Radon is everywhere, yet many homeowners don’t know of the hazardous, radioactive substance until they’re in danger. Every home has an average radon level, but when it builds up, it poses a significant health problem.
Right behind smoking, high radon levels are the leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. You can’t see, smell, or taste it. So, how do you know it’s around?
Professional home inspectors use specialized methods to detect radon’s presence in a home and how it’s affected by the surrounding environment. While every home has a standard radon level, it’s important that you bring in an expert to test often so you know what you’re dealing with.
Become familiar with a few essential factors of the radon testing process to learn how home inspectors keep you healthy and safe. You can gather a complete understanding of radon testing in three steps:
- Know what radon is and how it’s harmful to you and your family.
- Find out how radon infiltrates your home.
- Discover the methods home inspectors use when conducting radon tests in your home.
Read ahead and explore three strategies to bolster your radon knowledge-- including how to detect an abnormal radon presence in your home and what to do once it’s there. By the time you’ve completed this crash course in radon testing, you’ll feel confident finding a quality home inspector who will explain your unique results and develop an action plan with you.
What is Radon and How Does it Hurt You?
Radon is a hazardous, cancerous gas you’re unable to see, smell, or taste. If you breathe in enough of the gas, its radioactive properties will harm your lungs. Radon gas breaks down in unstable ways, sending powerfully charged, radioactive particles into your lung cells.
The outcome? An increased risk of lung cancer. Most people don’t know they should conduct regular radon testing in their current home, and again if you choose to sell or buy a new home.
How Radon Creeps Into Your Home
Radon’s toxic gas comes from a naturally occurring environmental process where uranium decomposes from soil, rock, water, and air. Radon commonly creeps into your home through foundational crevices and cracks, soil-exposed crawl spaces, openings surrounding your electrical outlets, and basements.
According to a homeowner’s guide released by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, nearly 1 in 15 homes have an elevated radon level. Because radon naturally exists in the environment, the possibility of an unsafe home level is a real problem that only radon testing and proper mitigation can solve.
Even if you think your newer home is sealed and immune to a radon problem, you shouldn’t rely on any state, local, or neighborhood testing levels to determine your own levels. Radon builds up indoors, so each home’s test reading will be unique.
In, “What Does Radon Testing Involve?” homeowners are warned that radon-releasing construction materials (like granite, concrete, and brick) are all used during home builds. Proper and regular radon testing is a high-priority task when you are buying or selling a home.
Radon Testing Methods Home Inspectors Frequently Use
Home inspectors conduct two types of radon tests: short-term and long-term. Short-term tests are a quick way to determine initial radon levels. They run for a minimum of two days to get an accurate reading.
Long-term tests run over the course of several months to provide a year-round average reading. Humidity, ventilation, and homeowner behavioral patterns are all critical points home inspectors consider to give you a correct result.
If you’re worried about radon testing, find a qualified home inspector to run the test for you. Professional home inspectors will recommend the most suitable testing methods for your home and explain how to maintain optimal conditions during the radon test. They’ll also analyze, explain, and report the data for you.
Try not to go more than two years without radon testing your home and avoid doing it yourself. There are many anti-interference testing methods a qualified home inspector will suggest to ensure you get the best results. Keeping your home in good condition and your family safe starts with recognizing and understanding hazardous environmental conditions.