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Testing for Radon: How At-Home Radon Test Kits Serve as the Ultimate Radon Detector

5 minute read

Do you know everything you need to know about testing for radon?

Since radon is 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—regardless of location—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 radon levels in your home every so often . . . but how often exactly? What is the best radon detector to use? And how does one go about testing for radon? How accurate is an at-home radon test kit? Find the answers to these radon-related questions and more below!

Everything You Need to Know About Testing for Radon

Is using a radon detector, like an at-home radon test kit, the only way to check radon levels?

The short answer: Yes! According to the CDC, testing for radon using a radon detector 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 radon detectors, or testing routes, to explore: Passive and active tests.

A passive test is one that doesn’t need power to operate. Passive radon detectors can usually be found in your local hardware store but can also be ordered by phone and work by being exposed to your home’s air for a specific period of time to collect data. After collection, the radon detector is sent to the lab for further inspection.

An active test is one that does require power. With an active radon detector, you are able to continuously measure and record the amount of radon that’s in your air.

Protect Your Home and Test for Radon

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Are radon detectors accurate?

Like any regular test, there’s always a chance that errors can occur, like false negatives or positives. However, there are many ways to ensure accuracy and reliability while testing for radon using a radon detector, 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 radon detector monitors your radon levels for about three to seven days. Because of the length, short-term tests are usually the more common choice among homeowners. For more about at-home radon test kits, like the AprilAire Short-Term Radon Test Kit, click here.

A long-term radon detector monitors your home’s radon levels for three to 12 months. Because the levels of radon in your home are known to fluctuate, testing for radon using a long-term radon detector can account for potential changes in levels due to its longer monitoring time.

While at-home radon test kits are not necessarily inaccurate, consulting with an AprilAire Healthy Air Professional before testing for radon can help your radon detector yield more accurate results. Why exactly? Keep reading to find out!

Which method of testing for radon is recommended: Call a Pro or conduct an at-home radon test kit?

Whether you decide to use an at-home radon test kit or call a Pro is completely up to you!

If you suspect there’s a radon problem in your home for any reason, testing for radon with a radon detector, like an at-home radon test kit, before calling in a Pro is recommended to see what results you discover.

If a past radon detector has shown a current radon problem in your home (but are not sure to what extent) or if you plan to buy a new home or sell an older one, testing for radon by calling a Pro is the recommended route. A Pro’s radon detector can give you the peace of mind you’re looking for and help you begin solving your radon problem.

What’s the best way to use an at-home radon test kit?

Testing for radon with a radon detector, like an a- home radon test kit, is simple! Review this checklist from the EPA prior to testing for important recommendations, including:

  • Ensuring all windows and outside doors are closed at least 12 hours prior to testing for radon
  • Placing a radon detector 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 for radon during any major weather events or storms

Even if you decide to reach out to a Pro for help testing for radon, this EPA checklist can offer you important guidance to help ensure their radon detector results are accurate! Hiring a Pro can be beneficial since their radon detectors can provide independent testing results, and these experts can further educate you on properly testing for radon—just in case you decide to try an at-home radon test kit in the future.

How to decipher radon detector results: What do homeowners need to know about their levels?

Testing for radon using a radon detector can help you conclude whether or not the radon level in your home is hazardous. Typically, radon detectors measure your levels using 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!

A radon detector reading of 4 pCi/L or higher is considered hazardous. Even if an at-home radon test kit reads less than 4 pCi/L, your home’s radon levels can still pose a health risk to those living in your home.

Just like testing for radon, reducing your level of radon below 4 pCi/L is not only necessary, but easy. Most radon 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 pCi/L. Regardless, remediation can help reduce your home’s radon levels and help you create a Healthy Home environment once more.

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How often is testing for radon necessary?

As radon levels in the home can fluctuate, the EPA recommends testing for radon every two years, but for optimal protection, we recommend testing for radon using a radon detector, or at-home radon test kit, at least once per year to keep your levels low.

The Importance of Testing for Radon Yearly

Radon can be hazardous to your home and health. Luckily, discovering you have a problem with the use of a radon detector—as well as fixing it with mitigation solutions—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. Contact an AprilAire Healthy Air Professional in your area to learn about how the air in your home could be impacting your health and what you can do to fight back.

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