Welcome to ResCom Radon Solutions Blog!

We are your reliable source for radon testing and mitigation in the Kansas City Metro area. Through this blog, we also hope to be a source for radon information and solutions to make your home radon safe!

Please contact us at 816-804-1791 to have your home tested for radon or to receive a free estimate for a radon reduction system.

See http://www.radonkc/ to find out more about ResCom Radon Solutions. We would be glad to speak with you!







Monday, August 6, 2018

A Radon Problem in Your Real Estate Transaction?






We're hearing from realtors all over the metro area that they can't get homes listed quickly enough to meet the demand of eager buyers.  So if you are selling a home these days, that part of the process is moving along quite well in most cases.  However, gone are the days of simply selling a home and moving out.  New regulations and requirements take extra attention, time, and money to process through.  Home buyers and sellers have to rely on the professional services of their realtors, home inspectors, and other home services to work with them through this sometimes complicated process.

Certified radon professionals are one of those services being called upon to assist in the buying/selling process as many home purchasers have become aware of the potentially life-threatening danger of radon gas and are requesting radon testing during the inspection process - a very wise choice!  

Homeowners, on the other hand, oftentimes shudder to see a radon testing unit brought into their home.  "What's that?"  "I never heard of radon."  Recently a homeowner was so disturbed her home was being tested for radon in the sale process, she angrily phoned us with her questions about it and then abruptly hung up on me!

We understand that home sellers as well as purchasers get frustrated so we try to patiently answer their questions and make the process as painless as possible.  But the bottom line is, if unsafe levels of radon are found in a home after testing (the EPA "action level" being 4.0 pCi/L of air), buyers are going to want radon mitigation - and rightly so.  

It has been proven that radon is a radio-active carcinogen and causes lung cancer.  Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among non-smokers in the United States taking the lives of 21,000 people each year.  High levels of radon are frequently found in homes and buildings in the KC metro area.  The counties in the Kansas City area have been designated as "Zone 1" by the EPA meaning unsafe radon levels are found in 1 out of 4 or 5 homes.  Even moderate levels of radon are as damaging as smoking a half pack of cigarettes a day!

While great strides have been made in public awareness of radon, there is still a long way to go.  If everyone was aware of the danger of radon, every home, workplace and school would be tested and, if needed, mitigated.  The best part of that scenario would be that deaths caused by radon would virtually disappear!

So radon is a serious health issue but fortunately, there is a simple solution!  There is a cost, yes.  But that cost is one of the most economical you may ever have to make to improve the quality of your home.

One of the most frequently asked questions we get in a home sale about radon is, "Can high levels of radon really be fixed?  Can I purchase this home and know that my family will be safe?"

Finding out the home you want to purchase has high radon levels can be scary.  We assure home sellers, buyers, and realtors that a high radon level does not and should not derail a sale or make a home unsafe to purchase.

A realtor called us just this past week concerned about a high radon level (37 pCi/L) that was discovered during testing in a home she was helping her client purchase.  The home inspector had written in his report after doing the radon test and seeing these levels that he was concerned this high a radon level could not be mitigated!  A misinformed statement such as that CAN derail a sale - so unnecessarily!

Fortunately she called us, a certified radon professional, and asked the question, "Is that true?"  We were able to explain that that home, any home, can and will be safely mitigated and be radon safe.  And a post-mitigation test will confirm the radon levels have been lowered well below the EPA action level.

Even homes in the 50-60 range of radon levels have been very simply mitigated with a standard exterior system that we frequently install in homes with levels in the 4-10 range.  

So if you are a home buyer, do not shy away from a home that has unsafe levels of radon.  Request mitigation and a post-mitigation test to confirm radon levels are safe.  If you just move on to another home, possibilities are, in the KC area, the next home could have a higher level!   But there is no need to have a real estate sale fall through because of a radon problem.  Radon is an easy and relatively inexpensive fix.  

Radon mitigation systems work and can be installed in just a few hours.  Once the system is up and running, radon levels are usually reduced within 24 hours, the home is re-tested so safe radon levels are verified, and the sale transaction can move forward.

