The Inspector

By NPI, Inc.



Controlling Radon in Your Home During Winter

 January 7, 2022 |  Home Maintenance, Safety |  winter, foundation, radon, hvac, insulation, ventilation

Radon is one of the leading causes of lung cancer in the United States and Canada. The odorless, colorless gas can go undetected in a home for years and only get noticed when it’s too late. During the winter, radon levels can spike indoors and pose even more of a threat to you. With January being Radon Action Month, it’s a great opportunity to lower your radon risk during the colder months.

Radon and the Cold
As the temperature begins to drop outside, radon levels can start to rise in your home. Winter is almost equal to summertime in terms of radon spikes. Although everyone has minimal exposure to radon at all times, certain factors can contribute to you being exposed to unsafe levels. A few of the causes of higher radon during cold months are: 

  • More time indoors 
  • Less fresh air 
  • Stack effect 
  • Cold or frozen soil

Stuck Inside
Winter brings with it chilly temperatures that usually keep us inside. However, being stuck inside for several months can be dangerous. If your home already has above-safe levels of radon, you’re increasing the chances of severe health risks by staying shut in. Especially if you have a below-ground level that you like to spend time in, you’re putting yourself even closer to radon.

Closed Up Home
You probably won’t be able to open up your home as often during winter. This means less fresh air circulating inside. During warmer months, allowing fresh air to enter your home can help dilute any radon gas. In winter, closing your doors and windows the majority of the time allows the gas to build up. That gas can then stay in your home for days and stay at a high level as more creeps in.

Blanketing Snow
Snow and frozen soil can create a blanket effect around your home. This causes radon gas to follow the path of least resistance– your home’s foundation. Much like your closed up home, frozen ground allows for the radon gas to build up more. With your home being its only means of escape, that built up gas all starts flowing in through your foundation. Unfortunately, there’s no great way to “release” the radon gas from underneath the snow aside from warming the ground.

The Stack Effect
The stack or chimney effect is a very common issue for multi-level houses. Sometimes even called the vacuum effect, this instance happens when there are drastic differences between the temperature inside and outside your home. As the hot air rises, it tries to escape through the highest level of your home. Your home will then begin to pull air from the lowest level, which oftentimes contains harmful radon gas. The gas then moves through your home as it circulates around and puts your health at risk.

Protecting Yourself from Wintertime Radon
It can be difficult to mitigate your risk of high radon exposure during the winter. For the most part, you’re at the mercy of the elements. The best thing you can do to mitigate the chance of prolonged exposure is getting outside as much as you can when the weather warms up. If you can, try to crack a window or two for a bit and allow fresh air to enter. A heat recovery ventilator can also help by using outgoing air to heat up fresh air, which can save you money. Even reversing your fans will reduce the amount of radon in the otherwise stagnant air. Of course, the best way to protect yourself is by performing regular testing and installing a mitigation system. You’ll know when radon levels are getting to unsafe levels and can act quickly to stay safe.

Inspect to Prevent
Before purchasing a home, always have it inspected by a licensed professional. Find your local NPI radon inspector and schedule an appointment today!

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