Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is radon?
Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless radioactive gas found in homes throughout the United States. Radon is a naturally occurring gas, which emanates from soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon gas comes from the naturally occurring uranium in the soil. In the uranium (U-238) decay series, radon (Rn-222), which emanates from the decay of radium (Ra-226) is the only gaseous element. Radon gas takes the path of least resistance up through the ground and if the radon source is near a home’s foundation, it will enter the house due to negative air pressure in the home caused by normal house ventilation. The air pressure is lower above a foundation floor than it is beneath it due to mechanical systems such as furnaces, water heaters, gas clothes dryers, whole house attic fans, bathroom vent fans or due to something as simple as opening and closing of doors and windows. Individually, or combining a few of these elements, will create a vacuum effect, which will literally suck the radon gas into your home. It enters homes through floor cracks, cold-joints, control cuts, sump pits and any other openings in a foundation or crawlspace. In closed house conditions, the radon gas can maintain elevated levels in your home.
What does radon do?
Radon is classified as a Class A (Group1) carcinogen, which is a substance that can cause changes in cells that can lead to cancer in humans. Inhalation is the exposure pathway. Once in the lungs, residual radon decays rapidly into other decay products that are responsible for lung cell damage, which may lead to the development of lung cancer. It has been estimated that exposure to these decay products or progeny, causes between 15,000 and 22,000 lung cancer deaths per year. No cancers other than lung cancer have been attributed to radon.
How do you test for radon?
Radon testing is performed over 2 or more days using a radon test kit or an electronic continuous radon monitor. In Illinois, radon measurement (testing) companies are licensed and regulated through the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (I.E.M.A.) Department of Nuclear Safety’s Radon Program (800-325-1245). If testing is performed in conjunction with a real estate transaction in Illinois, you must use an I.E.M.A. licensed testing company. If not, you can purchase test kits from local hardware stores, home-centers, county health departments (most of the time they're free) or via the internet for as little as $5.00. There are also some very accurate Bluetooth compatible radon monitors on Amazon.com for under $200.00.
What do my results mean?
The results of your test will be given in pico Curies per Liter (of air), or pCi/L. If a result is above 4.0 pCi/L, it is suggested that the radon level be mitigated (reduced) to a level below 4.0 pCi/L to minimize health risks. The average outdoor level in the United States is 0.4 pCi/L. In an ideal situation after mitigating, your home could be close to that level. You would then be no worse off being in your home than outside. While achieving average outdoor levels is not always possible, all homes can be mitigated to a level below the action level of 4.0 pCi/L.
What are the steps involved in mitigating ny home?
Most mitigation methods utilize a sub-slab depressurization (SSD) system in order to remove or re-route the radon gas. You can’t eliminate the source of radon gas but you can re-route the gas and exhaust it past the highest gutter line or roof eave of your home, where the gas will dissipate and do no harm.
How do I confirm my system works?
24 hours after the activation of your mitigation system, a 48 hour post-mitigation test can be performed. Depending on how you tested, you will know how effective your system is in a very short time. If the results are not below 4.0 pCi/L (or below a pre-mitigation level already below 4.0 pCi/L), you can demand additional mitigation. Any reputable licensed mitigation company will guarantee in writing a reduction below 4.0 pCi/L (or below a pre-mitigation level already below 4.0 pCi/L) and will return to perform additional work if necessary to achieve the required level at no added expense to you or your buyer.
Why do most companies use PVC pipe for an exterior system exhaust in lieu of aluminum downspout?
Some companies claim that PVC pipe is a better option than aluminum downspout for a system's exterior exhaust. They make claims that: PVC pipe exhaust is quieter with tighter joint connections; PVC pipe can be custom painted to match house colors; PVC pipe is better at withstanding exhaust condensation freezing in extreme winter conditions due to the thicker pipe wall thickness; etc. These claims are nothing more than excuses for using cheaper PVC pipe. A properly designed & installed mitigation system addresses most of the above claims including what is commonly referred to as an ice dam (freezing of exhaust condensation). In fact, we are so confident in our systems that we stand behind them with a full lifetime warranty.
Why do the majority of radon mitigation companies utilize three-inch instead of four-inch pvc pipe for the main or single suction point?
