My new house has radon

  • #26
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Half-life is four days; month gets you to "equilibrium" with Ra in a "closed" system. Couple months should clean LP far as any hitchhikers, and it gets that in transport and storage.

You are looking at a structure that is located over: 1) fairly mobile ground water in fractured "hot" rock; 2) loose fill covering a truckload of radium painted aircraft instrument dials from WW II, or something similarly savory; 3) a major ore body.

I'm inclined to think "2)." Fill that "breathes" well enough to move that much radon isn't the place to be sitting next time Hurricane Agnes comes through. Been years since I've been back that way, but I don't remember a whole lot of Jurassic outcrops above the "fall zone;" doesn't mean there aren't any, and doesn't mean some of the glacial till in valley floors ain't ground up Jurassic "hot stuff." Should be a "Soil Report" with the rest of the real estate paperwork on the property, that is a "swelling clay" area --- I know a garage slab in Wilmington that had an 8" heave summer to winter. Whether it'll give you an original surface profile and finished grade specifications is another question.
 
  • #27
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Did the seller worn you about?You might be able to get them to pay to get the radon removed
 
  • #28
Akis
i'm writting this message in response to your question about radon. all the walls emit radon, but by freshing the atmosphaire of your house, you'll be able to lessen the numbers of radon. you can do this by opening your windows many times per day. In other worlds let the sun get in your house..
 
  • #29
russ_watters
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Moonbear said:
I might be pickier than other people, but when I was shopping for houses, if I saw a sump pump, I immediately checked it off my list. My reasoning is that people don't install sump pumps unless they're needed. And it means the basement doesn't just get a little trickle of water that you might be able to seal up, but that there's enough seepage to create a small pond during a rainstorm. While the sump pump theoretically will keep the water from accumulating (depending on whether it can keep up with the amount of water coming in), it still means a substantial amount of water gets in and the basement will be damp so you can't finish it or put much in it without raising it all up off the floor.
I'm reasonably certain it's the law in PA that every basement needs a sump pump. I've never seen a basement without one. In the disclosure statement, it says the sump pump has never run, and being on the side of a hill, I can't imagine it ever would.

One thing about the economics - PA is pretty hot (there is a large gelogical deposit of uranium, stretching from the middle of PA, through north Jersey, and into New York): something like half of all houses in southeastern PA have a radon problem, and because it is that common, it may not have that much of an impact on the economics.
 
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  • #30
Evo
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russ_watters said:
I'm reasonably certain it's the law in PA that every basement needs a sump pump. I've never seen a basement without one. In the disclosure statement, it says the sump pump has never run, and being on the side of a hill, I can't imagine it ever would.
I've never seen a basement without a sump pump, if water gets in your basement, you want it proactively removed to prevent flooding.

I'm sorry to hear about this snag with your new home, better you found out before you purchased so you can make an informed decision.
 
  • #31
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I, for one, wouldn't really let it influence my decision of whether to buy the house or not. If it is the asthetics thing, the sump pump is usually in a closet, in a finished basement, and if not, it's already an eyesore anyway. Running it out of the pit, out the side of the house, and up the exterior of the wall can be done in such a way that it blends in. I used to run it from the pump to the wall, up to the 2nd floor joists (above grade), out the side. Once outside, mount the fan (which cuts down on the constant humming of the motor, what little there actually is). On top of the fan you can put an adapter that changes from a 4" round pipe to a rectangular shape. (I forget the technical name but any hardware store should have it in their gutter section). I then ran aluminum gutter (or plastic) up along the exterior of the home, above the roofline. The nice part about this method is the downspouts can be painted to match the exerior house color and it looks 100x's better than fat PVC pipe running up the side of your house. That, I believe is a little innovation that was a big selling point. Might want to mention that if looks is a concern.
It's cheap, (can even be done as a DIY project), and I could do it in 2-3 hours, if coming out of a pit. Now if you have crawl spaces, which I doubt in a townhouse, that's a different story.
Often, even in houses with this level of radon, mitigation can be done with one suction point, without sealing every nook and cranny in your slab and walls.
I would hate for you to pass up a house you love, for something as simple a fix as this one. Hope this helps. Good luck.
 
