Can A House Without A Basement Have Radon?

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Radon is a natural gas common in basements. With the presence of this gas, humans can be at risk of respiratory ailments. When constructing your home, you might want to exclude the basement in your plans. Read what experts found out if a house without a basement has radon.

Yes, even if you don't have a basement, your home is still prone to radon exposure. For elevated houses, radon levels are lower compared to houses with a basement. Radon can enter the main floor levels through the foundation. The radon levels in a house also depend on the surface where you build your house.

It will also help that you test your house for radon levels. Although there are radon-resisting methods available, you cannot fully remove radon. You can control the presence of radon by applying mitigating methods and systems. Read further to learn how you can manage radon inside your home.

A photo of a basement with a magnifying glass showing radon, Can A House Without A Basement Have Radon?

Can Radon Only Be Found In Basements?

Radon is a natural, colorless, odorless, and radioactive gas. Elements like uranium, radium, and thorium break down in rocks and emit radon. When outside, there are no issues because radon can mix with fresh air. But, if the concentration of radon is indoors, that is when it becomes a health hazard.

Whether you have a basement or not, radon is present in all homes. Radon will enter the house no matter the age or insulation systems in place. The emission of radon comes from the decomposition and erosion of natural stones. Check if your foundation is on surfaces with large granite or limestone.

If there is a basement in your home, radon can easily get inside. The pressure from the ground transfers the load to the home's structure. There could be cracks on the foundations, well water, or exposed soil where radon can pass.

Basements will have higher levels of radon. If your house is well-ventilated and on a higher elevation, radon levels are lower.

If your family experiences symptoms of radon exposure, such as frequent respiratory infections, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, fatigue, and weight loss, seek help from a physician. It will also help to conduct radon testing and add suitable radon mitigation systems for your home.

What Houses Are Most Likely To Have Radon?

An illustration showing how radon gets inside to the house

All types of houses are susceptible to radon. Radon is present in your homes due to the kind of soil and rock where you built your house. Rocks and soil with uranium release radon that accumulates under the foundations. If you have weak foundations and below-grade rooms, your home is much more at risk of radon.

Listed here are the types of houses that are prone to radon:

  • Homes with basements
  • Houses on slab-on-grade foundations
  • With vented and sealed crawlspaces
  • Concrete poured at ground level
  • Has shallow unfinished space under the ground floor of the house

If your homes do not have the mentioned structures, the radon levels might be low but not totally zero. Some states will have higher levels due to the presence of natural stones like granite or limestone. You can refer to EPA's state maps of radon zones that can guide you on what type of house to construct.

Is It OK To Live In A House With Radon?

Radon ranks as the second lung cancer culprit. The CDC reveals that each year in the United States, around 20,000 lung cancer death cases are due to exposure to radon. Acquiring the malignant disease even increases if you smoke or burn wood and coal inside a house with high radon.

While you can still live in a house with radon, the EPA suggests that homeowners with radon levels of at least 4 picocuries per liter (pCI/L) should have radon-reduction measures. You can assess the radon levels in your home with a radon test kit. After following the instructions in the package, send the kit to accredited labs.

There are ways you can keep your radon levels low. Learn some methods to minimize radon below.

How Do You Mitigate Radon In A Basement?

Basements can have the highest concentration of radon in your house. Thus, it is best to reduce radon in this area before the other floor levels. You can minimize the dangers of radon in your basement by following some tips below:

  • Soil suction - This method involves drawing the radon from the ground below. The radon passes through vents and dilutes with the air outside.
  • Sump-hole suction - If the basement has a sump pump, you could use this to connect the radon suction pipe.
  • Block-wall suction - For hollow-block foundations, you remove radon by depressurizing the wall. You can also combine this method with sub-slab suction.
  • Sealing - Target the cracks and openings on the foundations where radon can pass through.
  • House pressurization - You will use fans to bring air inside the basement or a room in the house.
  • Natural ventilation - You can open windows and doors or use the vents in your basements in this method.

You can combine the methods to keep radon levels at a minimum. If you have the budget, you can also get services from state-certified radon mitigation contractors to help fix the radon issues at home.

Does Opening Windows Reduce Radon?

Illustration showing how radon gets inside a house

With open windows, you can help improve the air circulation inside the basement. By doing so, it moves the radon out of the house. Opening the windows also reduces negative air pressure by diluting with clean outdoor air. If you follow this method, it won't cost you anything to remove radon.

Although this method minimizes radon, it is only a temporary solution. Once you close the windows, radon levels can increase within 12 hours. You could also face the dilemma of opening the windows during winter. Also, if you always leave the windows open, it poses a security threat.

You can choose opening windows and other long-term remedies to create effective measures against radon. Ask advice from a professional for methods you can do aside from opening the windows.

Read from our previous post about how you can air out your basement.

Does Sealing A Basement Floor Reduce Radon?

It is crucial to seal all possible radon pathways on the basement floor. Some people use epoxy paints and concrete sealers to stop radon entry in the basement. According to the US Radon Management, there are specific sealers to use for different radon routes.

Be careful when using the sealants, as these will emit toxic fumes while curing. After sealing, it is best to install active soil depressurization or heat recovery ventilator systems. Ask professional advice for suitable sealants for the basement floor.

In Closing

Even if radon is common in basements, it does not mean that other floor levels of your homes are free from radon. The surface where you built your house might have deposits of radon. If your foundations have cracks, radon can get inside and go up to the house.

It is still fine to stay in a house with radon, but you should also have radon mitigation systems to prevent health issues like lung cancer. You can create good air ventilation by opening the windows and warding off radon by sealing possible routes.

You should address radon problems inside your home to keep your family safe and healthy.

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