House in Winter

As you know, the only way to determine whether or not your house contains dangerous levels of radon is to have it tested. This is because radon is tasteless, odorless, and only causes damage in the long-term. If you don’t have your home tested, the only way you will find out that it contains dangerous levels of radon is when you or a loved one suffers the consequences and gets diagnosed with lung cancer or suffers another kind of respiratory problem. This is why I urge you time and time again to get your house tested for radon. You will be glad you did.

When you go to test your house to determine the radon levels it contains, it is important that you be aware of the fact that weather can affect radon testing. In this blog, I will outline one of the most common weather situations that can affect testing here in Utah. Due to Utah’s high altitude, we experience low temperatures and high amounts of snow during the winter. This is one of many weather-related factors that can affect radon testing. In this blog, I will briefly explain what is known as the stack effect and how it might affect your radon testing. It is important that you keep this in mind before you decide to test your home.

The Stack Effect

When you test your house in the winter, there are a few factors that can increase the radon levels that the test will detect. One of these conditions is a phenomenon known as the stack effect. The stack effect is the movement of air into and out of buildings due to the buoyancy of air. Allow me to explain further. It is well-known that warm air rises. During the winter, when there is a fresh layer of frost or snow on the ground, the air that is trapped underground is warmer than the air that is above ground.

While warm air is rising, it naturally follows the path of least resistance. As the warmer air moves upward, it will run into the layer of snow or frost on the ground. When the warm underground air is near a house, instead of forcing its way through the snow or frost, the air will naturally move sideways toward the house. This is because the air inside the house is warm and it is easier for the air to move through the house than it is to force its way through the cold floor outside. Because of this, the house will serve as a sort of funnel or catalyst for the warm air to move through. Because there is more underground air moving through the house than there normally is, radon levels will naturally be higher than they otherwise would be.

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