A little gassy...


A few months ago, while stuck in rush hour traffic, I heard a public service announcement for radon gas, and how it was critical that everyone test their homes for the silent, but deadly killer.

I dismissed the radio ad until I overheard a coworker discussing it while at an after hours get together. He had tested his home for the presence of radon and discovered a level more than 18-times the recommended limit. After having a mitigation system installed, the level dropped to well below the recommended limit.

I figured that between the radio ads and the stories, I should test the house I'm currently living in. I sent away for a DIY test kit, conducted the test, and was shocked to find that my house had a radon level of around 9.0 pCi/L (the maximum limit is around 4.0). I ordered a second kit to verify the result, and sure enough, I was clearly over the limit.

After searching around for some radon mitigation specialists, I chose a contractor that was highly recommended by my neighbors and coworkers. I scheduled an appointment, and within a few days, a technician arrived and installed the mitigation system.

Radon seeps into your home primarily through the basement - cracks in the foundation, the sump pit, and leaky windows are usually the culprits. The contractor began by sealing the sump pit and any foundation cracks. Here's a peek at my sump cover, after the sealing work:


There's an inspection window in the top, so that I can determine if the pit is getting too full. Given that the house is 25+ years old and has never flooded, it's unlikely that the basement will require a sump pump.

The contractor then cut a hole into the basement floor and inserted an extraction tube into the drainage tiles. The extraction tube is basically a large diameter PVC pipe that ties-in to the drainage tiles/pipes. The tube extends through up through the ceiling, and makes its way into the garage. Here's the tube as installed in the basement:


The extraction tube extends from the basement into the garage, where it hugs the garage wall while en route to the attic. In the attic is a large fan assembly that vents air from the drainage tiles up through the roof and into the sky. Here's a shot of the pipe in the garage:


The entire process took about 5 hours, and the cost was extremely reasonable. The technician was extremely friendly and kept me in the loop as he worked on the system. A few days after the system was installed, another company rep stopped by with a radon test system, which she left in the basement for a few days.

When she returned, she printed the results, which showed my radon levels had dropped from 9.0 pCi/L to 0.9 pCi/L. That's quite a reduction!

The system is apparently doing its job, which is good. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer (outside of smoking), and is responsible for more than 20,000 deaths annually.

If you haven't yet tested your home for the presence of radon, I'd suggest that you do. The test kits cost about $15 and are incredibly easy to use. Radon is odorless and invisible, so there isn't any way to detect it on your own, outside of a test.

=== Other news ===

I received a surprise phone call over labor day weekend - my friend John from Minneapolis was in town, so we got together for a visit down at the Memorial Union Terrace. It was great to catch up with him; I haven't seen him since he was in Wisconsin for a SCUBA diving trip a few years ago. We enjoyed a few beverages while on the terrace, had dinner at a local restaurant, and called it a night. I have to keep in better touch.

...and finally...

I just came in from performing a minor upgrade to the motorcycle. Harley's have notoriously dim brake/tail lights, so I upgraded from the stock lights to a "BAL-1" system. BAL stands for "Bright @ss Lights," which consist of some super intense LED lights.

The installation was simple; a few screws, some new gaskets, and a zip-tie were all that were necessary to go from obscurity to an obscenely bright light that's sure to be noticed by even the sleepiest and obtuse of drivers.

Here's a video from the vendor that shows how the unit works, and how bright it is.

I set mine to the 2nd setting, which flashes the brakelight three times before remaining solid. It seems like the most "attention getting" without being overly obnoxious. Next up on the upgrade list are some new front brakes - I'll be swapping out the spongy stock front brakes for a set of super powerful Brembo brakes.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steve published on September 16, 2012 9:49 PM.

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