Your home should be the safest place that you could ever be, but is it safe at all?
According to the American Lung Association, a silent threat in the form of radon gas lingers in the atmosphere.
Approximately one out of fifteen homes in the USA are at risk.
To find out whether your home is safe from this dangerous gas, you need to test its levels in the atmosphere.
Keep reading to find out exactly why, when, and how often should you test for radon.
Where Does Radon Come From?
Radon is a colorless, odorless gas produced by the natural decay of radium and uranium found in the soil.
Since soil is porous, the gas escapes from it and mixes in the air.
Cracks in concrete slabs, floor-wall joints, and untreated crawl spaces provide radon pathways to enter your home.
Also, air pressure differences play a role in bringing radon into your house.
The air in your house usually has a lower pressure as compared to the air outside.
The lower(negative) pressure acts like a vacuum and pulls in air from the outside through open doors and windows.
Radon levels are low outdoors, but it can accumulate to reach high levels inside your home.
A radon level above or equal to 4 pCi/L is dangerous and requires immediate action.
How Often Should You Test for Radon
Testing for radon once in a blue moon isn’t enough because radon levels fluctuate over time.
So how often should you test for radon? The answer can be a bit complicated.
For your ease, the US Environmental Protection Agency( EPA) recommends testing your home every two years.
Factors Affecting How Often Should You Have Radon Check
The following are a few conditions that make it an absolute necessity to test radon levels in addition to the regular two-year routine.
- Change of Seasons
If you took a radon test in spring, you need to retake the test in winter.
Temperature and air pressure changes during each season can affect radon concentration in your home.
We tend to keep doors and windows closed in winter, which does not let radon escape.
The sealed home, therefore, shows a higher reading when tested for radon.
Conversely, you may get a low reading in summer. The open doors and windows can falsify your readings.
So how often to test for radon to check the seasonal variation?
If your house is tested clear in spring, take the next test in fall or winter.
Testing in alternating seasons will help you confirm your results.
Doing so will also give you a better picture of radon levels in your house throughout the year.
- Home Renovation
Painting your bedroom wall will not affect the radon levels in your house.
However, if you are remodeling your basement, adding new windows, or replacing your roof, you need to take a radon test.
Making significant structural changes to your house can affect its ventilation and the soil beneath.
These changes can provide new pathways for radon to enter your house.
As such, before you make a move, it is crucial to take a radon test.
If the test detects high levels of the gas, you can use radon-resistant techniques.
Otherwise, you would be wasting both time and money remodeling it all over again.
After renovating, retesting can help you see if the techniques are working or not.
If your house tested clear before, taking a radon test can help you detect if the gas is entering your home due to the modifications.
The benefits are twofold in testing your house for radon before and after renovating it.
- Changes in Your Living Style
If you’re shifting your bedroom or the sitting room to the basement, you need to test it first for radon.
Your basement has higher levels of radon as compared to other floors for two reasons.
Firstly, most of your basement walls are in contact with the soil, giving radon easy access inside.
It can make its way through cracks and pores in the mortar joints and sump basins.
Secondly, the stack effect pushes warm air into the top portions of the house.
It then pulls in cooler air from the bottom, specifically the soil around the basement.
Thus, you must test for radon levels in your basement, even if your house tested clear on the upper floors.
- Selling or Purchasing a House
Before you put your house on the market, it is necessary to conduct a radon test.
Similarly, when looking for a new house, it’s essential to ask the seller to get the new radon test done by a qualified radon professional.
How Long Is a Radon Test Good For?
Radon levels fluctuate daily and vary from room to room.
That is by placing one detector in the bedroom and the other in the sitting room.
Long term monitoring averages out short term fluctuations and is the best way to record the average annual radon concentration in your home.
You can either hire a professional radon contractor to conduct the test or do it yourself.
Is a 48 Hour Radon Test Accurate?
The results of a short-term radon test are inaccurate 99 percent of the time.
Since radon levels tend to fluctuate between extremes within a day, you may end up wasting your money on a radon mitigation system with a high reading.
However, in reality, the average radon level in your house may be relatively low, requiring no action at all.
For this reason, 48-hour radon tests are only useful for screening purposes.
The Bottom Line
The answer to how often to test for radon is different for every home and situation.
Radon is a silent killer and can put you and your family at a serious health risk.
If you haven’t tested your home for radon until now, we recommend taking one as soon as possible.