Today, I am talking about family safety. For those who have not read my “About Me” recently we moved from one little town in Iowa to another bigger little town in Iowa. A prominent issue we have right now is fixing the radon level in our new home.
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What is Radon?
Radon is a natural gas which comes up through the ground. It is completely undetectable- no odor, taste, or visibility. It is my understanding the element itself is not harmful, but the natural decay it is constantly undergoing causes it to be radioactive and harmful.
Being that we live in the Midwest, we have always been a little aware the houses we have flipped, rented, and live in have a high probability of the existence of radon. Among the seller disclosure paperwork and the lead disclosures paperwork, radon fact sheets and disclosures are required paperwork during a sale of a home here. In our experience, that paperwork gets lost in all of the others and is too casually initialed and signed. The real estate agent asks for all of the signatures, and because radon and lead are so common, it gets presented with a shrug and a “that’s just how it is” type of attitude.
The Danger Facts about Radon
- Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers.
- Radon’s unit of measurement is actually measuring the amount of radioctive outputs
(picocuries) per second per liter and abbreviated as pCi/l.
- If your home contains a radon level of 4 pCi/l, it is equivalent to the amount of radiation from 10 cigarettes a day.
We signed the disclosures with the shrug of our shoulders as we excitedly went through the house buying process. Then, we tested for radon, which I will tell you more about how we did that. We tested at 21 pCi/l. If you do that proportion, my family and I were being exposed to the radioactivity the equivalent of about 50 cigarettes a day. What the heck!?
I want to say that cigarettes, of course, contain other carcinogens on top of their radioactive components. Still, I am not interested in my 3 year old and my baby being exposed to this. If we can do something, I want to.
Who is at Risk?
Anyone can have radon since it is a naturally occurring element in our earth, but the Environmental Protection Agency has mapped out where the levels seem highest. The gas seeps out in mysterious spots, I envision like natural springs, so one spot can be higher than others just down the street.
Here is the EPA map of the radon levels in the United States.
What Can You Do?
The testing for radon in the house do not come without a cost. Everything about the testing and the elimination is kind of costly. If you hire a radon specialist, which I do not advise against, it tends to be expensive. With what I have seen for quotes, it can run between $1000-$2000 after tests and installation has been done. I again, do think it is a very worthy investment of your family’s health, so call some local mitigation/radon specialists and see!
How We Are Resolving It DIY
My husband took the matters into his own hands, and did some research to make his own mitigation system. Our Radon tester is down from the 21 to 11.7 pCi/l, and it continues to go down. Supposedly, these systems can reduce the radon up to 98%. My husband installed a DIY mitigation air exchange last week, which has created a passage for the radon gas to go through his tube system and out of the house, rather then seeping into our house.
I will say, the weather has warmed up, so we have also been opening windows, which this also contributes. I apologize for a not very controlled experiment, but we want the radon gone.
My husband, my amazing, handy, problem-solving man, set to work on this project. Here are some of the components he ordered, from where, and the cost:
He ordered the tester (Safety Siren Pro Series 3) online- $150
He also ordered the mitigation fan (AMG Legend) online – $120 [I couldn’t find the specific AMG brand we used, but here is another my husband said was a good brand Fantech HP 2190Q 4″ Radon Fan | HP2190 Efficient Quiet Mitigation]
He bought a U-tube Vacuum Monitor online- $10
He bought the (4″ Schedule 40 PVC 10′ sticks X4) from our local hardware store – $80 total
He bought Concrete Caulking from a hardware store- $5
Total cost- $365
1.) He began drilling a hole in the basement concrete floor to hit peat gravel and dirt below. This took the longest amount of time, since he used a hammer drill rather then renting a core drill. He regretted that decision, and will rent next time. Radon is a gas, so it finds the path of least resistance (the hole created, rather than seeping through the concrete and into your home).
2.) He built up PVC forming a path to the side of the house and configuring an exit point out into the garage.
3.) He created another hole at that exit point.
4.) He installed the fan at the exit point which pulls the radon out through the pipes.
5.) He sealed up the cracks and the space around the PVC in the basement floor.
6.) Installed the U-tube vacuum onto a the PVC piping at eye level.
The most daunting part probably is putting holes through your house. The installation itself otherwise is pretty straightforward. Put the pipes together to direct the airway out of the house, put the fan on the end, seal, and you are done. We hope to make a video of him installing the system for a friend, since I failed to document it for our home. Here are some pictures! I hope this helps!