Radon?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by cc-rider, Nov 3, 2004.

  1. cc-rider

    cc-rider Baroness of TisaWee Farm Supporter

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    What exactly *causes* radon? I just bought a house and turned down the opportunity to have it tested. Now, on second thought, I'm wondering if I should have wanted it tested.

    The house is in a small community, and has a full finished basement.
     
  2. dla

    dla Well-Known Member

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    Not an expert.
    But radon is a radioactive gas which leaches up through some soils and can collect in your basement.
    It can be as severe a cancer risk as smoking cigarettes. If I planned to have one of my kids live in the basement, I'd defintely get it tested.

    Control usually just consists of getting some circulation down there to allow the gas to escape.
     

  3. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    Get the test. It doesn't cost much to know if it's a problem, and if there is a radon issue, you can use it as a negotiating tool for the purchase price of the house. After the results are in, the sellers must disclose it to any other potential buyers, so they're much more willing to negotiate with a serious buyer than to take a chance on others freaking out about the radon. If you really want the house, you should know what you're getting into.
     
  4. Mel in N.C.

    Mel in N.C. Active Member

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    I live in central N.C. Because of a higher incidence of radon here, our county's(Guilford) Environmental Health Dept. offered radon testing for free. Our first test came back high. We were on vacation (doors staying shut) during the 2nd test and it was higher. If I remember right, I was still not convinced and purchased a more expensive test (longer term) to confirm the bad news.

    Well, the fix wasn't all that bad. We found a book entitled "Protecting Your Home from Radon - A Step-By-Step Manual for Radon Reduction". My husband did this project himself. It basically involved cutting a hole in the concrete floor and in the wall. Between the two is a pipe. Where the pipe goes to the outside there is a fan (outside) that runs continually to pull air out from under the basement.

    The real down side is that we heat with wood. Pulling cooler air under the basement floor in the winter causes us to burn much, much more wood. I do have young children and was concerned for their health more so than my own. My parents who live next door also had a radon test that came back positive. I think that they think I'm crazy. They have chosen not to do anything about it. They built the house new about 46 years ago. They've live in it all this time and I think healthwise they are doing very well for their age. They can work circles around me. They are in their early seventies.

    In September of 2000, the fan system costs us just under $400 (not including pipe, drill bits, labor). The fix was simple but not necessarily easy. Cutting through the concrete and cement block was not easy. I can't remember if my husband used tools we had or rented tools. Perhaps different tools could have made the job easier. Check out the website www.radonpds.com. This is where we ordered the fan. It quit after about 3 months. They replaced it no charge for which we were very thankful. We found them to be good people to deal with.

    I hope you don't have a radon problem but I think it's worth testing especially if other houses in the area are known to have radon. I see where the company is now selling a mat you can put under the concrete for new construction.

    Good luck to you!
    Mel in N.C.
     
  5. TheBlueOne

    TheBlueOne Well-Known Member

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    Mel,
    Have you had the home tested for radon since the fan was put in? What kind of reduction in radon is observed?

    Somebody here in our county recently had an "approved" radon reduction system installed in their house to the tune of $2000. What they got was a bunch of plastic collector pipe ran all over the basement and vented outside. There was a big writeup w/ pictures in the local paper where the homeowner said she felt "much safer". Whatever. I like Mel's appraoch a lot better.


    Check out Radon article for an informative radon article.
     
  6. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Well-Known Member

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    We had this hole and pipe system installed in 1991 for $1000, by the guy who was making a mint after finding his house had radon. He went thru the radiation detectors at Limerick Power Plant where he worked and was the first big radon story. I don't begrudge him his money, the fan was $300, but you could do the same yourself for less. Radon is found where there is alot of granite and will simply escape thru the easiest means, i.e. a crack in your floor. Ours was borderline and was taken down to almost nothing. The fan quit many years ago however and although a passive system can work, I have never tested to see how it is doing. It is pretty routine to test before sale around here.
     
  7. mistletoad

    mistletoad Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I worked for a general contractor some years ago and we did a lot of radon remediation jobs. The first step was to seal the slab - caulking around the edges and every crack in the slab, this stops the fan extracting air from the basement or the house. Then we drilled a hole through the slab and ran pipe up to a fan and out to above the gutter line (must be 10 feet above ground and a set distance from windows - sometimes the hardest part was designing the system to meet code). The whole system creats a vacuum - when firing up the fan for the first time we would test for a vaccum (a liquid guage was installed) and seal any remaining cracks if necessary. It was a one day job with the contractor and one or two helpers.
    Mel, sounds like you need to seal the slab so it is only pulling air from beneath the slab and not from your house.
     
  8. Mel in N.C.

    Mel in N.C. Active Member

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    We have a continuous radon monitor in our basement. I recently replaced it. I think lightening may have gotten the first one. The old one would read 0.5 pCi. I just went downstairs to look at the new one and it's reading 0 pCi.

    We did seal the cracks in the basement. Actually, we did that first hoping that would be enough - but it wasn't. Perhaps I'm wrong but we really feel just the fan moving the air underneath the slab makes the house harder to heat.
     
  9. caberjim

    caberjim Stableboy III

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    Radon is one of the biggest scams going. I had a relative with the FDA back when a house we had test "high" for radon. She told us the numbers set by the FDA were pulled out of the air because they have no real idea what the dangerous levels might be. Unless you are already a multi-pack a day smoker, you have little to no danger from radon.

    Think about how much the hype has grown over the past 10 years. And how many "mitigation" companies are in business. And just how much money people are making off of radon mitigation.

    http://www.junkscience.com/may00/fumrad.htm