A high radon level may seem like bad news, but it's not all bad!  The good news?  The radon level can be fixed and the home sale can be completed.  More good news is that as homes are tested for radon through the sale and inspection process and mitigated, fewer people are being exposed to dangerous levels of radon gas. 

If you have questions about radon testing or mitigation, please give us a call at ResCom Radon Solutions.  We would be glad to talk with you.  You can also find out a lot of about radon testing and mitigation and view some informative videos at our web site,  www.RadonKC.com.














Tom and Georgiann Manz, Owners
816-804-1791
tmanz@ResComKC.com

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Tis the Season - To Be Radon Aware!

It’s amazing to think we are so soon entering the winter season and the holidays will soon be here!  We have had our furnace checked and are making other winter preparations at our house including checking our radon mitigation system.  This is especially important as we enter cold-weather months.
Now radon is no respecter of seasons - it is always "present."  (Pun intended!)  However, in the winter months when heating systems are being used in homes and buildings, radon levels increase.  It's called the "stack effect" or chimney effect. 

The winter season brings a higher radon levels for two reasons:

1. While a heating system is being used, warm air rises to the highest level of your home seeking a way to leave the home through attic vents. As heat rises, so does radon called the “stack effect” or chimney effect. As this warm air rises, it creates a vacuum bringing in air from any source in the lower areas of a home – in many cases the cracks and joints in a foundation.
 
We are not aware of this air exchange that is going on – nor are we aware of the radon gas that may be entering our homes as air is being drawn in from under and around a foundation. That’s why radon is known as a “silent killer” because it cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted.
 
2. The second reason radon tends to be at higher levels in homes in the winter is because of “closed house conditions.” During times windows are open, fresh outdoor  air can dilute radon levels.  In winter months just the opposite is true.  We try to keep our homes as protected from the winter cold as we can so we keep our homes as tightly closed as possible.

Caution!  If you have had your home tested for radon, and the level was around the action level of 4 pCi/L - either just under or just over, and you didn't have a mitigation system installed because it was "low," it could easily be a higher level in the winter months.  The EPA action level is actually considerably above the World Health Action level of 2.8.
 
Most of us are not concerned about the quality of air around us - we assume, unless we sense a funky odor, that the air is clean and safe.  But unless you test for radon's presence, you and your family could be inhaling the silent killer.
 
January is National Radon Action Month, designated by the EPA and other radon awareness organizations. When homes are tested, the radon danger is exposed and can be easily mediated or removed and families are guaranteed safety from this potential life-threatening danger
 
We didn't know we had dangerous levels of radon in our relatively new home 11 years ago.  We saw a story on a local news station about a Kansas City area man who had his office in his basement.  He didn't know he was inhaling dangerous levels of radon.  After some physical symptoms appeared, he went to a doctor and was shocked to find that he had radon-induced lung caner.  He lost his life within months.
 
This was a revealing and disturbing story since we had never even heard of radon back in 2006.  We ordered a free radon test from the state of Missouri and discovered that we, too, had dangerous levels of radon.  We immediately had our home mitigated and are thankful that danger has been eliminated. 
 
In 2009 we started our radon testing and mitigation business, ResCom Radon Solutions.  Since then we have installed over 1200 mitigation systems in the Kansas city area as well as testing thousands of homes, schools, apartment complexes, and commercial buildings. We are certified through the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists, carry environmental protection insurance, and operate our business with the highest level of integrity and attention to detail.
 
Give us a call to schedule a radon test or to receive a free radon mitigation estimate -and get a bunch more radon information by visiting our web site at www.RadonKC.com.  It’s important that you and your family be protected from potentially high levels of radon gas in your home – whatever the season.
 
And we wish you and your loved ones a blessed and safe holiday!
Tom and Georgiann Manz
Owners
 

 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Where NOT to test for radon - it's important to know this!

The radon business has been quite active lately.  Homes of all types are being sold all over the KC Metro area at rates we have not seen in a decade. Thankfully, more home buyers are aware of the danger of radon and are having their new home purchase tested for this dangerous gas as part of the home inspection process.

