If you are buying or selling a home or you’ve never had your home tested for radon, getting a professional Radon Test can protect you and your family from serious health issues. Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas, and because of its nature, it’s in virtually every home in the U.S. and nearly impossible to detect without the proper equipment.

While most homes in the U.S. have some level of radon, nearly 1 in every 15 homes, that’s at least one per neighborhood on average, have higher than safe levels of radon. Prolonged exposure can have devasting health effects including aggravated asthma symptoms, increased respiratory infections, and lung cancer.

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers, and the second leading cause of all lung cancers cases. Unfortunately, radon is not predictable, but it is preventable! The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends you test your home for radon at least once every two years.

Just because your home was safe from radon in the past, doesn’t mean it’s safe from radon now. Changing temperatures, climate, and weather can all affect radon levels.

In this article, we’ll talk all about radon, including what it is, what to expect with a Radon Test, and how to reduce high levels of this hazardous gas. Let’s dive in!

What is Radon?

What is Radon

Radon is a colorless, odorless gas formed by the decay of uranium in soil and rock. Radon typically enters the home by seeping through cracks in your home’s foundation and building materials, like wood and sheetrock. Over time, radon gas can build up, leading to poor indoor air quality and health issues for you and your loved ones.

When to Conduct a Radon Test

All homeowners should test their homes for radon. Radon has been found in all 50 states and in all types of houses, so it is impossible to predict which homes are safe without conducting a proper test. Radon levels can also change over time, making frequent testing important. Homeowners should consider testing their homes for radon if they haven’t tested in more than two years, if anyone in the household is experiencing unexplained respiratory issues, or if there have been significant changes in the soil, weather, or landscape.

Home sellers should also test their home for radon when preparing to sell. This helps home sellers take proactive steps to mitigate radon and avoid unexpected delays during the home selling process. Likewise, home buyers should add a professional radon test as part of their home inspection. If the test results show elevated levels of radon, you as the buyer have options to negotiate for radon mitigation or ask the seller to adjust the sales price to cover mitigation costs before closing the deal on your new home.

As a professional home inspector, I’ve conducted many Radon Tests over the years, and I’ve seen high radon levels found in homes of all shapes, sizes, and ages. From 100-year-old Victorian homes to brand new construction homes, radon is prevalent. I urge every home buyer and homeowner to have their home for tested for radon if they haven’t done so already.

What Homes Are at a Higher Risk for Radon?

What Homes Are at a Higher Risk for Radon

While every homeowner should test their home for radon, here are a few factors that may indicate higher risk:

  • Location: Some regions are known to have higher radon levels than others. The Appalachian Mountains and Upper Midwest have higher levels, while the Southeast has lower levels. Keep in mind that low risk areas do not guarantee that your house is safe from potentially elevated radon levels.

  • Foundation Type: Older homes with dirt floors in the basement have nothing to slow the rise of radon gas from the soil. Exposed crawl spaces also allow radon to rise into living areas unchecked.

  • Foundation Damage: Radon can seep through concrete, but foundation slabs and walls with cracks make it easier for radon gas to seep in at a faster rate.

  • Other Construction Gaps: Any gap in the structure can allow radon to enter the home. Common examples are gaps around pipes and wires, construction joints where walls and floors meet, and open sump pumps.

  • Well Water: Groundwater can also contain radon. If you rely on a well, have your water quality tested regularly for contaminants, including radon.

How to Test Your Home for Radon

To get the most accurate results and gain peace of mind, have your home tested by a professional. A qualified inspector knows exactly where to place the radon device to get the best results and follow local compliance. They can also inspect your home to help identify areas where radon could be seeping in.

Short-term Radon Test Kit

Short-term Radon Test Kit

While we recommend hiring a professional to conduct your Radon Test, you can buy a Short-Term DIY Radon Test kit at a local hardware store or home improvement center. While these home radon test kits may seem like a more cost-effective option, they are not as accurate as radon tests conducted by professionals. Not only is professional testing equipment better, but placing the equipment in the home appropriately is also important. Each home is uniquely designed, and local and state regulations have set standards on how to effectively place the equipment to ensure accurate results. When conducting a DIY test, you run the risk of a faulty test and don’t have assistance reading the results or determining next steps for mitigation.

Continuous Radon Tests

Continuous Radon Tests

Continuous radon tests are conducted using monitors that run continuously to measure the concentration of radon over an extended period of time, typically 48 hours. Professional inspectors will place the device(s) in the home strategically to capture accurate results. The device will monitor radon levels in the home over two days, attempting to reduce or eliminate interference or “measurement noise” that can result in false results. After two days, the device is collected, and a report is drawn up with the results. It’s important that during these two days, the monitor is not touched or tampered with.

Home inspection companies, like WIN Home Inspection, who offer one-stop shopping can conduct both air and water radon tests for you along with a full home inspection and other essential services. This provides you with a complete picture of your home.

Long-Term Radon Tests

Long-term Radon Test Kit

Long-term tests tend to be more accurate than short-term ones because they use alpha particle tracking to determine radon levels. These tests collect radon gas for three months to a year. This test is mostly recommended for homes located in high-risk regions.

A professional continuous radon test offers the benefits of quick results while still providing a high degree of accuracy. This test is a great option for homeowners, buyers and sellers concerned about the radon levels in their home and want to avoid potential long-term exposure.

