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Old 04-24-2012, 04:49 PM   #1
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Radon in Basement...


Hi,

A little background: I live in a new construction townhouse (about two years old). My main concern is radon and a 10 month old baby.

I have used a long-term radon test (about a year) and the result of the test is that I have 5.4 pCi/L. I know that it's considered to be high and that I need to do something about it to reduce the level. Is there an "easy" way to lower the level?

We have a sump pump hole with a lid. I'm not sure if it needs to be sealed down with caulk or something...

I was just wondering if you guys could help me out in resolving this issue.

Thank you in advance!

Btw, I've read in another forum that radon is just another scare tactic... Thoughts about that?

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Old 04-24-2012, 07:21 PM   #2
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Radon in Basement...


Google search EPA Radon recommendations.

We have elevated levels as well. 8pCi/L There is a link to a report detailing the expected rates of Lung Cancer at elevated levels. Its laughable. I guess if someone was the kind of person who worries about getting struck by lightning or attacked by a shark they might be significant but otherwise, I was unimpressed.

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Old 04-25-2012, 06:39 AM   #3
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Radon in Basement...


Quote:
Its laughable. I guess if someone was the kind of person who worries about getting struck by lightning or attacked by a shark they might be significant but otherwise, I was unimpressed.
Ayuh,... Ditto that,.... Right up there with the Bullship 'bout 2nd hand cigarette smoke...
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Old 04-25-2012, 08:28 AM   #4
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Radon in Basement...


Having worked in the nuclear energy field for over 30 years, I can categorically say that residential radon migitigation is a total waste of money. Unless you live in your basement 24/7/365, your risk from radon exposure is vanishingly small. There are many, many other things that will get you first.
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Old 04-25-2012, 10:12 AM   #5
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Radon in Basement...


The increase in skin cancer among those who use tanning booths is much more scary than basement radon.

However, radiation exposure is cumulative and anything SENSIBLE you can do to reduce exposure is worth considering.
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Old 04-25-2012, 10:22 AM   #6
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Radon in Basement...


http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/consguid.html

Radon isnt a scare tactic, although most people freak out about it if their house has higher then normal levels. Certain regions have higher levels then others, and if you're up on a mountain, rocky area, you'll likely have higher levels. But its easily remedied.

If the high levels of Radon have you concerned, and your levels are indeed above normal, hire a radon mitigation company to come in and give you an estimate for a mitigation system.

The main thing is to seal all basement cracks, all openings, then have a system that draws the air beneath the soil and then vent it up above the roof line. Then retest to verify the levels. Most mitigation systems will get the levels down to around zero. There will be a constant running fan to provide the suction, but its not expensive on your electrical bills, and theres no real maintenance after its installed, just periodically verify the pressure setup is working.

Sidenote, in talking with many builders, many now build homes with the system installed and believe that over the next decade or so, most new houses will be required to have a radon system, like fire alarms. So its fairly common, and easy to remedy.
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:08 AM   #7
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Radon in Basement...


Thank you for your input!

I've read that radon mitigation systems are around $1k which is pretty steep. I've also read that a good sump cover "could" lower the radon level and I do have a sump cover with a small hole that could contribute to the radon level. What are your thoughts about that? Since the basement is finished, that's all that I can think of that could possibly decrease the radon level.

I have read the information about radon level and the risk is pretty low. It would be nice to lower the level (thanks for the brainwashing EPA...), but I'm not going to go overboard as to install a mitigation system which will cost $$$$.

Think a better sump cover would help? Is there anything else I could do that you can think of?
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:21 AM   #8
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I live in a split foyer in Maine so we spend a fair amount of time below grade. I am planning to have my house tested soon for a few reasons:

-My neighbor had very high radon levels.
-I have a sump pump hole.
-My father died from lung cancer last year. He quit smoking in 1960 but lived in our home longer than anyone else. Kinda makes me wonder.
-I have all new windows which means there is much less fresh air exchange now.

$1,000 gamble seems reasonable when you are talking about even a .001% chance with your life.
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Old 04-26-2012, 09:28 AM   #9
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Radon in Basement...


Hello. Disclosure: I am the Health Canada Atlantic Region Radiation Specialist and radon is one of my main responsibilities. In addition to sealing your sump pit (special covers are available: http://www.basementsystems.com/sump-...ump-cover.html), and since the basement is finished so you can't check for and seal any cracks, including in particular the perimeter of the slab, there is one more thing to consider as a do-it-yourselfer. You can install a special floor drain fitting: http://www.radondetect.ca/store/Dran...oor-drain.html. This will prevent any gas from coming up the floor drain (assuming you have one) while allowing water to go down.

I highly recommend getting an estimate from a mitigation contractor, though. The cost is well within the range of major maintenance items on your home. For example, replacing your roof will be much more expensive.
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Old 04-26-2012, 09:47 AM   #10
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Radon in Basement...


Thank you for your input.

Do you happen to know what is different between the normal sump pit covers versus the special Radon covers (ie, construction, etc)? Also, I don't quite understand special floor drain fitting works. Does that go in the sump pit?

I guess it doesn't hurt to have a contractor take a look. It doesn't cost to get an estimate, right?
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:14 AM   #11
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Radon in Basement...


The Dranjer floor drain fittings have float valves which will open to allow water to run down the drain but are otherwise closed to prevent soil gas from coming up. The model I linked for you is designed specifically for retrofit installations, but there are several other designs available. There are probably also companies besides Dranjer that sell these valves; they just happen to have come up first in my search.

The sump pit covers I linked to actually come with this type of floor drain fitting built into the covers. However, if you have a floor drain separate from your sump pit, it would need to have a separate fitting installed.

The primary differences between the anti-radon sump pit covers and other designs is that they are made to seal in the radon. There are gaskets at all the joints and seals at all penetrations. While you can seal other cover designs, it is both more difficult to do and more chancy as to whether it will work or not. Also, if maintenance is ever required on the sump pump, the special anti-radon covers are easy to remove and re-install without compromising the seals. (You may need to have a contractor install them initially, unless you're very handy.)

BTW, a radon mitigation contractor will install both sump-pit covers and floor drain fittings. They will probably do these things only if that is your desire. Then you can re-test your home's radon level and decide whether more is required.

By the way,
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:31 AM   #12
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Radon in Basement...


Thank you, Brian.

I don't believe I have any floor drains other than the sump pit. Oh, I do have another pit (I think) in case I wanted to build a bathroom in the basement, but that's completely covered with a cover. Do you think I would need a special cover for that one?

If you had to guess on a price estimate to install the special covers, how much do you think it would be? (Just to get somewhat of an idea)
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:44 AM   #13
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Radon in Basement...


I don't think you need a special cover for the hole(s) for a possible future bathroom, but you should make sure that the existing cover is sealed to the floor slab. If it's a piece of plywood, for example, it should be caulked to the slab.

I have very little basis to make a price estimate, so I hesitate to do that, but I think the covers themselves can be purchased for between $30 and $120, depending on the design and manufacturer. The installation can be more or less complicated depending on whether the cover is designed for retrofit installations or not. I'm sure you can get an estimate for such an installation from a mitigation contractor, though.
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:48 AM   #14
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Thank you very much, Brian.
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Old 04-26-2012, 11:10 AM   #15
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You're welcome.

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