As we begin to switch seasons, it’s time to think about the health of our home. Do radon levels change throughout the year? Are they higher at one time as opposed to another?
Are Radon Levels Higher in Summer or Winter?
Homeowners in the Midwest should have their homes tested for radon gas a couple times a year, as the levels can vary from season to season. Most radon tests are short-term and give you a good idea of levels at that time, but not for the whole year. If your home passed the test during one time of the year, you should redo the test again during a different time of year.
It has been shown that radon levels can be higher during the winter, due to a couple of causes. In the winter, when you heat your home, there is something called the chimney effect that occurs. Heat rises, pulling air from the lower portions of your home, like your basement or crawl space into the living areas of your home. The radon gas comes from the earth below your foundation, so it is coming up through the floor, then into the rest of the home. In addition, we usually seal up our homes nice and tight in the winter. This keeps the cold out but keeps the air inside: the air that is contaminated with radon gases.
The EPA suggests that the action level for radon contamination is 4.0 picocuries per liter of air. Your home may be below this level in July, but is it during December or January?
Radon Levels Increase in the Winter
As stated above, there are some causes for increased radon levels in the winter. Our area can have some long and brutal winters, so it is important that you know why it is important to test for radon in the winter months.
Snow and Ice Blockades
If you’ve spent any time in the Iowa and Nebraska area during the winter, you know that we can have a LOT of snow and ice. It can be a pain to get around in and most people get really tired of shoveling and slipping around it. This snow and ice can also cause radon problems as the frozen areas can prevent radon gas from leaving the soil outside of your home. If the gas can’t escape there, guess where it will escape? Through the soil under your home and through your foundation, entering your living space.
We briefly discussed the chimney effect earlier in this blog. This is also called the stack effect and you may have heard it discussed in relation to mold and mildew in your home. The air rises in your home and escapes through the top. This causes a pressure difference, so air has to enter to equalize the air pressure. Most homes built in the last 50 years are airtight around doors and windows, for all practical purposes, so the air has to enter through your foundation, the sump pit, or around plumbing and vents that leave the house. Radon gas comes along for the ride.
Another reason that you should have your radon levels tested during different times of the year is that radon is caused by decaying radium that is found naturally in the soil. The levels of radon can change depending on the amount of radium that has reached a point of decay.
In addition, radon can be pushed by pressure in the soil. If the ground is oversaturated or is under pressure for other reasons, it can push radon gas through the foundation of your home. This can vary throughout the year, so it’s important to get samplings at different times.
Jerry’s Waterproofing and Radon Mitigation Systems
Radon tests are pretty affordable and can be literal lifesavers if they detect high radon content. Fortunately, Jerry’s Waterproofing can help you with quality radon mitigation systems. This isn’t something you will want to wait on. The longer you wait, the more radon gas you and your family will be exposed to.
Contact Jerry’s Waterproofing today to learn more about radon testing and our mitigation services. We want to help keep your home safe for you and your family.