More Detailed Radon Information FAQ
When did radon exposure in residences first become a concern to the general public?
In 1984, Stanley Watras, whose body was contaminated with radon, repeatedly set off radiation monitoring alarms on his way into the Limerick nuclear plant construction site, where he worked for Bechtel Corp.
How could this happen?
The nuclear plant was under construction and hadn’t begun producing electricity, which is the only way a measurement of radiation from the plant itself would’ve been possible.
How was the radiation source discovered?
When technicians measured the radiation levels in the Berks County, Pa. home of Stanley and Diane Watras in 1984 around Christmas, they did not believe the test results which measured 2700 pci/l, a now known risk to the Watras family’s health equivilant to each of them smoking 280 packs of cigarettes per day
Did the radon levels surprise the scientists?
Yes. Not only were the readings higher than they had ever seen, but they also were well beyond what scientists had thought was possible in a residence. "It surprised the heck out of everybody because nobody had ever seen anything that high," said Bill Belanger, a radiation specialist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Was the testing performed accurate?
Yes, the numbers turned out to be accurate. The Watras’ split-level home on Indian Lane in Colebrookdale Township had the highest levels of naturally occurring radiation ever recorded in a home in the United States.
What is the health risk?
The levels of a potentially dangerous radioactive gas called radon, which is emitted by trace amounts of uranium beneath the Earth's surface, were so high that, according to statistics in a 1984 report prepared for Congress, if the Watras’ and their two young sons had lived in the house for just a few more years, they probably would have developed lung cancer.
What action occurred?
Stanley Watras, 34, quickly moved his family out of the house, where they had lived for a year. Meanwhile, state officials set about testing hundreds of other homes in the area to determine whether they were dangerously radioactive. The radon levels in the Watras’ home were about 675 times the maximum level permitted in a uranium mine.)
Were there other high radon areas nearby?
Yes. It was later discovered that many of the Berks County, PA. homes were more contaminated than several hundred houses surrounding an old uranium mill in Canonsburg, Washington County, PA.. The Berks County radon levels were also higher than those at houses in Grand Junction, CO., that were built on radioactive waste from uranium milling.
Where does radon gas originate from?
Uranium, the source of radon in the Watras home and millions of others throughout the United States,is known to be concentrated in the soil. Uranium is more common in the earth than silver and gold.
Where is uranium found?
Traces of the radioactive mineral can be found in all rock, especially granite. By its nature, uranium is in a constant state of decay, breaking down into a variety of radioactive substances, including radon, a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas.
What’s the harm?
Radon, which can seep into a home through cracks or holes in its foundation, is not necessarily hazardous to humans, but radon decays into highly dangerous radioactive particles, which can lodge in the lungs when inhaled.
Are there any studies on exposure to radon?
Yes. Studies of miners show that these particles, known as radon daughters or progeny, can cause lung cancer. The debilitating disease, usually fatal, can take anywhere from five to 20 years to develop and does not usually appear until after the age of 40.
What are some examples of radon entry factors into a home?
A variety of factors - including the amount of uranium in the soil beneath the house, the permeability of the soil, the design of the house and how well the structure is insulated - can affect how much radon is seeping in. One house can be dangerously radioactive, while the house next door can be perfectly safe.
Do radon levels vary?
Yes. In fact, some of the houses in the Watras' neighborhood had normal radon levels. Radon levels can also vary greatly by the season and even by the time of day, because radon concentration can be significantly reduced by air circulation such as opening a window or a door and letting air circulate, although such a solution is not permanent.
Have there been studies completed on the sources of radon contamination in the U.S.?
Yes. The U.S. Department of Energy discovered after testing a Bloomsburg, Pa. radium-dial plant, the employees and many of the employees' spouses, who had not worked at the plant, were also contaminated with radon. It was later confirmed that the source of the radon exposure was the workers' homes.
How does radon get into a house?
Radon gas takes the path of least resistance up through the ground. When a house foundation’s openings combined with lower air pressures above basement, slab or crawlspace floors are adjacent to a radium source, radon enters the home structure through a vacuum effect.
Is radon a recognized health concern?
