In Connecticut, there are a lot of very old homes interspersed with brand new homes, as well as everything in between. While it’s not a hard and fast rule, in general, newer homes tend to be more energy-efficient than older homes. While an old house might have drafts from gaps in insulation and small cracks in the wood and foundation, a newer house is likely to have even insulation and newer, denser materials.
It’s important to understand that when it comes to radon, the gas does not discriminate. If there is a lot of radon in your area, and in Connecticut, there tend to be high levels of radon in homes, you have as much a chance of having the gas present in your new, relatively airtight home as you would in an older, drafty home. This is why it’s essential for every homeowner to have their house tested for radon and to have the radon mitigated if the levels are found to be higher than what is acceptable for good health.
Here are a few facts about radon levels:
The safest level of radon is no radon at all. Having radon in your home, like most people do, is a risk factor for lung cancer. Unfortunately, it would be virtually impossible to have levels of zero, simply because it is a gas that exists and is present in the ground.
If your home has a radon level of less than 2 picocuries per liter, or pCi/L, your home is considered to have a normal level of radon and does not, in most cases, need mitigation.
If your home’s radon level is between 2 and 4 pCi/L, radon mitigation will probably help to lower it and should be considered.
If the home’s radon level is over 4 pCi/L, prompt mitigation is necessary, because this is a health hazard. Your family’s risk of developing lung cancer can be quite high if you do not have the radon gas removed through mitigation.
When you have your home tested for radon, certain steps will need to be taken. These include keeping windows shut and limiting the number of times that doors are opened. If you have a sealed, energy-efficient house, your radon levels might be higher than someone in your neighborhood with an older home that tends to be drafty. While a drafty home can allow more radon to blow in, it also allows radon to blow out. With a better-sealed home, the radon that enters the home tends to stay there, accumulating over time. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that if you live in a drafty old home, you are safe from radon, because this is not necessarily the case; any home can have high readings, and Connecticut is known for being a place that tends to have a lot of radon.
So, what should you do about high radon levels in a new or old home? Here are some considerations to keep in mind:
Newer homes are often built with radon mitigation systems built in. If you are living in a newer home with a radon mitigation system but you still have high levels of radon, you will need to see if the system is malfunctioning. Radon Systems of Connecticut can test, service and maintain your system for you.
If you have an older home that has previously tested at normal radon levels, be aware that air-sealing your home can raise the levels due to less air moving in and out of the home. Once your upgrades are done, have your radon level tested again; it’s possible that you will now need mitigation. (Don’t let this stop you from taking the steps to make your home more energy-efficient, by the way; adding a radon mitigation system will be less expensive in the long run than it would be to continue having an inefficient home.)
There will be a lot of considerations that the radon mitigation company will keep in mind when installing mitigation equipment in an older home. For example, we will need to know what type of fill is under your basement or slab, the square footage of your basement, and whether there are any crawl spaces. Some of this information you will already know, but if you don’t, we can find out.
If you are having a new home built in an area with high levels of radon (such as in New England, the Midwest and the northern sections of the West), it’s usually worth it to have a radon mitigation system built in. Those building homes in Connecticut can call Radon Systems of Connecticut to learn more about this.
Whether your home is new or old, drafty or air-sealed, mitigated or not, you should have radon tests run every few years to be sure that the levels have not risen. Sometimes levels do rise for no discernible reason, and since radon is such a threat, it is prudent to check periodically. The test is inexpensive and your family’s health is worth it.
If you have questions about radon mitigation in your home, no matter its age, size or efficiency, please call Radon Systems of Connecticut for more information about the various types of testing and mitigation available.