If you have any suspicion that radon gas may be present in your home, it’s important that you do everything you can to quickly limit your exposure. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., and the longer you’re exposed, the greater your health risks.
The removal of this dangerous gas is often straightforward and can be accomplished fairly quickly once a system is installed. In fact, it may only take a few days for a properly installed mitigation system to remove radon from your home. However, there are several steps you need to complete before you get to that point. Those include a comprehensive inspection of your home to see the levels of radon, identification of the source and selection of the right mitigation technique for your home. All of that can add time to the process.
Read on to learn more about how quickly radon gas can be removed from your home, as well as issues that may delay this process.
What Factors Impact the Speed of Radon Removal?
In a perfect world, you could wrap up testing, install the right mitigation system and begin clearing radon from your home in a matter of hours. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. There are a number of factors that can complicate and slow down radon removal.
The Type of Test You Use:
There’s no one-size-fits-all test for radon. You can choose a DIY kit, or hire a professional. You can even choose the amount of time required for the test to be complete. All of those options come with different time requirements, which can impact how quickly you start ridding your home of this gas.
If testing speed is your greatest concern, short-term tests only need to remain in your home a few days. They give you a snapshot of the amount of radon gas in your home during that short window. However, long-term tests, which measure the year-round average amounts of radon gas, may take months.
Clearly short-term tests allow you to analyze the radon levels in your home much quicker, though you sacrifice some accuracy and seasonal insights. Remember, the EPA recommends that you take action if your radon level is 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher.
The Source of Radon:
Once radon has been found at levels that warrant removal, you need to identify the actual source. Although the EPA explains that radon can be present in well water, then become released as a gas during showering, the radon found in your soil is your greatest risk.
To test radon entry into your home from the soil, the EPA recommends using a professional contracting company that can perform a diagnostic test. Usually, this test involves using chemical smoke to map the source and direction of air movement in your home from the soil outside, into your home. Generally, this testing is focused at the lowest level of your home, whether that’s a basement, crawlspace or slab.
This testing phase adds additional time to your removal of radon gas, but it’s important. The right removal technique relies on proper identification of the source.
The Recommended Mitigation Technique
In general, most radon removal systems can be installed in a day. However, more robust mitigation systems could take longer to install. Depending on your home layout, size and recommended mitigation technique, some additional features and additional steps could lengthen this process:
- Installation of multiple fans or pumps
- Creation of multiple suction points
- Installation of a crawl space barrier
The sealing of cracks and gaps in your foundation is generally included with most mitigation techniques, though this step alone has not been shown to significantly reduce your radon levels.
It’s also important to note that any major home renovations should include radon testing as well. Major structural changes in your home, such as an addition or converting an unused basement into a finished living space, can change the level of radon present. Even if you had a radon system installed before the renovation, it’s important for you to test after as well.
How Long Does it Take for Radon Exposure to Threaten Your Health?
According to the CDC, your odds of contracting lung cancer due to radon exposure depends on a few factors:
- Do you smoke or have a history of smoking?
- Do you have elevated amounts of radon in your home?
- Do you spend a lot of time inside your home?
- Do you spend most of your time inside near areas with high concentrations of radon?
- Do you burn wood, coal or anything else that compromises your indoor air quality?
If you answered “yes” to the factors above, your risk of radon exposure may be higher, and the health risks may be accelerated.
What Temporary Steps Can You Take to Immediately Reduce Your Health Threats?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development notes that there are some steps you can take to immediately cut down on your radon exposure and associated health risks:
- Increase the airflow in your home: You can quickly and easily reduce the presence of radon gas by opening windows and using fans and vents to circulate fresh air. Note that this may make your home uncomfortable in very hot or very cold weather, but it may be a worthy tradeoff to reduce high levels of radon gas.
- Seal any cracks or gaps: These openings in your floors can allow radon gas to enter. As mentioned above, sealing with plaster, caulk or other materials is typically done in a full mitigation process, but it never hurts to do this step immediately and begin blocking any gas entry points.
How Effective Are Radon Removal Techniques?
Radon removal systems are extremely effective at removing this dangerous gas from your home. According to the EPA, some systems can remove up to 99 percent of radon gas that was present. To learn more about the effectiveness of radon systems, check out How Effective are Radon Systems at Reducing Radon Levels by Radon Systems of Connecticut.
Some professional companies even install monitors with their radon reduction equipment. These monitors will alert you if there is ever a problem with your system, offering you even more peace of mind that you’re protected. Even if a removal system stops protecting you due to a failed fan or other parts issue, your radon exposure will be limited because the monitors will alert you.
Is there Anything You Can Do to Prevent Radon Exposure?
The fastest way to end your exposure to radon is to prevent it in the first place. If you’re building a new home, you can take several preventative steps to avoid radon entering your home altogether:
- Install a barrier below your foundation or slab to prevent radon gas from penetrating and entering your home.
- Run ventilation piping from your basement or crawl space up through the roof to encourage gas to vent outside of your living space.
- Seal all cracks and gaps in your foundation to prevent radon gas from entering.
Although these techniques may significantly reduce radon exposure due to the soil surrounding your home, they won’t help you if your water is the source of exposure. Plus, these techniques only work if you’re building a brand new home. If it’s an existing structure, you’ll have to rely on the typical mitigation techniques.
Remember, radon is present throughout the nation, and there’s no way to know if your home is at risk. Because of the major health risks associated with exposure, and the relatively inexpensive testing techniques, it’s always recommended you perform a test whether you’re getting ready to buy, sell, or renovate your home.