in your home is as clean as possible. It also serves as a roadblock to prevent ground moisture from migrating into your crawl space. As far as the methane and radon gases that come from the soil, the vapor barrier is installed to prevent or at least significantly slow down the rate that these gases enter the home and divert them and the moisture through a vent pipe to the exterior of the home.
• Your floors will feel warmer in the winter. A vapor barrier is designed to resist air
movement, which essentially turns your crawl space into a semi-conditioned area and keeps
the temperature close to the living spaces above it.
• Your energy bills will decrease. It is a fact that damp air is harder to heat and cool. This means
that your HVAC system must work harder to keep your home’s temperature regulated if your
crawl space has a lot of excess moisture. So, if those electric bills keep skyrocketing, check
the humidity in your crawl space!
• You have fewer pipe repairs and the cost associated with them. Your crawl space most
likely houses many pipes that supply water and take care of drainage. Over time, moisture
causes these pipes to rot, leading to leakage and bursting. A vapor barrier will keep your pipes
dry and increase their lifespan.