Radon testing for your basement is important if you live in the following states:
ANY OF THE 50 STATES!
And any of Canadian Provinces. (Hi neighbors!)
Look, I'll be totally honest. When I decided to finish my own basement I had never even heard of radon gas.
Then one day I'm sitting on my front porch, rocking in my old man rocking chair, drinking a frosty cold Belgian style beer and I look down the street. I notice what I thought at the time was the weirdest looking rain collection system attached to my neighbors house.
Turns out it was a radon fan and discharge pipe.
Someone in my neighborhood had gone through some considerable expense to have the fairly large pipe installed on the side of their house. So I decided to do a little research.
3 Critical Facts About Radon Gas
Sorry if it freaks you out a bit, but you know what - I like living - I think it's kinda cool to wake up each day and LIVE. And I'd like you to live too.
1. Radon Gas is the 2nd leading cause of Lung Cancer
This is not speculation guys. This is straight from the EPA government website. The first cause is smoking. At least you know if you're breathing in smoke. With radon gas you don't even know you're breathing it in. You could be sucking in boat loads of radon gas and never know it. It's odorless and invisible.
2. Radon is a natural gas, released by the earth
Yup, you're breathing in the farts of mother earth. Let that sink in… you are breathing earth farts. And they're deadly! Here's the kicker. Your neighbor might do radon testing and get completely safe results. But your house could get totally different results.
You need to test YOUR house specifically. Test kits are accurate and inexpensive - I recommend this one from Amazon - it's about $15. It's made by First Alert (highly reputable). The lab fee is included in the cost.
3. Radon is invisible, tasteless and odorless.
That's right, this deadly stuff is basically impossible to detect with human senses. It's a lot like carbon monoxide. It's different though in that it won't kill you or anything else right away. It's a slow killer - it can't take years or it can take a decade, just like smoking. Because it's so slow a lot of people ignore it. Then one day you're at the Doctor and he's like "you've got cancer" but by that time it's too late.
OK, are you freaked out? Maybe just a little bit?
I'm like your Dad trying to scare the hell out of you about taking candy from strangers. I love you, but I need to you to pee your pants a little when you see that creepy white van roll by while you're outside playing basketball.
Radon Testing - 2 Easy Steps
Here's what you need to do to make sure you house is safe from radon gas. Ideally you want to do this before you start finishing your basement, but after is okay too. If there is a problem, you can still fix it, even if your basement is already finished.
Buy and use 2 home radon test kits. Place both test kits in your basement. Let the first sit there for about 4 days then you mail it to a lab in Texas and they send you back the results.
Use the second one as the long term test. It needs to sit for about 90 days. Then send it off to the lab.
(be sure to get a kit like this where the lab testing costs are included in the price of the kit)
If your test results are in the safe zone you're pretty much good to go. If they are in the "unsafe" zone, or close too it, you should hire a professional Radon firm to come out and do a second test and assessment. If it's still high when they test then you need to install a system to remove it.
How Do I Remove Radon Gas?
So what if your radon gas test comes back positive? Now what? Don't worry, you can install a fairly full proof system to ensure the air you're breathing is safe.
Here are the 3 main points to removing radon gas
1. Seal up any cracks in your basement walls and floor.
2. Install an exhaust pipe that runs from your basement to the top of your house. (this is the hard part)
3. Install an exhaust fan that pulls air from below your basement floor and out the exhaust pipe.
Should I Install My Own Radon Gas Removal System?
Hire a professional firm -
For me personally, I'd probably leave this one to the pros. The pricing I've seen runs between $800 and $1500 depending on your location and the size and condition of your basement.
Install your own radon gas mitigation system -
Obviously, I'm a DIY type of guy. I love the challenge, learning new things and saving lots of money. BUT...
Running that exhaust pipe up through my house or even on the outside would be the part I would not want to tackle. For one thing, I don't have tall enough ladders. I don't want to cut holes in main floors of my house if I don't know what I'm doing.
Some of you may be up for it. If you are I say go for it. Here's a great video from this old house that shows a few of the steps… but conveniently leaves out the part about running the exhaust pipe through your house.
Here's a decent web site that's walks you through what you have to do to install the vent pipe.
Well that about covers it. Start with the Radon testing kit and only worry about the rest if your test results come back high.
Don't just shrug it off. Decide today that you're going to be the type of person that takes the extra step to get things done right.
Be patient, so you can be alive to enjoy your finished basement when you're 90.
Cheers - Jason