Winters in Chicago can be brutal, and 2019 has already proven to reach record breaking cold. Cold weather can wreak havoc on homes, cars, etc. It will cause things to freeze up or become brittle and crack. Not only pipes, but also foundations and the ground outside. As we know when things get cold and then thawed repeatedly, they expand and contract. This can actually shift the ground enough to release new pockets of radon gases.
Additionally, as warm air escapes through our drafty windows, it can actually create a vacuum called the “stack effect” causing it to suck more radon up through cracks in the basement foundation or sump pumps (any area that is dug deeper underground). This can result in more radon entering the home. Additionally, as radon is a naturally occurring gas, that means it is all around us. It comes up through the soil, cracks in the street, etc. But during the winter months, the ground is frozen and the streets are often covered in a sheet of ice, thus blocking the natural escape of the gases, and redirecting it to where the ground is not covered by ice… under our homes. We also tend to keep our windows closed, crank up the furnace, and recirculate the warm air throughout the house, so this additional radon gas is essentially trapped inside, building up. The more energy efficient our homes are, the more radon gas gets trapped inside.
This is why the mid to late winters months are an ideal time to test for radon. This is the time where we can really see how it pools up in the home, when everything is closed up tightly.