Many homes we are testing are being found with exceptionally high levels of radon - a number of homes recently above 50 pCi/L.  The EPA "action" level is 4.0 so these are very dangerous levels and a reminder of how important it is to test homes, schools, and businesses for radon.

Something else we are finding are homes where home inspectors have tested for radon in locations within the home that do not meet EPA protocols - especially older homes with cellar-type basements.  What this means for home buyers and sellers is that the radon tests are not accurately reflecting the radon level perhaps leading to unnecessary mitigation installations or home buyers being scared off making the purchase.

Why is this happening?  Perhaps there has been inadequate radon testing education and training, but whatever the reason, home owners, buyers, and realtors need to have the right information about where to test and where not to test for radon.

EPA protocols state that the LOWEST POSSIBLE, LIVABLE SPACE, of the house should be tested for radon.

Here are some guidelines to help you navigate through the inspection process in reference to radon -

The WHERE-NOT-TO-TEST list:

  • Cellar-type basements where adequate access (i.e. outside cellar doors) and/or low head clearance does not create a livable environment

    If you have to enter a basement area through an outdoor cellar-type entrance, it's most likely that is the type of basement area that will never be finished as a living room or bedroom.

    If a basement area has a head clearance that you can barely stand up in, that is not a "livable" space.

    Those are areas that need NOT be tested for radon according to EPA protocols.

    Houses without livable basements should be tested on the main floor in the central portion of the house such as the inside wall of a living room.
  • Crawl spaces

    Crawl spaces will never become a "livable" area.  The living area above a crawl space is where a radon test should be conducted.
  • Near sump pumps

    Areas close to an unsealed sump pump will cause elevated levels of radon which may not reflect the average radon level in the basement.
  • Laundry rooms, bathrooms, kitchen

    Areas like these create high humidity which affects radon tests.
  • On/near granite counter tops

    Granite counter tops do not usually produce dangerous levels of radon for occupants, but if a radon test unit is placed directly on the granite, the test can be elevated. 

  •   
So, where TO test?
  • In the unfinished or finished basement that could be, or is, a livable space
  • In a home without a basement, test in a main floor living area.

It is important to keep in mind that radon levels on the main floor living area in a home that has tested high in radon in the basement level, will have radon levels 40% - 50% of the levels found in the basement.

Correctly testing for radon can greatly affect the outcome of your real estate inspection.  Make sure your home inspector is certified in radon measurement or contact a certified radon contractor like ResCom Radon Solutions.

The EPA has publications to help home buyers and sellers learn more about radon and how important it is for every home to be tested for radon.  If radon levels are 4.0 or higher, mitigation is recommended.

Contact Tom Manz at ResCom Radon Solutions, 816-804-1791, for more valuable radon testing and mitigation information or visit our website at www.RadonKC.com.  We will be glad to answer questions, provide solutions, and help your home be radon safe!

Thanks for reading!
Tom and Georgiann Manz, Owners
ResCom Radon Solutions

Saturday, January 14, 2017

2017 Radon Action Month!


Never has there been a topic that needs more exposure and public awareness than that of deadly radon gas.  The lack of knowledge of the dangers of radon gas in homes, schools, and businesses is responsible for over 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year - needless loss of life because radon-induced lung cancer is completely avoidable and could be eliminated if every home, school, and business would be tested for the presence of unsafe levels of radon.

Testing for radon is so simple and inexpensive - even free in the state of Missouri!  The Missouri Health Department office in Jefferson City offers homeowners a free radon test kit.  Just go to this link and they'll send it to you free of charge.  You simply return the test according to the directions and they send you the results.

https://health.mo.gov/living/environment/radon/testkit.php

As radon professionals, nearly every week we encounter a disgruntled customer who is selling a property that the buyer has requested be tested for radon as a part of the inspection process.  The seller is often one who has never heard of radon (and doesn't want to know about it), or has heard of it and doesn't believe it (head in the sand).

Many times the disbelieving seller seems to blame the radon professional for the problem of radon!  You can say you don't believe in gravity, but the evidence says gravity exists!  The same is true with radon.  No, it can't be seen, smelled, or tasted, but its effects can kill and its reality is without question.

