Do you know everything you need to know about radon? While you may have checked out our previous article, you may not know everything about testing for radon. Since radon is known to be odorless and colorless, it can be difficult to tell if your home’s air contains radon just by looking or smelling for it. And, while some people report experiencing exposure-related health symptoms as a result of radon in the home (like worsening cough or hoarseness), radon can often float in your air undetected for long periods of time. With 1 in 15 homes recording high levels of radon, this is not just another concern to sweep under your rug.
Whether you’re a new homeowner or a long-time resident, it’s important to check up on the radon levels in your home every so often…but how often exactly? And how do you even test for radon? Are these tests even accurate? Find the answers to these radon-related questions and more below!
Test Your Radon Knowledge
Is Testing the Only Way to Check for Radon?
The short answer: Yes! According to the CDC, testing is the only true way to know if your home has a radon problem. If you suspect you have a radon problem, there are two types of testing routes that you can explore: Passive and active tests.
- A passive test is one that doesn’t need power to operate. These tests can usually be found in your local hardware store but can also be ordered by phone. Passive testing devices work by being exposed to your home’s air for a specific period of time to collect data. After collection, the testing device is sent to the lab for further inspection.
- An active test is one that does require power. With an active test, you are able to continuously measure and record the amount of radon that’s in your air.
Are Radon Tests Accurate and Reliable?
Like any test, there’s always a chance that errors can occur, like false negatives or positives. But there are many ways to ensure accuracy and reliability while testing your home for radon, including considering the duration of your test.
Both active and passive tests are available in the following testing lengths: Short-term and long-term.
- A short-term test monitors your radon levels for about two to seven days. Because of the length, short-term tests are usually the more common choice among homeowners. However, since the level of radon in your home is known to fluctuate, experts suggest that if you choose to perform a short-term test, you should administer the test twice for increased accuracy.
- A long-term test is one that monitors your home’s radon levels for three to 12 months. Because the levels of radon in your home are known to fluctuate, a long-term test can account for potential changes in levels due to its longer monitoring time.
While test kits are not necessarily inaccurate, it has been proven that results from a professional will always be more accurate than an at-home DIY test. Why exactly? Keep reading to find out!
Should I Call a Pro or Purchase a DIY Testing Kit?
Doing it yourself or choosing to call in a pro is completely up to you! If you suspect there’s a radon problem in your home for any reason, use a DIY test first to see what results you discover. If you know your home already has a problem (and are not sure to what extent) or are planning to buy a new home or sell an older one, calling a professional is the recommended route. Not only can a pro’s test be more accurate, as we mentioned above, but it’ll also give you the peace of mind you’re looking for.
If you’re planning to use a DIY test, review this checklist from the EPA prior to testing. Some key steps the EPA recommends taking prior to using an at-home, short-term radon test include:
- Ensuring all windows and outside doors are closed at least 12 hours prior to testing
- Placing the device at least 20 inches above the floor, away from drafts, heat, humidity, and exterior walls and on the lowest livable level of your home
- Avoiding testing during any major weather events or storms
If you’re planning to hire a professional to come test for radon, the EPA has a checklist for you too! Hiring a pro can be beneficial since they can provide an independent testing result. Plus, they can further educate you on the best ways to perform a radon test—just in case you plan to use a DIY test in the future.
What Level of Radon is Considered Hazardous?
The results of your radon test can help you conclude whether or not the radon level in your home is hazardous. Radon levels are typically measured by pCi/L or picocuries per liter of air. A ‘picocurie’ is a measure of the rate of radioactive decay of radon, with the suffix ‘curie’ meaning unit of radioactivity. For scaling purposes, a picocurie is measured as one trillionth of a curie, making a picocurie almost six times smaller than the thickness of human hair!
Having a radon reading of 4 pCi/L or higher is considered hazardous. Even if your test reads less than 4, it can still pose a health risk to those living in your home. Reducing your level of radon below 4 pCi/L is not only necessary, but it’s easy, too. Most remediation options promise to reduce your home’s level to 2 pCi/L or lower, although it isn’t too common to get below 2. Regardless, remediation can help reduce your home’s radon levels and help you create a Healthy Home environment once more.
How Often Should You Test for Radon?
Since we know that radon levels can continue to fluctuate, the EPA recommends homeowners test their home’s radon levels every two years.
Radon can be hazardous to your home and health. Luckily, discovering you have a problem—as well as fixing it—is easy! No matter where you live, it’s important to prioritize the health of your home and family. Even if your home doesn’t have a radon problem, there could still be other pollutants lingering inside your home and in turn, impacting your Indoor Air Quality.
With Healthy Air solutions from Aprilaire, you can keep your family breathing easy and protect them from other common airborne contaminants, like dust, viruses, and more, which can be dirtying the air in your home. Find a Healthy Air Professional in your area to learn about how the air in your home could be impacting your health and learn more about what you can do to fight back.