Radon can enter your home via a number of entry points or pathways:
- Cracks in concrete slabs.
- Spaces behind brick veneer walls that rest on uncapped hollow-block foundations.
- Pores and cracks in concrete blocks.
- Floor-wall joints.
- Exposed soil, as in a sump or crawl space.
- Weeping (drain) tile, if drained to an open sump.
- Mortar joints.
- Loose fitting pipe penetrations.
- Open tops of block walls.
- Building materials: brick, concrete, rock.
- Well water.
In general, whenever air enters a home from the underlying soil, some radon will likely come with it. Any home can have a radon problem, no matter what type of foundation it has.
If you have a basement: A basement provides a large surface area in contact with soil material. Radon can enter through cracks in the concrete, or through floor-to-wall joints or control joints. But radon can enter a home regardless of whether or not there is a basement.
Slab-On-Grade: Slabs built on grade can have many openings that allow radon to enter, just as in a basement.
Crawl Space: Homes with crawl spaces can also have elevated radon levels. The vacuum effect can draw radon gas from a crawl space into the home.
Manufactured Homes: Unless these buildings are placed on supports without skirting around them, interior air pressure vacuums can cause radon to enter manufactured homes, as well.
Radon and Your Home’s Air Pressure
Other factors also contribute to air pressure changes in a home, including:
- Stack Effect: As warm air rises to the upper portions of a home, it is displaced by cooler, denser outside air. Some of that displaced air comes from the soil.
- Down Wind Draft Effect: Strong winds can create a vacuum as they flow over the top and around the home.
- Vacuum Effect: Combustion appliances like furnaces, hot water heaters and fireplaces, as well as exhaust fans and vents, can remove a considerable amount of air from a home. When air is exhausted, outside air enters the home to replace it. Some of this replacement air comes from the underlying soil.
What Happens After Radon Enters a Home?
Radon levels are often highest at the entry point – typically in the lower part of a building. As radon gas moves upward, diffusion, natural air movements and mechanical equipment (such as a forced-air ventilation system) distribute the radon through the home. Radon gas becomes more diluted in the upper levels of the home because there is more fresh air for it to mix with.
Greater dilution and less house vacuum effect occur when the house is more open to the outdoors, as during the non-heating season. This generally results in lower indoor radon levels in the summer compared to the winter.
Test My Home!
Professional radon testing is the first step to making your home a safe place to breathe.