In an effort to raise awareness and eliminate the lack of knowledge about radon, the EPA has designated the month of January as National Radon Action Month. 

Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer deaths - 160,000 per year  - also mostly preventable but it is still a free country and people can gamble with their health if they choose to do so.  Second hand smoke causes an estimated 3,000 deaths a year.  But radon, much misunderstood and maligned, causes 21,000 deaths per year.

By the 1990's, enough evidence had been gathered by medical and scientific experts to determine that radon was a serious health hazard and the EPA established a radon department to not only lay down guidelines for radon testing and mitigation, but to promote radon awareness.  The American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, and individual state agencies are very actively promoting radon awareness.

Web MD has a good overview of the danger of radon at http://www.webmd.com/lung-cancer/tc/radon-topic-overview

The simple conclusion is that radon is a very real health hazard.  We can choose to ignore the risk and put our families' lives in danger; or we can take the logical choice to simply TEST - FIX - SAVE LIVES!

At ResCom Radon Solutions, we hope that you will make the informed choice for your family!  We are available to make a presentation about radon to any community group that would like more information.  We hope to be able to do our part to see the threat of radon outa here!

Thanks for reading!

Tom and Georgiann Manz
ResCom Radon Solutions
816-804-1791

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Raising Radon Awareness In Kansas City - Reducing Risk

Radon awareness has come a long way the last 30 years.  It has been a long row to hoe but thanks to organizations such as the American Cancer Society, the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST), the EPA, and state health and radon agencies across the country the word is getting out -to those who will pay attention:

RADON IS A SERIOUS HEALTH RISK

An example of how difficult this has been is hearing comments like the one from the developer of our subdivision in eastern Jackson County when having a conversation with someone from our company. He huffed and said radon didn't exist - it was just underground nuclear testing.

Of course he was grossly uninformed but we hear comments like this frequently!  But when you hear the stories of those who have been diagnosed with radon-induced lung cancer (21,000 people lose their lives each year to this needless disease), radon becomes a life and death issue!

Most of the state of Kansas and many counties in Missouri including all the Kansas City metro area have been designated through records of radon testing to be a "Zone 1" radon risk - the highest levels of radon may be frequently found - as many as 1 in 4 homes.



Of course radon doesn't only affect homes - it affects schools and work places as well!  Radon gas enters homes and buildings through cracks and openings in foundations but because of its radioactive nature, it can actually come through concrete floors as well.

And it makes no difference if a home is new or old, walkout basement, crawl space, or built on a slab, ANY home or building may have unhealthy levels of radon.

Just a simple test - in Missouri a FREE test from our state health office - can give an accurate reading of radon levels.

https://health.mo.gov/living/environment/radon/testkit.php

Radon mitigation is an easy and relatively inexpensive fix compared to most home repairs - and we're not just talking home improvement here!  We're talking about the health of you and your family - even your pets!   CanSAR (Cancer Survivors Against Radon) recently published this article about a family's pets in Wisconsin -

http://www.cansar.org/index.php/2016/07/07/radon-is-possible-culprit-in-the-passing-of-wisconsins-womans-two-dogs/

The state of Kansas radon office at K State recently published a newsletter sharing these statistics about the state's radon issue:

"In the state fiscal period of July 2015-June 2016, a total of 19,304 radon measurements were reported to the Kansas Radon Program (KRP) at Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) by Kansas certified radon technicians and radon laboratories. Of those measurements, 12,442 (64%) were reported by certified radon technicians and 6,862 (36%) were reported by certified radon laboratories.

Of the total 19,304 reported measurements, 6,920 measurements (36%) were 4 pCi/L or higher. Certified radon mitigation professionals reported 3,734 new mitigation system installations for the same period (July 2015-June 2016).  The reported mitigations indicate that approximately 54% of elevated homes identified in that period had their radon levels reduced."

We would hope that if ANYONE discovered they had unsafe radon levels in their home they would mitigate but at least 3,734 homes in the state of Kansas that had unsafe levels, are now radon safe.

The Kansas radon newsletter also published this revealing chart of Johnson County KS:



No question - Johnson County homes, schools, and businesses have a very high risk of unsafe radon levels.

