How Radon Gas Enters the Home

Radon is an odourless, colourless tasteless gas that poses a serious health hazard when people are exposed to high levels over time. In this article, we’ll take a look at how radon gas enters the home in the first place, how to test for it and what you can do if you have high levels in your house. 

What Is Radon Gas? 

Before we explore how radon gas enters the home, it’s important to fully understand what radon gas is. Radon is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas. Radon gas, like carbon monoxide, is considered an indoor air pollutant and health hazard. However, unlike carbon monoxide, which can become deadly very quickly, radon gas impacts your health over a long period of time. 

how radon gas enters your home

Some level of radon gas is found in all homes in Ontario. Why? Radon gas naturally occurs in the environment. The gas is produced when the heavy metal uranium decays. Uranium is found in the earth’s crust and some areas have higher amounts than others.

As uranium decays, it releases a radioactive gas–this gas is radon. Since uranium decays underground, radon is emitted from the ground. Because of this, the highest concentration of radon is usually found in basements, however, any area of the home can be affected.

How Radon Gas Enters The Home

There are a number of ways that radon gas enters the home. In most cases, radon gas will seep into your home from your basement (or another lower level, such as a crawlspace). Some of the most common ways that high concentrations of radon gas get into the home include: 

  • Cracks in your foundation floor
  • Cracks in your foundational walls
  • Poorly sealed windows or other openings 
  • Gaps around hydro entries or sump pumps 
  • Through floor drains 
  • Spaces or cavities inside walls 
  • Gaps around support posts or construction joints

Even minor infrastructure issues, like a small crack or gap can cause radon to seep into your home. Some areas also have high-occurring levels of radon due to the natural environment and geography. For example, much of Southern Ontario has naturally high levels of radon gas. 

Between 2009 and 2011, Health Canada conducted Canada-wide surveys to monitor the level of radon gas in the average home. This data was collected for cities across the nation. See the map below to find out the results for Southern Ontario. 

Most of Southern Ontario is in a designated “Zone 1 – High” area, meaning that there is a higher likelihood your home will have elevated levels of radon gas in it. Other areas designed Zone 2 and Zone 3 are less likely to have elevated levels. However, each home is unique. Your neighbour could have high levels of radon gas while your home has lower levels. There are so many factors that can increase or decrease your chances of having high levels of radon in your home. 

What is Considered “High” Radon Levels?

It is not possible to entirely avoid radon gas. It is everywhere, and all homes in Canada have some level of radon gas in them. Uranium naturally occurs in the environment and will continue to go through the decomposition cycle, creating radon gas. There is no guaranteed safe level of radon gas exposure, however, we know that high levels are unsafe. The Canadian guideline for radon gas in the home is 200 Bq/m3. When radon gas levels in the home exceed 200 Bq/m3, Health Canada considers that a hazard. 

If you conduct a test and find out your home has higher than the Canadian guideline, it is important to contact a radon gas mitigation company. Below, we’ll discuss how to conduct a test and what to do if you find high levels of radon gas in your home. But first, let’s take a further look at why radon gas can be so dangerous.

Radon Gas and Your Health

Radon is a radioactive gas. Radiation exposure can damage our cells and lead to an increased chance of developing cancer. Prolonged exposure to radon gas can damage the tissue in your lungs. Did you know that radon gas is number one cause of lung cancer in non-smoking individuals?

When radon gas is found in high levels in your home, you will breathe it in along with oxygen. This radioactive gas then decays into radioactive particles, and these particles emit energy inside of your lungs. This process causes damage to your lung tissue. If damage to your lung tissue happens consistently over time, it increases the chance that you will get lung cancer. 

Are there any symptoms of radon gas exposure? 

Unlike carbon monoxide, which can cause symptoms upon exposure, there are no symptoms of radon gas exposure. Sadly, the only symptoms associated with radon gas exposure are lung cancer symptoms. Symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
  • New or worsening cough 
  • Hoarseness 
  • Pain or tightness in the chest
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Coughing blood 

Because there are no acute symptoms of radon gas exposure and the gas itself is odourless, colourless and tasteless, it is extremely important to get your home tested. There is no way of knowing if your home has high levels of radon gas in it without conducting a test. 

