This is a guest post from Shane, the author of the Debt Crushing Dad blog and a father of three. He and his family started on the debt free journey in 2007 with over $90,000 in debt. Currently they owe about $25,000.
If you are anything like me, paying off debt has become the lens through which you see the world. I hesitate to do anything that would take away from the goal of paying down debt. This can be good and bad. Good in that it helps me to get out of debt faster and bad in that it can cause me to make bad decisions about issues that are more important than money.
A friend recently suggested that everyone in our area have their house tested for Radon. I didn’t think much of it as I have heard the term before, but no one I knew had ever been very concerned about it. To be perfectly honest, I was afraid that something would be wrong and I would have to pay a lot of money and derail my debt payments. It was easier, but stupider, to assume that everything was fine as it was. After my wife asked me a few more times I finally went to our local health department and purchased a $7 detection kit. I’m very glad that I did.
So what is Radon?
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US. It’s a radioactive gas that derives from the decay of uranium and thorium in the soil and bedrock. Certain areas are worse than others, but every home is at risk. Your house acts like a chimney for it due to the lower air pressure versus outside. Over time, as you breathe, the radioactive particles get into your lung tissue and then decay, giving off a burst of energy that can cause dangerous cell mutations to occur, the first step in a cancerous growth. Generally your immune system destroys these cells before they can become a tumor, but it isn’t a guarantee so minimizing your exposure is a must. Outside air usually contains about 4.0 pCi/L (Picocuries Per Liter). This is now considered to be the upper limit for safety indoors. Our test showed levels of 106.5 pCi/L!! To put that into perspective, a level of 20.0 is equivalent to smoking five packs of cigarettes a day.
So, obviously, we set about figuring out what to do about this. I was feeling pretty guilty about having exposed our family to this (albeit unknowingly) for the last three plus years, but realized that I couldn’t change the past and finding a solution was my top priority. We ended up having two different Radon specialists come to our house to give us an estimate. My biggest fear was that they were going to tell us that there was nothing they could do, leaving us in an unsellable and unhealthy home. Thankfully there are solutions and they’re pretty affective.
The contractor that we decided to go with tells us that his system can generally get the levels down to about 0.6 pCi/L. A huge improvement over where things stand now. The process involves drilling a hole in the foundation and inserting a pipe. The pipe extends all the way above the roof and an inline fan pulls the bad air from below the foundation and exhausts it where it is diluted and swept away before it can enter the house.
The cost for the system is about $925 installed. Thankfully we had a $1000 emergency fund in place. I always have to fight to keep from feeling down about losing debt reduction time when stuff like this happens. It means one more month of paying on our debts. When I feel that way, I remind myself that this was going to happen anyway, and because we were prepared, we won’t be incurring more debt to get it fixed.
The lesson I want to pass on here is to not neglect important things just to get out of debt a little faster. Get a physical every year and maybe even keep the gym membership. Your health is more important than your debt free date. And you should contact your local health department for information on a Radon detection test kit.
We’re always on the lookout for interesing, motivational and real life personal debt stories. It doesn’t matter whether you are an established debt blogger or have just started blogging. We’d love to have you share your personal debt story. Feel free to contact us at any time with your personal debt story.