Radon awareness has a long way to go.  Until we see every building, home, and school tested for radon, the health hazard will remain.  But as our public and private radon programs and agencies continue in the challenge to inform about radon, as they say, "little by little, step by step," radon induced cancer will cease to take lives.  Oh, happy day!

The moral of the story is - be radon aware!

For more information, explore these great resources:

.
http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/pollution/radon

https://www.epa.gov/radon

http://www.kansasradonprogram.org/home

http://www.cansar.org/

Thanks for reading and breath well!

Tom and Georgiann Manz,
ResCom Radon Solutions
www.RadonKC.com
816-804-1791

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Passive Radon Systems - The Good News and the Bad News


By Tom and Georgiann Manz, ResCom Radon Solutions www.RadonKC.com

Seeing new homes springing up in the Kansas City area is a great thing.  That means more people are going to work each day and families are enjoying new neighborhoods in their new homes. 
In an effort to reduce the serious health risk of high radon levels in homes in the Kansas City area, many communities are requiring builder-installed “passive radon systems.”  This is a good thing meaning there is more radon awareness and, hopefully, new homes being built will have safer levels of radon.  In this “upside,” however, we, at ResCom Radon Solutions, are seeing a “downside.”  The downside is:

1.       Builders frequently are not properly installing passive radon systems.

2.      Home buyers are being lead to believe their home is “radon safe” with their passive radon system; therefore they are not having the home radon tested during the home inspection process.

What is a “passive radon system?”
For the purpose of definition, a “passive” radon system relies on natural pressure differentials and air currents instead of a fan (used with active radon mitigation systems) to draw radon up from below the home.

According to the EPA, radon resistant construction should include:

-Installing a layer of clean gravel or aggregate beneath the slab or flooring system
-Laying polyethylene sheeting on top of the gravel layer

-Including a gas-tight venting pipe from the gravel level through the building to the roof (a passive radon system)
-Sealing and caulking the foundation thoroughly

 The radon-resistant construction components and a passive radon system help reduce the effect of soil gas pressure under the home.  If installed properly, the passive system helps air and soil gasses from beneath the basement floor flow up through the pipe to vent safely to the outdoors.

HOWEVER, studies are showing a passive radon system may very likely not have enough natural air flow to eliminate radon gas to the safest levels – especially if the passive radon system has not been installed correctly. 
 
If radon levels are still proven to be unsafe in a home with a passive radon system, a fan can be installed on the existing pipe in the attic to pull the radon gas from under the basement floor into the vent pipe where it can be exhausted outside the house. The addition of a fan and its associated wiring creates an "active" radon system. 

Even though passive radon systems are a good first step in new home construction, there are potential unseen problems that may exist – issues that the builders, buyers, or their realtors may not be able to recognize.

Builders typically use their plumbing contractors to install passive radon system vent piping from below the basement floor extending up through the framing, through the attic and out the roof.  Since most plumbers do not have specific training in radon system design and operation, they often make critical mistakes that limit or completely negate the purpose and effectiveness of the passive radon system.
Passive radon system design flaws include:

1.      The installation of the sub-slab suction pipe is not properly connected to the gravel bed.

2.      Although 3 inch vent pipe may be used in the basement, it is often reduced to a 2 inch pipe at the main floor level in order to pass more easily through the 2x4 house framing  This size reduction eliminates the possibility of using a radon fan for an active system due to the fan’s minimum 3 inch pipe requirement. 

3.      Vent piping in the attic is frequently installed up through or close to an outer wall not leaving a minimum of 18 inches of clear space in the attic between the ceiling joists and roof rafters.  This prohibits installing a radon fan in that location using the existing roof penetration. 

4.      Horizontal vent pipe runs are often not graded properly to allow condensation to drain through the vent piping back to the sub-slab gravel bed.  This becomes evident when the system is activated with a fan and water builds up in the pipe creating a sloshing sound which is annoying to the home owner, reduces the air flow of the radon system, and shortens the life of the fan.
Good news – bad news

Many builders in the KC area are installing passive radon systems as a part of their new construction process – the good news.  The bad news - many new home buyers (and builders, realtors, and home inspectors) assume that because a house has a passive radon system, they don’t need to be concerned about radon levels and, as a result, do not conduct a life-saving radon test during the home inspection process.
Since 40-50% of the homes tested for radon in the Kansas City area have levels above the EPA’s action level of 4.0 pCi/L (picocuries per liter of air), radon testing for all homes should be a major concern for residents.



