Monday, August 20, 2018

At Home

Radon can sneak into home through cracks in basement

Radon is a gas that occurs naturally when uranium in soil and rocks breaks down. 

Because air pressure in the home is usually lower than the pressure in the soil, a house can act like a vacuum that draws radon into the home. Radon can also be found in well water. 

Marathon County, where I live, is considered a hot spot in the U.S. because of all of the granite we have. 

But there are other areas in Wisconsin that have the same problems.

Radon is a radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. 

It is estimated that 1 out of 15 homes in the country have elevated radon levels. 

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Surgeon General recommend that homes be tested for radon levels. It is further recommended that homes with a radon reading of 4 or more pCi/​L (Pico curies of gas per liter of air) use a radon reduction technique to reduce that level. 

If there are cracks in the basement and an open sump pit, these areas should be sealed. After that’s done, a retest may be in order. For areas where levels test above 4, or in basements with no cracks or open sump pits, have a mitigation system installed by a professional radon mitigation system installer. 

So, don’t worry. If you have high levels of radon, they can be easily remedied.

A general home inspection does not include inspecting the home for radon. Most home inspectors add radon testing to the services they offer. 

Some inspectors test for radon by placing special canisters in the home for a period of time. 

These canisters, which absorb radon from the air, must besent to a qualifiedlaboratory where the radon concentrations can be determined.The other testing method, which I employ andprefer, is the computer monitor that is placed in the home for 48 hours. 

When the testing is done, the inspector goes back and prints out theresults on site. I have found this method is more accurate.

If you have questions on radon, don’t hesitateto contact your localhealth department to learn more.

Duerkop is a licensed homeinspector and serves aspresident and education director of the Wisconsin Association of Home Inspectors for the central and northern Wisconsin chapters. To submit a question to him, call 1-866-715-8222 or email

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