Radon Gas Tests

To accurately test for radon gas in your home, you need to conduct a test over time. Radon gas levels can significantly fluctuate, so one high or one low reading won’t really tell you much. You need to conduct a test for a minimum of three months (91 days) to get an accurate reading. 

One of the most common and easiest ways to test for radon is by purchasing and using a dosimeter. It is important to install the dosimeter on the lowest level of your home that you spend at least a few hours on each day. To get the most accurate reading, you will want to test a part of your home that you actually use. For example, if you only have a crawlspace that you use for storage and rarely go into, it’s best to test a floor up. 

Testing is very easy and is recommended for all households in Southern Ontario. You can easily purchase a 91-day dosimeter online and install it yourself at home. You can also contact a radon gas mitigation company to install the kit for you. Although these kits are designed to be easily used by homeowners, some families prefer to work with the professionals–because the test takes 91 days to complete, you want to make sure it is installed correctly and on the right level of your home. If you make a mistake, you will have to re-do the test and wait another three months for your results! 

There are also other testing options. For example, you could purchase a more complex air quality monitor such as the AirThings Corentium Monitor. This device shows you both short-term and long-term radon readings, giving you a thorough insight into the radon levels of your home. Learn more about different testing options and packages here.

Radon Gas Removal

What happens if there are high levels of radon gas in your home? If you’ve conducted a test and found that your home has high levels of radon gas, you may feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, when you work with a radon gas mitigation company, they can easily install a radon mitigation system. 

When you call a company like the Radon Gas Guys, they will come to your home conduct a thorough assessment. High levels of radon gas are often associated with other issues in your home. The Radon Gas Guys will not only thoroughly assess your basement (or other area with high radon levels) and fix the problem. Installing a mitigation system without addressing larger issues such as gaps and cracks is not a proper fix. 

The experienced team at the Radon Gas Guys will look for any issues like foundation floor or wall cracks, gaps around sump pumps or poorly sealed windows and address them to ensure excess radon gas does not continue to enter your home. After that, it’s time to install the radon mitigation system. The system is often installed in the basement. However, it could be installed on a different level depending on your home’s unique layout.

The radon gas mitigation system is actually a fairly simple system and process. The system is installed within a day and does not cause a significant disturbance to the rest of your home. The mitigation system consists primarily of a pipe and fan. This system is usually installed into the foundation of your home and removes radon gas by sucking it out from your indoor space and exhausting it outdoors.

Some homeowners think that radon gas is an “old home” problem–but that’s not true. The age of your home does not correlate with high or low levels of radon. However, if your home is less than seven years old, your Tarion Warranty will cover the installation of a radon mitigation system. This is good news! And, it means that if you are living in a new home, it’s a good idea to conduct a test as soon as possible to ensure the system is covered under warranty.

Get Accurate Testing and Radon Mitigation From Radon Gas Guys

As you now know, there are many ways how radon gas enters the home. Because all homes in Ontario have some level of radon gas in them, it’s important to conduct a test to see what’s going on in your house. We also understand that learning about radon gas can feel overwhelming! At Radon Gas Guys, we want to help you feel comfortable from the start. We are committed to the health and safety of homeowners in Southern Ontario. We want to help you and your family stay safe in your home with effective radon removal services. 

If you are worried about high levels of radon gas in your home and are ready for radon gas removal, give us a call. We would be happy to discuss your options and get a plan in place to reduce the high levels that could make you and your family sick.

Rick was great to deal with. The quote was quick and the job was done quick. My number averaged about 600 and I’m now down into the 20s which is perfect. He also informed me of some other issues within my house to fix.

Goldcap100, Google Reviews

9 Ways To Improve Air Quality In Your Home

Most people spend a lot of their time at home, especially with so many people now working fully or part-time from home instead of in an office. While you might not think much about it, your indoor air quality can have a big impact on your life! 

Poor Indoor air quality can impact your quality of life, causing health symptoms like eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Regular exposure to certain common indoor air pollutants can cause more serious side effects. Long-term exposure to high levels of radon gas, for example, can significantly increase your risk of developing lung cancer.

