Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is created when uranium is broken down. It is radioactive and if a person is exposed long enough, can lead to lung cancer. It can be found all over the country and it is estimated that one in five homes have elevated levels of it in their homes.
While it is recommended that those looking to purchase a new home have a radon inspection done prior to closing and moving in, any homeowner can have it done at any time. Those looking to have a home tested can go about it in two different ways. He or she can purchase a do-it-yourself kit or a professional inspector can be hired.
You can purchase a radon testing kit at most home improvement stores. They are placed on the lowest living area for up to a week. Once the time is up, the kit is mailed to a lab for inspection. Once you receive the results, you can decide what your next steps will be.
If the test comes back showing high radon levels, if you are having a home inspection for purchase, or just want a professional to do the testing in your house, that is another option. It is pricier than doing it yourself, but you have the peace of mind that a certified inspector tested and read the results. Furthermore, professional radon inspectors have equipment that is designed to prevent or detect interference with either testing conditions or with the testing device itself.
Regardless of who performs the test, you or an inspector, short-term tests are done using either charcoal canisters, alpha track, electrets ion chambers, continuous monitors, or charcoal liquid scintillation. These kits are then sent to labs to be reviewed.
If a short-term test comes back positive, a professionally done repeat test can last up to 90 days. However, since radon levels change daily, it is still not completely accurate. Regardless, if both the initial and the follow-up test show levels above 4pCi/L. Measures will need to be taken in order to lower the amount of radon in the home.
A short-term solution to high levels of radon in your home is to purchase and install a ventilation system with a fan. This will send the radon outside so it is no longer built up. Once that is up and running, you will need to determine the best course of permanent action as ventilation may not be enough.
Another thing you can do to reduce the radon in the home is have a sealed sump pit installed. You can also have air traps installed in order to prevent air from coming up the drain pipe. Additionally, you may need to have your crawlspace sealed or a depressurization vent may need to be added to the slab under your house. If you have a finished basement you will probably need supplementary measures to ward off a radon build up. This is especially true if the basement and the garage share the same slab.