How Radon Gas Can Sneak Into Your Fort Collins Home and What to Do About It

As a Fort Collins homeowner, being aware of radon risks should be on your radar. Radon is a radioactive, odorless gas that occurs naturally in certain soils and rocks. It is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. The EPA estimates that nearly 1 in 15 homes in Colorado have dangerous radon levels above 4 pCi/L. With parts of Fort Collins sitting atop soils with higher uranium deposits, radon can accumulate in homes through cracks and openings in the foundation. Protecting your family means learning how radon enters, testing for levels in your home, and installing a mitigation system if necessary.

How Radon Enters Your Home

Radon gas forms from the natural radioactive breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. It gets drawn into your home through suction created by things like furnaces, fans, and even changes in atmospheric pressure. As air gets pulled out of the home, more radon gets sucked in through cracks and gaps in the foundation. Common entry points include:

  • Cracks or spaces in the foundation floor and walls
  • Gaps around service pipes, wires, and vents
  • Joints between walls and floors or concrete slabs
  • Gaps around sump pumps or interior drains
  • Loose fitting crawl space covers

Radon accumulates in homes at higher levels in basements and ground floor spaces. It can move up through walls and vents to upper floors as well. But it enters from the ground underneath. Any openings or hollow spaces in the foundation create an opportunity for radon to get drawn inside.

Health Risks of Radon Exposure

Radon is measured in picocuries per liter (pCi/L) with the EPA recommending mitigation at 4 pCi/L or higher. At these levels, radon decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe. As these particles break down further, the releases energy that damages lung tissue and can lead to lung cancer over time.

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. Roughly 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year are linked to radon exposure. Children are also more vulnerable to radon risks. There is no known safe level, and health risks increase the longer you are exposed and the higher radon levels rise.

Testing Your Fort Collins Home for Radon

The only way to know your home’s radon levels is through testing. Affordable do-it-yourself radon test kits are available at local hardware stores and online. These include charcoal canisters and alpha track detectors you place in the home for 2-7 days then mail to a lab for analysis. Or you can hire a radon professional to do the testing.

The EPA recommends all homes be tested regardless of location or foundation type. Testing in the lowest livable space of the home during fall and winter will provide the most accurate results when windows are closed. If your test comes back at 4 pCi/L or higher, mitigation is recommended. Retest every few years and after renovations to ensure radon levels remain safe.

Installing a Radon Mitigation System

When elevated levels are found, a radon mitigation system can be installed to reduce radon in the home by up to 99%. This system involves drilling a hole through the foundation floor into the soil beneath. A 3-4 inch PVC pipe is inserted with a fan mounted on top. The fan actively draws radon gas from below the home and vents it to the outdoors where it is quickly diluted.

This depressurization prevents radon from being sucked into the home. The fan runs 24/7 with minimal electricity costs. The most crucial factor is having an airtight seal around the pipe penetration through the foundation. Professional installation is recommended over DIY radon mitigation. Look for qualified radon mitigation contractors certified by the NRPP or NRSB.

A radon mitigation system provides reliable protection for your family at a reasonable price starting around $800 to $2500 depending on the home. Get quotes from several certified contractors. Compare not just costs but experience, warranties, fan types, and materials as well. Some radon fan costs may even be covered by home insurance policies.

Maintaining Your Radon Mitigation System

A properly installed radon mitigation system requires minimal long-term maintenance. Follow your contractor’s instructions to keep the system in working order. Fans may need to be replaced every 5-10 years. Visually inspect the system annually for any cracks, leaks or needed repairs. Re-test radon levels every 2 years to confirm the mitigation system is keeping your home safe.

Be Proactive Against Radon Risks

Radon gas is an invisible threat, but easy to test for and mitigate with the right information. Protect your family and your investment by testing for radon, installing a mitigation system if necessary, and maintaining it properly. Being proactive keeps your Fort Collins home safe while supporting your family’s health for years to come.

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