DIY Tips to Reduce Radon Levels
While using a certified company to both test for and mitigate the radon in your home, there are some simple DIY tips to reduce radon levels that don't require a third party. Radon is a dangerous gas that is present nearly everywhere, and almost any home can have elevated levels. Radon gas is composed of radioactive particles that, when breathed in, damage the cells lining your lungs, increasing your risk of developing lung cancer. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, which has a five-year survival rate of 55% if caught early, which only happens 16% of the time.
Radon is colorless, tasteless and odorless; you'll never know it's there unless you test for it. Present in rocks and soil, the outdoor average radon level is 0.4 pCi/L. If radon gas is released from the rocks and dirt beneath your home, your indoor level can be significantly higher than 0.4 pCi/L. While there is no ‘safe' level of radon, the U.S. EPA has an action level of 4.0 pCi/L, meaning if your home tests at this level or higher, you should mitigate it quickly.
DIY TIPS TO REDUCE RADON LEVELS: HOW DOES IT GET INTO YOUR HOME?
Radon gas enters your home through a suction-like process. The air pressure inside your home is typically lower than the pressure in the soil below and surrounding your foundation. This pressure difference turns your house into a vacuum, sucking radon out of the ground and moving it upward into the living space through foundation cracks and gaps. The gas is then trapped inside your home, where it can build to dangerous levels.
DIY TIPS TO REDUCE RADON LEVELS: HOW DOES TESTING WORK?
Radon levels indoors vary from day to day and season to season, based on factors like how many windows and doors are open, and your HVAC system usage. Therefore, there are two types of tests—short-term and long-term. For a quick snapshot of your radon levels, usually preferred in real estate transactions, a short-term test lasts from 3 to 90 days. Long-term tests give a broader picture of level fluctuations, lasting 91 days or longer. Long-term tests give you a better sense of what is happening in your home from day to day as well as season to season.
Testing is done through a device placed in your lowest level of living, not the lowest level of the entire home. The goal is to find the radon level your family is actively breathing in. Results come back measured in picocuries per liter of air, pCi/L. While the EPA action level is 4.0 pCi/L, anything below 2.0 pCi/L is preferred.
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DIY TIPS TO REDUCE RADON LEVELS: HOW TO REDUCE WITHOUT A MITIGATION SYSTEM
Always start with testing your home. If your levels come back high, you need to find a way to reduce them. It can be exceedingly difficult to reduce your radon level sufficiently without installing a mitigation system, but if you're wary about installation cost and labor, try using a few DIP tips to reduce radon levels.
- Ventilation, ventilation, ventilation
The second-best way to reduce your radon level, after a mitigation system, is airing out the home. Ventilate the lowest level of the house, whether that be a crawlspace, basement, or if you have a slab foundation, the living area. If you have a basement you are ventilating, it may be more cost-effective and comfortable to close it off and limit its use. Open the windows. Open all of them, or as many as you can, and create a cross breeze. When radon rises to the surface of the ground outdoors, it dissipates when it hits the air. The same thing happens when you open your windows. The trapped gas dissipates in the fresh air. Open your windows as often as you can, weather permitting. If it rained the last four days and all the windows were firmly shut, you can assume your level has risen again. Open the windows and even the doors and let the radon reduce itself.
- Seal your cracks Remember, radon rises into the home through cracks and gaps in your foundation, basement, and flooring. Find all the breaks you can, and seal them with caulk or epoxy sealant. It will be hard to find and seal every crack but fixing enough of them will make an impact on your radon level, which is great, no matter how small that impact may be.
- Prevent house depressurization
Exhaust fans and combustion units such as wood stoves and fireplaces can lower the air pressure inside your home, and the lower the indoor air pressure is compared to the soil beneath, the more radon gas enters the house. If you have an exhaust fan or combustion unit that must be used, open windows located near them or install a permanent system to supply outdoor air to the units. If you have an HVAC system with cold-air return registers in the basement, seal them off to reduce leakage of basement air into your air ducts.
Once you've moved through the DIY tips to reduce radon levels, test your home again. If the level has fallen, continue with what you've been doing because it's working. If the level is the same or higher, you should bite the bullet and install a mitigation system.
DIY TIPS TO REDUCE RADON LEVELS: HOW TO START THE PROCESS
Reducing your radon levels is essential. Almost any home can have elevated levels, and long-term exposure can lead to a lung cancer diagnosis anywhere from five to 25 years down the line. The goal of DIY reduction and a full mitigation system is to lower your radon level to below the EPA's action level of 4.0 pCi/L or more ideally below 2.0 pCi/L.
Your first step should always be testing. Test now and test often. Whether you use the DIY tips to reduce radon levels, or you install a professional system, you need to know if your efforts are working. Find a local, certified company to perform testing and, if required, install your radon mitigation system.
More info? For more information about DIY projects in your home, check out our other post: DIY OR HIRE A PRO: WHAT TO CONSIDER
Call 877-957-5670 to schedule an appointment with an AdvantaClean radon specialist today!