What is the solution?


1.       First and foremost, every home should be tested for radon during the home inspection process!


2.       Builders, realtors and buyers need to be aware that having a passive radon system DOES NOT mean a home is radon safe. 

3.      If unsafe levels of radon are found in a home with a passive system, a certified radon contractor should be called in to examine the existing passive system and install a radon fan in the attic to activate the system.

4.       Certified radon contractors should be consulted in the passive design process and in the activation process. 

The issue of radon in homes, schools, and work places is a serious health issue.  Radon awareness is improving among realtors, builders, and the general population, but we still have a long way to go when you consider over 20,000 people each year needlessly lose their lives to radon-induced lung cancer.
How tragic that lives are lost from inhaling a natural-occurring gas that can be easily discovered by a simple air test and eliminated by an inexpensive radon mitigation system.  As radon awareness increases through proper information from builders, realtors, and home inspectors, radon deaths will lower and hopefully, one day, be a thing of the past.
 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Radon Mitigation Saves Lives!

Did you know?  Unsafe levels of radon are found in the entire Kansas City metro area including Clay, Platte, Jackson, and Cass counties in Missouri, and Johnson, Wyandotte, and all of the eastern Kansas counties are included in the EPA-designated Zone 1 - the highest incidence of radon.  (Zone I designated in red).




 
What this means is that in homes, businesses, and schools that are radon tested, one out of three or four have unsafe levels of radon.  Since radon-induced lung cancer takes the lives of over 20,000 people each year, this should concern us all. 

A simple, inexpensive radon test can detect unsafe levels.  And, if needed, a relatively inexpensive radon mitigation system can eliminate the presence of radon.  In other words, RADON GONE!

A radon test can be done FREE in the state of Missouri by contacting: 

http://health.mo.gov/living/environment/radon/testkit.php

The Kansas radon office offers inexpensive radon test packets:

http://sosradon.org/test-kits

If a radon test comes back at, or above, the EPA "action" level of 4.0, radon mitigation is a must.

Here is how a radon mitigation can be easily installed in your home:


1.    ResCom’s installation crew uses a diamond bit core drill to bore a 4 inch hole through the concrete floor.  This creates the suction point for the system to draw air from beneath the basement floor slab.





2.    A schedule 40 PVC pipe is then inserted into the hole.
 



3.    The pipe then is extended up through the rim joist or foundation to the exterior of the house.



 

4.    The radon fan is mounted in line with the pipe on the outside of the house.
 



 
5.    The exterior vent pipe then extends up and around the gutter to an EPA minimum height of 10 feet above the ground and 10 feet away from an opening window.





6.    To finish the installation, we clean and calk obvious small cracks within 25 feet of the suction point and seal large cracks and openings throughout the basement floor area.
 


7.    As a part of the finishing touches, the sump pit opening is sealed to prevent household air from being drawn through the sump pit into the radon system.
 



8.    Finally a “manometer” is installed on the vertical section of the pipe which indicates vacuum performance of the system and gives the homeowner a constant indication of proper system operation.
 




All pipes and components are then labeled to insure proper identification and reduce the chance of system damage or misuse.
 




9.  The radon system is now functioning and begins to pull the air from beneath the basement slab venting it safely to the outside.
 




10.  An alternative to the exterior mitigation system, is an interior system.  The vent pipe comes up through a closet or the garage into the attic where the radon fan is mounted and vented through the roof.  The advantage of this type of system is that it does not show on the outside of the house.
 


 

After a radon mitigation system is installed, there is a post-mitigation test done to confirm that the radon level has been reduced.


There you have it!  Any home, business, or school can, and should be radon safe!  Truly, lives are saved when radon is eliminated. 
 
For more information, visit www.RadonKC.com.  ResCom Radon Solutions provides quick and reliable radon testing and mitigation services.