Yes. Many health and environmental organizations including the American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, American Cancer Institute and the American Medical Association recognize the link between radon exposure and lung cancer occurrences.
Are there any radon disclosure laws?
Yes. As of January 01, 2008, sellers of residential properties in Illinois are required to provide two sets of the following documents to buyers of their home.
“Testing Guidelines for Real Estate Transactions” & “Illinois Disclosure of Information on Radon Hazards”
Is testing mandatory?
Why should radon concern you?
I have elevated radon levels, now what?
What other entry points are a concern?
What can be done if radon levels are elevated?
All of the above are included in radon mitigation installations. The state does not recommend sealing alone as the preferred method for treating radon gas entry. New cracks may form over time and caulks may not maintain their original sealing qualities.
What is radon mitigation?
Radon mitigation or reduction is an installation process of venting the radon gas to the outside before it can enter your home. There are a few mitigation techniques that have been proven to be very effective at reducing radon levels well below the action level established by the EPA.
How effective is radon mitigation?
What if the sub-slab material isn’t permeable?
What is a sub-slab depressurization system?
What are some characteristics of a sub-slab depressurization system?
What if you have a crawlspace instead of a basement?
What are some Illinois regulations for installing radon mitigation systems?
Are there radon fan location regulations?
Yes. The I.E.M.A. Radon Program requirement determines whether the fan is installed in an attic space or on the outside of the house, although the layout of the home’s foundation and lower-level finish will sometimes necessitate a variance to the exhaust termination requirement.
So where can a radon fan be installed?
What should it look like if the fan is installed in an attic space?
What should it look like if the the fan is mounted on the exterior of the house?
What is the common practice regarding radon when realtors are involved?
The most common practice by real estate professionals has been to allow the seller to select the cheapest radon system, which is never the best system available. The seller has already been inundated by the buyer to fix other issues with the house and the realtor's advice to secure the cheapest system isn't the best service they can provide for them. If the same practice continues, “what goes around comes around” will come into play. The ‘cheap’ system, which isn’t functionally efficient or aesthetically pleasing, can be a detriment to the present and future sale of the home.
What’s the best solution?
The best solution is to get the buyer involved in the decision as to who installs the system. The seller’s goal is still to pay the absolute minimum for a system and along with the ‘cheap’ proposal he receives, he or she can forward the more expensive ones to the buyers as well. The buyer should request proposals as well and may prefer one over the other and be willing to pay the difference between the seller submitted ‘cheap’ one and one of their choosing.
What harm has been done?
None. By allowing the buyer to make the decision as to which mitigation company installs the system, it absolutely guarantees total satisfaction when the sale of the home is complete. The buyer will enjoy the functional efficiency of an aesthetically pleasing system installed utilizing high quality materials and workmanship when they choose Timmit Radon Systems.
Will the seller be happy?
Of course they will! They will pay the absolute minimum possible for a radon system that the buyer selected and there will be no issues with one of the very last items necessary to complete for the sale of their house.
Will the real estate professionals be happy?
They will be since the service they provided to both sides of the transaction will guarantee that the radon mitigation system will not be a detriment to the present or future sale of the house.
How do we raise the bar?
By changing the way the game is played when dealing with the radon issue, the real estate professional can not only provide the best service possible to their clients but they can also guarantee that the radon system’s appearance in relation to aesthetics, in quality regarding materials and workmanship and system efficiency are raised to a level that eliminates any concerns in real estate transactions regarding radon.
Why & when did the phrase “ALL RADON MITIGATION SYSTEMS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL” originate?
Back in 2007, Tim wanted to communicate a message to the radon industry customer base that would pique their interest in what differentiated Timmit Radon Systems from any other radon mitigation company, so he created the tag line and utilized it in his marketing strategy for the past 16 years. It is solely relevant and unique to Timmit Radon Systems and no other radon company in the industry.
Why is it only relevant and unique to Timmit Radon Systems?
Since 1996, Timmit Radon Systems has installed every mitigation system as if it were in our own home. We install the most functionally efficient and aesthetically pleasing systems, utilizing the highest quality in materials and craftsmanship in the radon industry, which is why a Timmit Radon System installation will never be a detriment to the present or future sale of a home.
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