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Protecting Your Home Against Radon

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Protecting Your Home Against Radon

By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

Jan 19, 2021

Thousands of families across the UK live in highly radioactive areas and worse, their homes contain dangerous levels of radiation without residents even knowing it.

Large parts of the UK are subject to higher-than-normal levels of Radon gas which is invisible to the naked eye being both odourless and colourless.  It can only be measured using a specialised detector which monitors the amount of Radon which is present and alerts the residents if it is above safe levels.

In most of the country, there is little to no risk.  While Radon is naturally occurring and found almost everywhere, it is normally at such low levels that we do not need to worry about it, however in areas which are rich in granite, there are higher amounts of Uranium below ground which decays into Radon gas and releases it through the soil.

This gas, which is radioactive, can build up and cause health problems including raising the risk of a person developing lung cancer.

How Radon Builds Up

Radon is the most common source of radiation that we encounter.  It can create radioactive that, when inhaled, get trapped in our airways and decay with Alpha radiation which is absorbed into lung tissue and contribute to our risk of developing lung cancer.

The Southwest of England is the area most heavily affected by the presence of Radon creating rocks below ground, but there are smaller deposits almost everywhere.  In fact, around 500,000 homes are estimated to be at higher risk of contamination.  When Radon gets into a house it can build up over time in confined spaces until it reaches dangerous levels.

Measuring Radon in Your Home

If you are at risk of Radon, the first step is to arrange for your property to be tested.  You can buy a home measurement pack for around £50 and you need to set it up in your home undisturbed for around 3 months before sending it away for analysis.  More accurate methods of measuring Radon are available.

If the levels are found to be high – the government recommended safe limit is below 200Bq/M3 – you will need to take action to reduce levels – either through improving the ventilation in your property or installing a radon sump below your house.

There are ways to reduce the amount of radon entering your home – some people recommend sealing up gaps in the floor and around cellar hatches, but these are not always effective.  It can be difficult to ensure that you have addressed all the locations where radon can enter and making your home airtight can worsen the problem as it reduces the air flow through the property meaning that radon can build up to higher concentrations.

Effectively Reducing Radon Levels

To reduce radon levels and to keep them within safe limits, there are two main options:

  • A Radon Sump
  • Whole House Ventilation Systems

A radon sump can be either passive or fan assisted.  A pipe runs from roof level to just below the floor inside an external wall.  The heavier than air gas moves through the pipe and is expelled from safely into the atmosphere.  Retrofitting a radon sump can be expensive and difficult as it requires some modification to the structure of the building.

Whole House Ventilation systems can be more cost effective.  The best solution is usually a Positive Input Ventilation system (PIV) which works by drawing fresh air into the property from outside, filtering it to remove impurities and then expelling it.  PIV systems create an effective airflow throughout the house which prevents Radon from building up to dangerous levels while also reducing the effects of condensation such as damp and mould which can cause health problems of their own.

Getting Expert Advice

One of our qualified local specialists can help conduct a Radon Survey of your home to and read the results determine the level of risk and advise you on the most effective course of action to take.  Once you have information about the amount of Radon that is building up in your property, you can decide whether improved ventilation or a radon sump is most appropriate in helping to reduce your risk.  Contact us to find out more.

Need help with condensation, mould or damp problems?

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During the free survey we will

  • check Assess any condensation, damp or mould problems in your property
  • check Take readings of the relative humidity levels
  • check Identify any underlying problems and make recommendations for a permanent solution

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