Understanding Your Radon Test Results

Understanding Your Radon Test Results

Radon is measured in picoCuries per liter (pCi/L). Though no level of radon is considered safe, the EPA has established guidelines for acceptable levels. If your test results show radon levels at

  • 4 pCi/L or higher, you should take radon abatement and mitigation measures to reduce the amount of gas in your home and lower your risk for radon-related lung cancer.

  • Between 2 and 4 pCi/L, action may not be immediately necessary, but you should still consider taking some precautionary steps to lower the radon levels.

It’s important to take your radon results seriously and act quickly. While getting test results showing high levels of radon can seem scary, I assure you that it can be easily mitigated. You can have a radon mitigation system installed, which will help reduce the amount of radon in your home. You can also help prevent radon from entering your home by sealing cracks and gaps in the foundation. Finally, test for radon often to ensure your home remains a safe haven for your family.

Radon Mitigation

If radon is identified in your home, you should take immediate steps to reduce radon levels. On average, radon mitigation costs can range between $800 and $1,500, depending on your home’s floorplan, size, foundation type, construction quality, and location. A radon mitigation system is the best way to reduce radon levels in your home because it uses pipes and fans to remove the gas from beneath the foundation before it can enter your home.

How to Reduce Radon and When to Take Action

If your home has radon levels above 4 pCi/L, you need to take action against radon. Here’s a few steps you can take to mitigate and reduce radon levels in your home:

  • Seal cracks in walls and floors using plaster or caulk
  • Install a radon mitigation system
  • Increase air flow by opening windows and using fans to help circulate the air
  • Install a water filtration system that removes radon from water

Use radon-resistant construction materials when completing a home renovation project

Radon Risk Factors and Health Issues

Radon Risk Factors and Health Issues

Radon is a known carcinogen, or substance that can cause cancer with prolonged exposure. In fact, the EPA has found that radon causes between 15,000 and 22,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. Moreover, radon is present in roughly 20%-30% of asthma cases triggered by environmental factors at home.

Because it can take years for radon symptoms to come to light, detecting radon early can protect you and your family from developing devastating health issues in the future.

Radon is a serious issue in many homes and can lead to major health problems. If you are unsure about the radon levels in your home, getting a Radon Test by a professional can help protect you and your family from its deadly consequences.

At WIN, we’re here to not only help you protect your most valuable investment, but the well-being of you and your family. I’ve heard almost every excuse in the book about why someone doesn’t want to get a Radon Test – it’s expensive, it’s inconvenient, my home’s fine… - but I’m here to tell you that knowledge is power and knowing if your home has radon is worth it. I’ve been fortunate enough to also hear some amazing, and frankly, life-saving stories of clients who had their homes tested for radon and have been so thankful that they were able to take action and protect their families.

To learn more about radon and radon testing, click here to find your local WIN home inspector. You can also give us a call at (800) 309-6753 or email us at inquiry@wini.com and one of our experts will contact you shortly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where does radon come from?

Radon is naturally occurring and releases as a gas when the uranium in soil and rock decays.

Should I buy a house with a radon mitigation system?

A radon mitigation system is an effective way to immediately reduce and keep radon levels at bay. If a home already has a radon mitigation system installed, it could mean that the home has previously had a high level of radon or is in an area where radon is more concentrated. Either way, having this system installed is a great way to protect you and your family against future radon exposure.

How can I get rid of radon?

To get rid of radon, you should seal cracks and gaps with caulk, ventilate the home, and install a radon mitigation system.

How much is a radon mitigation system?

On average, radon mitigation systems can cost anywhere from $800 to $1,500, but it depends on the home’s floor plan, size, and other factors.

What are considered safe radon levels?

While all levels of radon pose a risk, action should be taken if levels read higher than 4 pCi/L.

How long does a Radon Test take?

The time it takes to complete a Radon Test depends on the type of equipment used and the size of the house, however, the most popular Radon Test uses a continuous radon monitor, which runs for two days.

How can radon exposure affect children’s health?

Exposure to radon can significantly harm children’s lung health, as they are more sensitive, causing developmental issues, asthma, and respiratory infections.

Is radon testing really necessary?

Yes. If your home has never been tested for radon, any members of your family are experiencing unexplained respiratory issues, or conditions related to the soil or climate have changed significantly, you should have your home tested for radon right away.

How much does a Radon Test cost?

The cost of a Radon Test varies by location, the type of test you need, and the size of your home, among other factors, but typically ranges between $150-$300 on average.

How accurate are two-day Radon Tests?

Two-day Radon Tests are reliable and give accurate radon level readings as long as the device was not tampered with.

How often should you test for radon?

You should get a radon test at least once every two years, as recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Should I get a Radon Test with a home inspection?

To help detect radon early and protect your future investment, it’s highly recommended to get a Radon Test with your home inspection, especially if you are moving to an area of the U.S. where radon levels are naturally higher.

How does a Radon Test work?

The most common Radon Test uses a continuous radon monitor that is strategically placed in the home and runs for two days, continuously collecting air samples. After the two-day monitoring period, the results are ready, and the inspector will come back to collect the device and share information with you about your home’s radon levels as well as recommendations for mitigation, if needed.

What can cause a false positive Radon Test?

Radon Tests are rarely inaccurate, unless the device was tampered with, or conditions of the home skewed the results. Open windows, ceiling fans, and exhaust fans can cause readings to be inaccurate, so it’s important for homeowners to follow the instructions left by the inspector.