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What you need to know about Radon – even in new homes

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What you need to know about Radon – even in new homes

You can’t see it, smell it or taste it, but radon – a naturally occurring radioactive gas – may be present in your home. Radon can be found virtually everywhere. It is created by the breakdown of uranium found in rock and soil, and when it escapes from the ground and mixes with the air, it is diluted to very low levels. The problem occurs when radon seeps into a home, often through cracks in basement floors and foundations, and gets trapped in enclosed spaces such as basements or crawlspaces.

Since November is National Radon Action Month, let’s share discuss some important facts about radon. Let’s start with the fact that almost every house in Canada has some radon. Concentration levels can vary widely from area to area, and even among different homes in the same neighbourhood. Radon is not the result of a defect in the way a home is constructed, and there is no way to determine if radon is going to be a problem before a home is built.

With proper ventilation, however, radon will dissipate, causing no problems at all. Unfortunately, enclosed spaces without good airflow can develop dangerously high radon levels. Long term exposure to excessive radon can increase the risk of lung cancer.

Similar to carbon monoxide, radon can be detected and measured. Radon is measured in units called becquerels, and Health Canada has set 200 becquerels per cubic metre as the safe limit for radon in a home. The only way to determine levels of radon is to test the levels using either a do-it-yourself radon test kit or by hiring a radon measurement or mitigation professional.

It’s important to note that radon levels can change from year to year, and even throughout the year due to a number of factors. This is something that should be taken into consideration when determining when and how often radon testing should be conducted. For example, seasonal changes can cause radon concentration levels to vary within your home. Health Canada recommends testing for radon between October and April, and using the three-month test. With the changing temperature levels, the weather and air pressure can produce different readings during certain periods.

Major renovations that affect your ventilation or the soil beneath your home can also create new opportunities and routes for radon to enter your home, so if you are planning any structural modifications, such as turning your basement into a living space, it is important to test for radon before beginning renovations. You should also have your home retested after the renovations are complete to determine whether the levels have changed.

If you’re an owner of a new home and you have excessive levels of radon, the good news is that your statutory warranty includes coverage for a full seven years. In fact, Ontario is the only Canadian jurisdiction that covers radon remediation under the new home warranty. To be eligible for coverage, radon levels must be tested over a three month period and whether you use a radon professional or a do-it-yourself test kit, both must be certified through the Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program. Test results showing levels in excess of 200 becquerels should be submitted to Tarion along with the applicable warranty form.

To learn more about radon and your warranty coverage, visit tarion.com or watch our video on YouTube. If you are looking for do-it-yourself radon test kits or for a radon measurement or mitigation professional, contact the Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program at c-nrpp.ca. If you have questions about how to make a warranty claim, you can contact us at 1.877.9TARION or email customerservice@tarion.com.

Howard Bogach is president and CEO of the Tarion Warranty Corp. tarion.com Facebook.com/TarionWarrantyCorp

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