Continue reading below to discover 9 ways to improve air quality in your home so that you can keep your whole family safer and healthier. If you’re concerned about radon gas in your home, consider purchasing a test kit or call the experts at Radon Gas Guys.

1. Check your home’s radon levels

When trying to improve your home’s indoor air quality, one of the very first things you should do is check your home’s radon gas levels. Radon gas is everywhere. It is created when uranium, a heavy metal found in the earth, decays. As uranium decays, it releases the radioactive gas called radon. While there is no guaranteed “safe” level of radon exposure, high levels are known to cause significant damage over time.

A map depicting the potential radon hazard in Southern Ontario
*Note – edited map to emphasize Southern Ontario

Exposure to high levels of radon gas poses a health risk. Did you know that radon gas exposure is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smoking individuals? When you breathe radon gas into your lungs, the gas decays into radioactive particles inside your body. As the particles release this energy in your lungs, that energy damages lung tissue. This consistent damage to your lung tissue over time can significantly increase your risk of lung cancer.

Fortunately, testing for radon gas is very easy! You can simply purchase a test kit online or call a radon gas remediation company to install the kit for you. This small device will be installed on the lowest level of your home that you use for more than a few hours per day (since radon levels are higher as you get lower to the ground). It will collect radon readings for a long period of time, usually around 3 months. Then, it will tell you your average radon levels. 

Health Canada considers the radon limit to be 200 Bq/M3 (Becquerels) indoors. 

If it’s found that your home has high levels of radon gas, you can work with a radon gas remediation company to help mitigate this risk. They can add a radon gas mitigation system to your home, seal up any cracks where radon gas may be entering your home, and help you find any other sources of the problem. Learn more about radon gas and how you can keep your family safe from high levels here.

2. Clean up spills or leaks immediately

Indoor mould growth can cause your indoor air quality to deteriorate quickly. Mould can also grow very quickly! Did you know that mould can begin to grow within 24-48 hours under the right conditions? Leaks or spills cause excess moisture to be where it shouldn’t, and in warm indoor environment this is the perfect environment for mould to grow–fast!  

Exposure to indoor mould can make you feel sick. It can cause respiratory symptoms, increase asthma symptoms, cause dizziness and headaches and cause other flu-like symptoms. One of the easiest ways to avoid these issues is to clean up any moisture you find right away. Even if you think “Oh, it’s just a small spill,” that’s often all it takes for mould to start growing. And mould growth can be sneaky. It can grow behind walls and under carpets and flooring, where you might not notice it until it becomes a big problem. It’s best to clean up any spilled liquids right away to avoid any mould problems, big or small. 

3. Use your fan/range hood while cooking

Cooking is an everyday, average thing that many homeowners do more than once per day. We don’t often consider cooking when we think about indoor air quality, but cooking food, especially frying on the stove can cause a lot of particles and moisture to be released into the air. 

When cooking, use the back burner and turn on your fan

Gas stoves can also release certain indoor air pollutants, such as particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide. You can reduce the tiny particles, gasses, and moisture released while cooking very effectively if you simply turn on your range hood or fans while cooking.

According to Health Canada, cooking on the back burner and using your range hood on a high setting can reduce humidity, particles, and gasses by up to 80% when compared to a fan on a low setting.

To ensure your fan is as effective as it can be, remember to regularly change your filters and ensure that your fan is properly venting outdoors.

4. Get your ducts cleaned

You have probably heard about duct cleaning scams and maybe it has made you wonder if duct cleaning itself is a scam! Duct cleaning is not a scam–in fact, it’s a great way to improve your indoor air quality while also helping to ensure your furnace and air conditioner work efficiently throughout the year. 

When you work with a reputable company, duct cleaning ensures that your ductwork (the vents that run through your home) are cleaned and cleared. This helps eliminate: 

  • Dust build-up 
  • Pet hair and dander 
  • Cobwebs and insects
  • Moisture and mould growth 
  • Other debris that has got stuck inside

When your ductwork works properly, it means that the airflow in your home is significantly improved. This is a great way to improve indoor air quality. It also removes common allergens from building up, so you and your family can breathe easier.

