Radon

Michigan Radon Testing

How does radon enter your home?

Radon, because it is a gas, is able to move though spaces in the soil or fill material around a home's foundation. Michigan homes tend to operate under a negative pressure - this is especially true in the lowest portions of the home and during the heating season. This negative pressure acts as a vacuum (suction) that pulls soil gases, including radon, into the lower level of the structure. Some causes of home vacuum are:

  • Heated air rising inside the home (stack effect).
  • Wind blowing past a home (downwind draft effect).
  • Air used by fireplaces, wood stoves, and furnaces (vacuum effect).
  • Air vented to the outside by clothes dryers and exhaust fans in bathrooms, kitchens, or attics (vacuum effect).

Radon can enter a home through the floor and walls -- anywhere there is an opening between the home and the soil. Examples of such openings include dirt floor crawl spaces, unsealed sumps, cracks in slab-on-grade floors, utility penetrations, and the tiny pore spaces in concrete block walls. A basement, of course, provides a large surface area that contacts soil material.

Radon Testing in Ann Arbor Michigan - ar124477642156275

Major Radon Entry Points

  1. Cracks in concrete slabs.
  2. Spaces behind brick veneer walls that rest on uncapped hollow-block foundations.
  3. Pores and cracks in concrete blocks.
  4. Floor-wall joints.
  5. Exposed soil, as in a sump or crawl space.
  6. Weeping (drain) tile, if drained to an open sump.
  7. Mortar joints.
  8. Loose fitting pipe penetrations.
  9. Open tops of block walls.
  10. Building materials, such as brick, concrete, rock.
  11. Well water (not commonly a major source in Minnesota homes). (Information prov. by Minnesota Dept. of Health)

What happens after radon gets into the home?

Once radon enters a home it moves freely throughout the indoor air and people can breath it into their lungs where it can cause cell damage that may lead to lung cancer. Understanding how it distributes through the home environment can help explain why timing and location are important factors to consider when conducting a radon test.

The level of radon is often highest in the lower part of the building. Radon moves through a house by diffusion and natural air movements and it can be distributed by mechanical equipment such as a forced-air ventilation system. As radon moves away from the home's foundation or other entry points, it mixes (and is diluted) into a greater volume of air. In addition, more dilution often occurs in the upper levels of the home because there is more fresh air ventilation there.

Greater dilution and less house vacuum may also occur when the house is more open to the outdoors during the non-heating season. This generally results in lower indoor radon levels in the summer compared to the winter.

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