How Do I Reduce Radon Gases
Okay, first off, radon is a dangerous gas that has well known health effects. Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is all around us, outside and inside a home. But homes can trap the radon gas in the basement area and elevate it to unsafe levels. If you are worried about high levels of radon gas accumulating in your basement, please consult a radon mitigation specialist who is familiar with your area.
What is a Safe Amount of Radon Gas?
The US EPA says it best, “Any radon exposure has some risk of causing lung cancer. The lower the radon level in your home, the lower your family’s risk of lung cancer.” The EPA has set the outdoor background level of 0.4 pCi/L as the target for indoor air radon levels. It is estimated that over 2/3 of US homes exceed this level. The EPA has also set the target actionable level as 4 pCi/L. If your home tests to this level, the EPA recommends action be taken to lower the amount.
What About Humidity and Other Soil Gases?
Gasses of all types can enter your basement. Some are manmade, such as VOCs from pesticides and fertilizers used in your lawn. Others are naturally occurring. These can include methane and hydrogen sulfide. Both of which can lower the inside air quality of your home.
Humidity in your basement is a big problem, especially in older homes. Water vapor moves from the soil on the outside through the concrete or concrete block of the basement. It is possible to for the water vapor to move up through the floor also. Once inside, the cool air of the basement can cause it to condense out of the air as a liquid. This liquid water or even the elevated humidity of the cool basement can lead to mold and mildew growth. These of course lower the indoor air quality of the basement and can cause musty odors.
Radon, water vapor and soil gases can enter your basement through a variety of ways. Cracks in the basement floors and walls can be filled and sealed to stop the gases from entering. Pipe openings and other intrusions through the walls should also be sealed.
Concrete does not seal against radon and soil gases on its own. But it can be sealed with a penetrating concrete sealer made of sodium silicate. A sodium silicate concrete sealer works on both concrete and concrete blocks. The sealers soak into the floors and walls and once inside, they react with the free lime content of the concrete. This reaction starts a crystal producing process that densifies the concrete. It fills micro-fissures and gaps in the interior of the concrete. These sealers are below the surface of the concrete so they do not wear away. They should last the lifetime of the concrete. The application process is simple and safe. Once completed, the concrete becomes vapor impermeable. Radon, soil gasses and water vapor transmission will be reduced.
This article is written by Aaron Kuertz who’s with Applied Technologies. Aaron has been in the waterproofing industry since 1998. Applied Technologies is a manufacturer and supplier to professional waterproofing contractors and homeowners in the United States. For more information about concrete sealers, contact Applied Technologies.