  • #32
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Evo said:
I've never seen a basement without a sump pump, if water gets in your basement, you want it proactively removed to prevent flooding.
Really? I've only seen sump pumps in wet basements...they're installed usually after the first flooded basement. If you don't need it, why would you want a gaping hole in the floor in the basement? Water shouldn't get in in the first place, so if they're putting in a sump pump, that says to me someone had reason to think water could get in. I've never lived in a house with a sump pump, and never needed one. Of all my friends and relatives, I only had one great-aunt who had a sump pump, and she definitely needed it. Her house was around 100 years old when I was a kid and definitely had a leaky basement that flooded when it rained (stone foundation...those almost always get moisture in even the best of cases). When I was looking at houses, you could just tell that the basements with sump pumps got water in them...they all smelled really musty. It was tough finding a house that didn't need one though in Cincinnati...the soil there has a lot of clay that doesn't drain well, so during hard rains, a lot of the houses are practically sitting in a bowl of water around the foundation. But where I grew up, the soil was very sandy and drainage was never a problem unless you lived at the bottom of a hill and got all the run-off, so nobody had sump pumps, and it was really rare for anyone to have even a damp basement let alone a flooded basement.

Russ, in the area you're looking, is there a similar issue of the ground being of a type that many homes are prone to flooded basements that they'd install them in every home just assuming they'll flood at some point? Maybe because they're building on rock? I don't know anyone who bought a home in Philly; most everyone I know bought on the Jersey side and commutes/commuted to Philly.
 
  • #33
Evo
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All of the homes built within the last 20 years that I've been in had sump pumps already built in. The only homes I haven't seen them in were older homes.
 
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  • #34
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I guess it depends on local regulations, and I can only speak for here, any new house with a basement is required to have drain tile around the foundation which flows into the sump pit. Whether or not an actual pump is installed, is dependant on whether, during construction, water collects in the pit. If it stayed dry, a pump wasn't installed. Better safe than sorry. If water starts coming up through the slab, post-construction, you can't always just dig a pit and call it good. It usually turns into a very expensive, labor intensive undertaking. (sorry to keep popping in here with these "nuggets", but we did this too).
 
  • #35
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RVBUCKEYE said:
I guess it depends on local regulations, and I can only speak for here, any new house with a basement is required to have drain tile around the foundation which flows into the sump pit. Whether or not an actual pump is installed, is dependant on whether, during construction, water collects in the pit. If it stayed dry, a pump wasn't installed. Better safe than sorry. If water starts coming up through the slab, post-construction, you can't always just dig a pit and call it good. It usually turns into a very expensive, labor intensive undertaking. (sorry to keep popping in here with these "nuggets", but we did this too).
But that's my point. If water is coming in even during the construction, I wouldn't want that house. Why would anyone buy a house that they can't even keep dry when it's brand new?
 
  • #36
russ_watters
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In some places, that's all you have to work with. It really isn't that big of a deal - my parents' house has a basement that gets wet and while the sump pump runs quite a bit, it's only evehad water on the floor once in 20 years.
 
  • #37
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Moonbear said:
But that's my point. If water is coming in even during the construction, I wouldn't want that house. Why would anyone buy a house that they can't even keep dry when it's brand new?
May be all they can afford.
 
