This has been quite the unusual winter throughout much of the United States. Average temperatures throughout the Midwest and East Coast have hovered significantly above average. In the Chicagoland area, for example, Christmas Day reached a high of 57 degrees. While you will be pressed to find anyone complaining about this unusual weather, we do have a couple of months of winter ahead still, leaving ample time for temperatures to drop.
Whether the temperatures are cold or mild, one concern that we all should be mindful of is the air quality inside our homes. While our primary concern at Emecole Metro revolves around keeping water and moisture out of basements and crawl spaces, many of our products also are involved in the improvement of air quality by minimizing the entry of moisture and soil gases, including radon. This all ties together because at least 50 percent of air quality circulating throughout the home originates from the basement or crawl space. Creating a dry and healthy environment below-grade is essential to maintaining healthy air quality throughout the rest of the home.
The threat of radon is serious enough that the Environmental Protection Agency has declared January as Radon Action Month.
By definition, radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that produces naturally in the soil. It becomes a serious problem once it enters the home, which it can do via cracks in the foundation or the floor, an unsealed sump pit cover or within unconditioned crawl spaces. According to EPA estimates, radon is the number one cause of lung cancer for non-smokers (averaging 2,900 deaths per year), while overall is the second leading cause of lung cancer when including smokers (averaging 21,000 deaths per year).
The EPA encourages homeowners to test their home for radon. The EPA website includes information on how to obtain a radon test kit.
Whether a home tests positive for radon or not, homeowners are advised to consider addressing any openings throughout the basement or crawl space that provides an entry for radon. Even if the home doesn’t test positive for radon today, it doesn’t mean that it won’t become an issue down the line. Plus, many of these openings may also provide entry for water and moisture, which serve as another inhibitor towards healthy air quality.
- Repair cracks in poured foundations. The same concept of radon not being a problem today but possibly down the line also applies to water. Just because a crack hasn’t leaked water yet doesn’t mean it won’t later. Our Foundation Crack Repair Kits include all the components necessary to fill cracks from front-to-back and bottom-to-top, providing a permanent stop gap against water and radon. For basement floors, we also have our Slab Crack Repair Kits.
- Consider encapsulating the crawl space. Our extensive line of vapor barriers and installation accessories help create a dry, clean and healthy crawl space environment.
- Enhance concrete surfaces and protect against the infiltration of radon and moisture. Our basement moisture, mold and air quality products include sealers for strengthening concrete structures while minimizing the entry of radon and moisture. In addition, our all-in-one ventilation systems actively remove unhealthy air from the home.
- Check the sump pit. Most lids are unsealed and are an obvious entry for radon. Replacing an existing lid with a sealed sump pit lid is a quick and simple fix that goes a long way.
In addition to employing the waterproofing measures above, homeowners should also seek the consultation of a radon mitigation professional, who will likely have additional measures to help protect the home.
While radon is an easy threat to put off or dismiss entirely, we now have several good reasons to take it seriously. When put into the context of maximizing the value of a home and our own individual health, it is clearly obvious that being proactive in addressing an active radon problem or a potential problem down the line will pay off big in the long run.