5. Don’t run your car or other gas-powered machines in your garage

If you have an attached garage, the gasses generated from vehicles like cars or trucks or small gas-powered machines like lawnmowers or snowblowers can easily enter your home. These gasses can be extremely dangerous (such as carbon monoxide), so it’s important to avoid allowing them to enter your home. 

The easiest and best way to do this is to simply never run these machines inside your garage. Of course, you need to start your car to get it out of the garage! However, never idle your car inside your garage to warm it up or get it ready to drive. As soon as you start your car, leave the garage and if you must idle it, do it in the driveway with the garage door closed. 

If you have an attached garage, be aware of the gasses that can enter your home

The same goes for your other small machines like snowblowers or lawnmowers. Avoid turning them on in your garage, and don’t leave them idling inside. If you have a barbeque that you store in your garage, never cook inside your garage. 

If you have a door to your garage from inside your home, make sure that your door is properly sealed to help prevent the gasses produced from your car or other equipment from entering your home. You should also make sure that the door stays closed as much as possible.

6. Purchase an air purifier

At-home air purifiers are a great way to help reduce indoor air pollutants and allergens that can bother sensitive family members. While they won’t completely remove pollutants, they are still a good tool for improving indoor air quality. An air purifier with a HEPA filter is best.

Air purifiers are especially helpful if you have seasonal allergies, as most on the market are great for removing pollen as well as other allergens like dust and mould spores. Air purifiers can also keep your family healthier by capturing bacteria, viruses and even smoke particles caused by wildfires. 

If you’re considering an air purifier for your home, check out this guide from the New York Times to help you pick one that is best for you and your family.

7. Regularly vacuum your home

Regularly vacuuming your home can ensure that excess dust, pet hair, dirt, and allergens (such as pollen) brought in on clothes or shoes are quickly eliminated. Health Canada recommends using a vacuum that vents outside (like a central vacuum system). 

Vacuum your carpets and rugs at least once a week

Central vacs help make sure that everything you collect is quickly and efficiently taken right out of your house, leaving little opportunity for anything captured to re-enter your home. If you prefer a traditional vacuum cleaner, find one with a HEPA filter and make sure you use and replace the filters as recommended. 

Your carpeting and floors shouldn’t be the only thing you vacuum. It’s also recommended that you regularly vacuum upholstered furniture and your mattress to prevent dust mites.

9. Air out your house

When possible, open up your windows and let that fresh air in! Here in Ontario, we can have months and months of cold, dreary weather. But even during the winter, it’s a great idea to open up your windows every few weeks to help improve airflow.

Open your windows to improve airflow in your home

When airing out your home, try to avoid opening up your windows on particularly humid days–you don’t want to increase your home’s moisture levels, as this can promote mould growth. 

If you’re wondering about your home’s moisture levels, you can purchase a hygrometer. This small device will let you know how humid your home is so you can take steps to reduce moisture and humidity if it’s reading too high. 

10. Change your furnace filters

Your furnace filter is there for a reason–it helps trap dust and debris and keeps your furnace and air conditioner working well. However, it’s important to change your filters as recommended. Many furnace filters should be changed every three months, but for others, it is recommended every 6 months or even every month! If you aren’t sure what your furnace requires, consider chatting with an HVAC technician to help you out. 

Furnace filters are relatively inexpensive (usually around $50.00) and can be purchased from nearly all hardware stores. It only takes a few minutes to change your filter, but it can make a big difference when it comes to your home’s indoor air quality.

Concerned About Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality? Rely On The Radon Gas Guys For Radon Gas Removal

You and your family spend a lot of time in your home, it’s important to make sure that the air you breathe every day is safe and clean. The Radon Gas Guys are committed to the health and safety of homeowners in Southern Ontario. If you have radon gas in your home, we want to help you and your family stay safe in your home with effective radon removal services. 

When you choose to work with us, we have a 100% guarantee that our radon remediation systems will work. If the radon mitigation system does not reduce the levels below the Canadian standard, we will correct it at no cost or refund your money. We always stand behind our work. That is our guarantee to you! 

If you are worried about high levels of radon gas in your home and are ready for radon gas removal, give us a call. We would be happy to discuss your options and get a plan in place to reduce the high levels that could make you and your family sick.

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