Radon in The Home

Any home may have a radon problem
Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Your home traps radon inside, where it can build up. Any home may have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements.
Radon from soil gas is the main cause of radon problems. In a small number of homes, the building materials can give off radon, too. However, building materials rarely cause radon problems by themselves.

Radon can get in through:

  • Cracks in solid floors
  • Construction joints
  • Cracks in walls
  • Gaps in suspended floors
  • Gaps around service pipes
  • Cavities inside walls
  • The water supply

Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels, 1 in 3 homes in Colorado.   Colorado has extremely high levels of radon in its soils with 52 of 64 Colorado counties at high risk.  According to test data compiled by CDPHE, 46% of the homes in Colorado have radon levels above the EPA action level of 4PCi/L.  Contact the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment—CDPHE for more information about radon in your schools and workplaces.  While radon problems may be more common in some areas, any home may have a problem.  The only way to know about your home is to test.

How to Test Your Home
You can't see radon, but it's not hard to find out if you have a radon problem in your home. 
A simple test you can do yourself will tell you if you need to take action to lower radon levels in your home. A coupon for $15 test kits is available on the CDPHE website. If the concentration of radon is more than 4 pCi/L you should take action to lower the radon levels in your home.

For links and information, visit www.epa.gov/radon/radontest.html.

How to lower Radon Levels in Your Home
Radon Reduction Techniques
There are several methods a contractor can use to lower radon levels in your home. Some techniques prevent radon from entering your home while others reduce radon levels after it has entered. The EPA generally recommends methods which prevent the entry of radon. Soil suction, for example, prevents radon from entering your home by drawing the radon from below the home and venting it through a pipe, or pipes, to the air above the home where it is quickly diluted.

Any information that you may have about the construction of your home could help your contractor choose the best system. Your contractor will perform a visual inspection of your home and design a system that considers specific features of your home. If this inspection fails to provide enough information, the contractor will need to perform diagnostic tests during the initial phase of the installation to help develop the best radon reduction system for your home. For instance, your contractor can use chemical smoke to find the source and direction of air movement. A contractor can learn air flow sources and directions by watching a small amount of smoke that he or she shot into holes, drains, sumps, or along cracks. The sources of air flow show possible radon routes. A contractor may have concerns about back-drafting of combustion appliances when considering radon mitigation options, and may recommend that the homeowner have the appliances checked by a qualified inspector.

Another type of diagnostic test is a soil communication test. This test uses a vacuum cleaner and chemical smoke to determine how easily air can move from one point to another under the foundation. By inserting a vacuum cleaner hose in one small hole and using chemical smoke in a second small hole, a contractor can see if the smoke is pulled down into the second hole by the force of the vacuum cleaner's suction. Watching the smoke during a soil communication test helps a contractor decide if certain radon reduction systems would work well in your home.

Whether diagnostic tests are needed is decided by details specific to your home, such as the foundation design, what kind of material is under your home, and by the contractor's experience with similar homes and similar radon test results.

Select a State Certified and/or Qualified Radon Mitigation Contractor
Choose a qualified radon mitigation contractor to fix your home. Start by checking with the Colorado Environmental Protection Agency for more information about local contractors. 

Radon Reduction Techniques Work
Radon reduction systems work. Some radon reduction systems can reduce radon levels in your home by up to 99 percent. Most homes can be fixed for about the same cost as other common home repairs. Your costs may vary depending on the size and design of your home and which radon reduction methods are needed. Get an estimate from one or more qualified radon mitigation contractors. Hundreds of thousands of people have reduced radon levels in their homes.

Maintain Your Radon Reduction System
Maintaining your radon reduction system takes little effort and keeps the system working properly and radon levels low. See Maintaining Your Radon Reduction System.