Why Does Radon Love Basements?

November 10, 2020 11:29 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Why do basements in Portland, OR have higher radon levels than other places? Generally, this is because basements are the most exposed to the sources of radon and have a larger tendency to trap it. This can create an unhealthy situation at home that will not be limited to your basement. That’s why it’s good to know why radon builds up in a basement and how to prevent it. Here is an overview to explain where radon comes from and how to control it.

Sources of radon

Radon is a byproduct of decaying uranium, which is naturally present in rock and soil. Since the basement is closest to the foundation and these conditions, it becomes the main entry point for radon in your home. Since radon is colorless and odorless, you will not be able to detect it without a test.

Entry points include exposed earth near sump pumps and drains. Other causes are part of the “stack effect,” which creates pressure that forcefully draws air between low- and high-pressure areas, and that brings in more radon. Basement appliances are often a big attractant of radon because water heaters, furnaces, exhaust fans, dryers and fireplaces can all reduce indoor air pressure and bring in the radon.

Preventing radon

Radon is harmless at low levels, as it is impossible to remove all of it. Basically, the only way you can stop it completely is to cease all decomposition in soil and rock, and that is not feasible.

That said, you can keep radon from overtaking your home and family’s health. Start by conducting regular tests to the most obvious areas of your home, like basements. If you have many appliances in the basement, check the levels immediately above your basement, especially around chimneys. Radon rarely stays in one place, and it likes to travel.

If your home is overly depressurized, install reverse chimney flow to push radon out of your home. However, this may not be an option if you have appliances in your basement, as it can cause combustion spillage.

If you have sump pumps, install, replace or seal the covers. This reduces the stack effect and closes up access to the decaying earth. That will reduce radon levels significantly.

On nice days, open up the windows and air out your home. Not only is it nice to get fresh air in your home, but this will also allow radon to escape with the air.

Finally, when the weather presents us with extremely hot or cold temperatures, be careful not to overheat or overcool your home. When you make greater demands on furnaces, heat pumps or central air conditioning, that adds to the stack effect. If you decide to consider comfort over radon, check your radon levels again once the extreme temperatures settle down and you are using heating and cooling as normal.

These tips will keep your home safe, but sometimes you need an expert. Action Mold Control LLC in Portland, OR isn’t limited to addressing mold. We also offer radon mitigation services. Contact us today if you are concerned about whether radon is building up in your basement and wish to schedule a test.

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