Testing your home for radon is an extremely easy and inexpensive thing for homeowners to do that can drastically reduce the future potential for lung cancer in you and your family. Knowledge of what is in the air in your home, even if you can’t see it, can give you the tools you need to make decisions regarding mitigation of radon gas if it is present. While potentially having radon is an easy problem to ignore since there are no immediate effects or symptoms of exposure, ignoring the possibility and not having your house tested could be setting your family and yourself up for future health problems in the decades to come. To help you in taking the first step in making sure your home is a safe place, here are some tips on how you can conduct radon testing yourself at home. If you would prefer to have a professional conduct the test, radon mitigation companies do offer this service.
- Kits are available with everything you need to test your home for radon and they have excellent instructions to guide you along the way. These kits are made by a variety of companies and can be found in most home improvement and hardware stores. Most kits are very affordable and can be found for under $20. Some kits include the lab fee and others charge a separate fee. The most important thing to consider when choosing a kit is to make sure that the kit meets EPA standards. Within approximately two weeks of buying the kit, you should be able to have results and be able to assess your next steps.
- Place your testing kit in a room on the first livable floor of your home. For example, if you have a family room in your basement, the kit should be placed in this room. If your basement is simply used for storage and nobody spends any significant time there, you should place it in a room on the first floor of your house. Try to avoid placing it in rooms where there may be significant moisture such as a kitchen, bathroom or laundry room. The best option is a room that you regularly spend time in such as a living room or bedroom.
- Depending on the size of your home, you may need more than one kit. In a large house, radon levels can vary across the house depending on how the house was constructed. If your house is larger than 2,000 square feet, it is recommended that you use two kits in your house. Use the same guidelines as mentioned above such as staying away from rooms with moisture, but spread your kits out to get an accurate sample of both sides of your house.
- Use your home like you normally would while you are testing for radon. Let your HVAC system heat or cool your house and continue to operate any radon mitigation systems that you already have installed. Make sure that you leave your windows and doors shut during the testing period so that the house doesn’t air out and show less radon than there actually is. It is fine to come and go from your house through the door, just don’t leave it open all day. The goal is to get a test sample that is accurate of what your house is like on a daily basis, not a sample that gives you the result you want to hear.
- After you have completed your testing in your home, don’t waste any time getting the sample mailed out to the lab for analysis. The longer you wait to send the sample out, the less accurate your sample will be.
- If your test results come back as 4pCi/L or higher, you need to take quick action to mitigate the radon in your home. These levels have been deemed to be unsafe by the EPA, and prolonged exposure could pose serious health consequences, such as a higher chance of developing lung cancer. Even if your results are less than this limit, you may want to consider a radon mitigation system anyway to reduce any levels of radon which are showing up in your home. No amount of radon is considered to be healthy.
By carefully following instructions, you can test your home and get a reasonably accurate estimate of whether you have a radon issue or not. If it is determined that you have unacceptable levels of radon in your home, the next step is to install a radon mitigation system. How this works is covered in our next blog post.