How to Reduce Radon Gas in Basement? [The ULTIMATE Guide]
Did you know that besides smoking, radon gas is also a leading cause of lung cancer?
If the term radon gas is insignificant to you, then it’s probably time to educate yourself on the dangers of overexposure to radon gas.
After all, the US Environmental Protection Agency places radon gas as the reason behind 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the US!
To protect your lungs against this threat, then it’s best to read on and find out how to reduce radon gas from your home, especially from places, such as the basement, where it may enter.
What is radon?
Radon gas is a radioactive material that comes from the rock and soil beneath our feet.
We’re always exposed to radon gas since it comes from the ground we walk on, but since it dissipates in the air, it’s usually not a problem. However, radon gas tends to accumulate inside enclosed areas, which is when overexposure occurs.
As such, all houses are subject to the accumulation of radon gas. That’s right; even your house may already have radon gas accumulating inside it.
Moreover, those who live in homes with elevated radon gas levels are at higher risk of developing lung cancer from it.
You’re also in higher risk if you spend a lot of time at home, especially in your basement or the ground floor, since you have increased exposure.
And of course, if you’re a smoker, radon gas will only worsen your chances of getting lung cancer.
How does radon gas enter my house?
Because your house’s basement is closest to the ground, so you’re going to find the highest levels of radon gas inside it, and the opposing amounts of pressure inside and outside your basement creates a “stack effect”.
This is when air is drawn more forcefully into spaces between high and low pressure areas, causing more radon gas to be suctioned into your home.
This is why it’s more recommended to use a slab-on-grade as foundation for your house, rather than building a basement.
Basements are free space that’s practically begging for radon gas to come and accumulate inside it, while slab-on-grades can act as a sort of barrier between your house and the ground.
Cracks along your walls and along the floor are also an entry point for radon gas.
The same can be said for pipes, as it’s an open passage from the ground leading into your home.
How can I know if my house has high radon gas levels?
Radon gas typically accumulates in homes that are very well insulated.
It also has a tendency to build up inside homes that are built on soil that has a high content of uranium, thorium, and radium. The breakdown of these metals cause the formation of radon gas.
You can purchase test kits to find out what the levels of radon gas in your home are.
Short-term tests find out your home’s radon gas levels within a timeframe of 2-3 days, while long-term tests have a timeframe of 90 days but are more accurate.
You can purchase either at your local hardware store, but it’s best to buy the latter so that you can really gauge whether or not your house has a serious radon gas problem.
After following the instructions on the package, send it to the proper authorities for analysis, and you’ll receive the results in no time.
Some homes use a radon gas monitoring system to check whether interior radon gas levels are increasing too much.
The system is typically placed inside your basement, and an app connected to your mobile will alert you once the amount of radon gas within your house reaches dangerous levels. Having a monitoring system like this allows for a homeowner’s peace of mind.
So, what do I do if my house has high radon gas levels?
How to Reduce Radon Gas in Basement?
Because overexposure to radon gas can be dangerous, you need to reduce the amount of it within your home.
So what should you do to reduce radon gas levels inside your basement?
1) Seal cracks in basement
Radon gas seeps in from the soil into your home from some cracks in the wall and the floor. Find these cracks and seal them up to avoid further accumulation.
2) Install a sump well cover
Consider installing a sump well cover to close an exposed area in your basement.
If your basement has a window, open it often to allow the gas to exit the basement and to let air circulate.
4) Regulate room temperatures
To counter the stack effect inside your basement, refrain from cooling or heating your house too much to battle against high or low temperatures outdoors.
Having extremely varying temperatures inside and outside your basement will create a stronger stack effect.
5) Layer with plastic sheets
Install a plastic sheet under your basement or over your crawl space. The sheet prevents radon gas from entering your home, but of course, this only works if your house is still under construction.
6) Install a radon barrier
A radon gas membrane barrier is a more effective alternative to plastic sheeting, as it is specifically built to keep radon gas out of your basement.
The barrier needs to be sealed up until the exterior wall of your house to really ensure that radon gas doesn’t enter your basement. Here's one way to get it installed.
7) Use spray foam insulation
Spray foam insulation can be used on the ground and along the walls to block out the radon gas from entering your basement.
8) Install a radon mitigation system
Consider installing a radon gas mitigation system.
The simplest ones consist of a simple pipe running from the ground beneath your house to the exterior of your home, but some even have fans that help draw out the gases.
Radon gas mitigation professionals can help you determine how intricate your mitigation system should be.
9) Use an exhaust fan
An exhaust fan has the same effects as a radon gas mitigation system, and can even help your house’s humidity levels.
Like the mitigation system, the exhaust fan guides the radon gas out of your home.
The increased circulation of air will also help keep a low humidity in your basement, minimizing the risk of mold growth.
10) Layer with concrete slabs
If you’re willing to pay a good amount for your family’s safety, you can pour in an additional concrete slab above your existing ground floor to create a space underneath your home that traps radon gas.
Because the radon gas collects inside an area no one can get to, the gas can’t harm anyone.
Of course, you should always schedule a radon gas removal visit every once in the while to ensure the radon gas levels in that little area don’t go too high and end up seeping into your home anyways.
11) Have a ceiling barrier
A ceiling barrier can also help in keeping radon gas in your basement from getting into the rest of your home.
Like the additional concrete slab we mentioned, this ceiling barrier will trap the radon gas in your basement, for easier removal since it’s not continuously contaminating your upper floors.
12) Sub-slab depressurization
If the radon gas levels in your basement are particularly alarming, hire a radon gas mitigation specialist to do sub-slab depressurization.
This method drills holes into your basement’s floor to check whether the vapor barrier underneath your house has accumulated radon gas inside it, and if it does, then fans and pipes will be used to usher the gas outside your home.
13) Use an Air Purifier
Last but not least, air purifiers are designed to filter radon gas from the surroundings.
When air is sucked in, it is passed through a layer of filters that work to remove all harmful contaminants within the air. Radon is then removed by the activated carbon filter. Simply placing one in your basement will do the trick.
(Click here to find out which is the best one to use. You'll be surprised by the results!)
Conclusion - How to Reduce Radon Gas in your Basement?
There are several ways you can reduce the levels of radon gas inside your basement, and we’ve outlined most of them here.
However, you should take note that while inhaling radon gas will not cause you to drop dead on the spot, it is still a serious problem that should be addressed by experts.
As such, we recommend that you hire a radon gas mitigation professional to help you in reducing radon gas inside your basement, as most the solutions we’ve given aren’t exactly made for doing-it-yourself.
That being said, some of the simplest things you can do, if you think the levels of radon gas in your basement aren’t high enough to warrant hiring a professional, are:
In the end, radon gas isn’t something that you should ignore. Just because it’s present in the air everywhere doesn’t mean that you can shrug it off since “you’re exposed to it all the time anyway”. Exposure to radon gas in fresh, open air is different from exposure inside your home!
It may not be visible, nor audible, nor displeasing to the nose, but it can cause something as deadly as lung cancer.
With the increased amount of time that everyone spends at home nowadays, our exposure to radon air increases.
If you care about your and your family’s safety, take steps to reduce the amount of radon gas within your basement, and get rid of another risk factor in developing lung cancer.