Radon Numbers High this Year? Why is that?
Have you noticed an increase in radon gas measurements and/or radon tests failures this winter? Don't feel alone, everybody has. At HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC, providing home inspections and radon tests in Nashville and Middle Tennessee, we have seen the same thing. Why is that?
Simply put, the weather this past winter created a perfect storm for elevated radon measurement results. The EPA recommends testing for radon in the winter anyway, because winter is the time of the year when radon gas measurements should be at their highest. But this year was something not seen in a long time. The reason, the weather. This cold and wet winter season we had produced what I call a perfect storm for radon. An incubator, if you will, for elevated radon measurement results.
First the temperature. Despite all the pundits who claim we are in a period of global warming, the winter of 2009-2010 was colder than average. Colder temps mean more heating of our homes and buildings. Heating our buildings creates something called the "stack effect". The stack effect is when the hot air we use to heat our buildings rises up inside the building. When it does it pulls air from the lower areas of the building such as the basement or crawl space. Regardless, this pull of air draws air from below the building into the home to replace the rising hot air. This air that is drawn in can have radon gas and there you go, you have your stack effect and increased radon gas measurements.
Then along comes the rain or snow, and we had a lot of that in most parts of the country this year. Moisture in any form that saturates the ground causes the ground to swell. Any cracks or openings that were in the ground before can swell shut. Vapors in the ground, including radon gas, will try to escape the ground using the path of least resistance. If the ground swells shut, that path of least resistance may now be in your crawl space or below your basement. And there you go, you have an increase in radon gas penetration into the building.
Many realtors have reported higher than normal radon measurment values this winter and one realtor said every home she sold had radon gas measurements that exceeded EPA guidelines. All of them! Now you know why.
HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC
Richard Acree is the author of the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections blog at ActiveRain, WordPress and Blogger and founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors. All are welcome to join and see more blogs like this one. You can also follow HABITEC on Facebook or Linked. Thank you!