Radon TestingThe U.S. Surgeon General recommends radon testing for all homes in the United States
There Are Many Ways to Test Radon
Which is Best For You?
(Note: The U.S. Surgeon General recommends radon testing for all homes in the United States. If you don’t understand this need to test, please see: (text link to “Cancer and Radon”- install text link with no alignment)
Testing For Radon… there are a lot of options to consider; when and why to test; hire a professional service or do your own self test kit; where to place the test, long term or short term; accuracy and tamper resistant concerns; the potential for false positives; how difficult to do my own test and what are the costs; plus much more. On this page we will briefly cover the options and considerations for radon testing.
Following are some frequently asked questions and answers along with some text links that will take you to more in-depth discussions on some of the topics. If you can’t find the answer you need you can email me on the contact page, I would be happy to help you.
Radon Testing FAQ’s
- To hire a professional service or do it yourself? Answer: Doing your own radon test is easy, just make sure you follow directions and do some research to figure out what type of test would be best for you specific need(s), as there are many different types of radon tests some better suited for particular situations than others. If you hire a professional they can be help you determine what type of test you need, but beware many “professionals” only provide basic or short term tests and will usually only offer what the type of test for the type of monitor or test kits they have available. So even is you plan to hire a professional it might still be a good idea to do a little research on your own to figure out what type of test would work best for you and see what professionals offer that type of testing.
- What are the costs involved? Do it your self radon testing may cost nothing at all if free test kits are available up to $30 or $40 for standard test kits and laboratory analysis. Some do it yourself long term radon test kits or radon in water test kits may cost a little more. EPA Certified Radon monitors designed for homeowners can be purchased from about $130 to $300 and are very convenient way to do multiple tests in different rooms or houses and also can be used as continuous monitors with alarms, similar to a carbon monoxide gas monitor. Professional Radon test in Central NY is typically range from $125 to $175 for a single short term test.
- Where to place the radon test? The EPA has a 47 page booklet “Protocols For Radon and Radon Decay Product Measurements in the Home” which contains detailed radon testing protocols. I have summarized the basic steps below. See the link above for full protocol details.
- Place radon test the lowest livable area of the building that is used on a regular basis. (Note: Most home inspectors will test the basement level if there is a possibility of finishing the basement at some future date or if the basement could be used as an exercise area, kids play area, or work or craft area.)
- Place the radon test kit or monitor where it will not be disturbed, moved or bumped. The preferred method is to hang the pouch type radon test kit (AirChek) centrally in the room typically 6 to 8 feet above the floor, or they can be hung from a non-masonry wall as long as the pouch opening is not blocked (at least 4 inches clearance) and it is facing toward an open area of the room. String may be useful to hang the pouch type kits from the ceiling or light fixture.. Radon test canisters or radon monitors should be placed on a tripod or set on a desk or table at least 20 inches above the ground.
- Test kits or monitors should be placed at least 3 feet from exterior doors or windows.
- Test kits or monitors should be placed at least 1 f0ot from exterior wall of the building and at least 1 foot away from any interior masonry wall.
- Test kits or monitors should be placed at least 4 inches away from any other object next to or above the kit or monitor.
- Test kits or monitors should NOT be placed near drafts from heating or cooling vents on in rooms where fans are operated for the duration of the test.
- Radon test kits or monitors should not be placed in direct sunlight, near fireplaces, areas of high heat or high humidity. In general radon testing should not be conducted in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms due to high humidity and or high heat and fans or drafts. It is OK to set the test on a washer or dryer if they are not used during the test period or if the house is vacant. Likewise they can be placed on a kitchen counter if the house is vacant, or not in use.
- Representative radon measurements should NOT be made in closets, cupboards, sumps, crawl spaces, or nooks within the foundation.
- Usually one test kit or monitor is sufficient for every 2000 square feet of floor space being tested.
- If test is conducted in a damp or humid room (over 55% RH), then test only for the shortest recommended period. Moisture may reduce the sensitivity of some radon measurement devices and may invalidate the test.
- When testing for a real estate transaction two test kits are required and should be set side by side, within 12 inches for quality control.
- What’s better short term or long term Radon testing? Radon testing times are broken down into short term and long term. Short term is best if you need results fast such as in a real estate transaction. Long term testing is more accurate if you have the time.
- When is it better to do a short term radon test? If you are in a hurry. Short term test devices are usually placed in the home for at least 48 hours to 7 days for some kits. Some kits have a maximum test period of 3 or 4 days. Radon test kits once deployed are time sensitive, all kits should be sent to lab as soon as possible after the test is finished. Be sure to read instructions carefully, most laboratories will void the test if the paperwork is not filled out completely and correctly or if the radon test kit takes too long to get to them. It’s important to closely follow the test manufacturer’s instructions to ensure accurate results.
- When is it better to do a long term radon test? If you have the time, long term radon testing is more accurate. Radon levels vary in a home throughout the year so a long term test gives a more accurate picture of the radon exposure to the occupants, (as compared to short term tests which give a snap shot or rough estimate). In a long term radon test there are no closed house conditions to maintain, so the house is tested the way it is actually utilized and lived in. These tests typically range from 30 to 365 days. A year long test will give you the best overall year round average with the different seasonal use of the home accounted for. If you know you are going to sell your home conduction a year long test is more likely to have a lower average radon level than a short term test done in mid winter.
- What can go wrong with a radon test?
- What is the potential for false positive, false negative or invalid radon test results?
- What if the windows get opened during the test?
- How could I know if someone cheats on a radon test?
These are a few of the more common questions one might ask. Each of the above questions deserves it’s own detailed answer and will be covered in a separate article at a later date. Lets consider these questions in the scenarios given below. Most likely one of these will help you in choosing the best radon test ti fit your need.
Doing Your Own Radon Test
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