  • #39
Averagesupernova
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Moonbear, if a basement gets wet in an area where the soil is quite clay-like I would say it is because they are not getting water to drain away from the house on top of the ground and it stands next to the foundation and eventually finds its way in. Landscaping can go a long way to keep a basement dry. Some basements however, will have water come in from the bottom up. This is why they have perforated pipes along footings which drain into the sump. For those of you who have a sump, it most likely has a cover over it, take a look in it. There may be water setting in the bottom right now. It collects there from the perforated tiling that is burried around your house. A sump pump in a basement to me means that the house is somewhat modern or whoever built it used their head thinking of what can happen. They most likely used their head in other areas too.
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Russ, I wouldn't buy that house if it were me. Not necessarily because of the radon, but that doesn't sweeten the deal. My reason is the propane heat and they way the gas is distributed. I know of a small town that had an explosion because a utility company cut a gas line on the neighbors yard. Propane is heavier than air and doesn't readily come out of the ground where natural gas is lighter than air and won't collect in low places. In this case, the gas seeped over onto the victims property and into the basement. An explosion soon followed and killed the guy. The cut pipe was NOT part of a distribution network and simply went from a 500 gallon tank into the neighbors basement. With a distribution network, the gas will more easily find its way to a basement. Another example I can think of is a grain elevator explosion triggered by someone lighting a match in the basement of the office. A leaky propane pipe buried close by caused the basement to accumulate with gas and it went off when a construction worker lit a match because of a burned out light bulb. Propane is an EXCELLENT fuel but I treat it with respect. I am not a fan of burying pipe carrying propane close to my house or anyplace the fuel could potentially leak into and collect.
 
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  • #40
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Averagesupernova said:
My reason is the propane heat and they way the gas is distributed.
This is a good point. I was surprised when I read about this distribution system. I'd never heard of doing propane this way before, and it struck me as risky. Propane always requires more care than natural gas.
 
  • #41
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How does that work, having propane distributed from some central tank? Does someone have to come out to refill it, or is there a pipeline supplying it? Who's in charge of making sure it's filled, and what happens if it runs low or out just before a blizzard? Do you have a meter and get charged for your individual usage, like with any other gasline, or does everyone chip in to the community "pot" to get it filled every so often, so your gas bill is at the mercy of every neighbor who wants to keep the home heated to 80 degrees and has a houseful of guests over taking hot showers every weekend? I know nothing of this sort of system, so some of these questions may sound really weird to anyone who is familiar with it. I've only heard of using propane for mobile homes or out in really rural areas that they haven't run natural gas out to yet, but then it's your own tank and your own responsibility to fill it (and it really sucks when it runs low on a cold night...had that happen with an RV...then everyone is fighting over who gets the dog to sleep in their bed :biggrin:).
 
  • #42
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Sounds like a quetion for Hank Hill.
 
  • #43
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zoobyshoe said:
Sounds like a quetion for Hank Hill.
:rofl: "Propane and propane-related accessories."

But...it's not quetion! :grumpy: It's a real question! If it was a quetion, I'd have asked it over in the stupid quetion thread. :mad: :tongue:
 
  • #44
Averagesupernova
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Moonbear, I'm sure it's metered. No one in their right mind would just chip in.
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I'd prefer a cute gal over a dog, especially the 2 legged kind of dog. What kind of dog were you fighting over?
 
  • #45
russ_watters
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It is individually metered and distributed as if it were natural gas. To make the houses look pretty, they installed the meters 4 feet off the ground, between the garage and the front door (visible in the pic in my other thread). :rolleyes: Good place for a bush...
 
  • #46
vik3001
radon concentration 6.2

I am in the process of buying a townhome and the radon level is > 4. it is 6.2. should i buy the home if the seller puts a mitigation system? or should i just walk away from the deal since mitigation systems dont work much.

anybody else in this situation ever. pls help, need advice


more data: the seller said that he lived in the house and did a test many yrs ago close to 1.0. also he has rented it since then, but the tenants moved out in feb and its been closed for 4 months, the windows, doors etc. only once a month seller goes to get his mail.

is the closed condition also contributed to a 6.2 reading?
 
  • #47
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Do not under any circumstances take the word of the seller. When my wife and I bought this place, the seller claimed that the roof never leaked. When we got an early thaw the first winter, so that ice would hold the water against the roof, the roof leaked like a sieve. Then (duh!) I got up on the roof and found out that the shingles had been installed by a bunch of drunks, with exposed nail-heads everywhere. It cost me $6000 for a new roof (in February). A radon problem that is understated by the seller and that cannot be properly mitigated is going to cost you a LOT more than that.
 

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