Has Your Home Been Tested for Radon?
What exactly is radon?
It’s an odorless, colorless gas and is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.
It can get trapped in our homes and be at such high levels that it can affect your health. And, you wouldn’t ever know it was there unless you tested for it!
Read below to learn more about radon and your home, how to test for radon in your home and how to remediate it if you have high levels.
What Is Radon?
Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium soil, rock and water. It moves up through the ground and into the air above. It can get into your home through any foundation cracks or holes. It can also enter your home through well water.
According to the EPA, nearly one in 15 homes in the U.S. has an elevated radon level of 4 pCi/L. Any type of home can have a radon problem, even those without basements.
You can contact your local jurisdictions to find out more about radon levels in your area or check out these websites at
- Colorado Radon Test Results by County 2005-2021
- Florida Health – Radon Highlights
- CDC Radon Data
- Radon Levels By State
Even if your home is in a low level zone, you should still get your home tested. You cannot predict radon levels inside your home based on the measurements of homes nearby. Homes that are next door to each other can have substantially different indoor radon levels.
Testing for Radon
Testing for radon is actually easy and not complicated. It’s important to perform the test on the lowest level of the home that could be used regularly, even if that is an unfinished basement. (Note: you would not place testing equipment in a closet, stairway, hallway, crawl space or enclosed area such as bathroom, laundry room or furnace room).
You can purchase or order online devices to test for radon, or you can hire a qualified radon tester to come to your home. Some devices may be more appropriate for your needs and testing conditions. Make sure you are getting a reliable testing device.
Many jurisdictions also offer free radon testing kits, check with your local government or health department to see if they offer these kits to residents.
The State of Florida mandates testing for radon for “State licensed, regulated, owned or operated Facilities.” More information on those facilities that must be tested for radon in Florida can be found here. Testing isn’t required by the State of Colorado, but is highly recommended.
Both Colorado and Florida have enacted licensing programs for individuals and companies performing radon testing as well as mitigation services. Make sure to check with your local licensing authority to ensure that the person administering the tests are qualified and licensed to perform this work. This is a new requirement in Colorado that went into effect July 1, 2022.
Types of testing devices:
Passive devices – Don’t require power and are exposed to the air in your home for a specified period of time and then sent to a lab for analysis. Some devices are better at resisting test interference or disturbances. Includes charcoal canisters, alpha-track detectors, charcoal liquid scintillation devices, electret ion chamber devices.
Active devices – Require power and measure and record the amount of radon or its decay products in the air. Many can provide a report and also indicate if there are any swings in radon levels during the test period. Some also have anti-interference features. These active devices cost more than the passive ones. Includes continuous radon monitors and continuous working level monitors.
Short-term testing is typically from a minimum of 48 hours to 90 days, depending on the device.
Long-term testing typically lasts more than 90 days, and will usually provide a year-round average radon level.
No matter what type of testing you conduct, it’s important for family members to follow directions carefully and to keep any interference to a minimum so you can get reliable results.
Mitigating High Radon Levels
The EPA recommends fixing your home if levels are at or above 4 pCi/L or more. The average indoor radon level is about 1.3 pCi/L. Remember that high levels of radon in your home is a health risk and a leading cause of lung cancer.
Don’t think that it’s complicated or expensive to fix any radon problems. It can be done without making major changes to your home, and the cost can be comparable to other home repairs.
High levels can be reduced several ways, including sealing cracks or installing venting pipes and fans or sub slab suction. Get estimates from radon mitigation contractors. They can determine the most appropriate system for your home.
Many nationwide homebuilders are now including radon mitigation systems in their new construction homes. Installing these systems usually costs less than fixing the home later
Radon Testing and Real Estate Transactions
Radon testing is one of the most common “add-on” inspections performed during a real estate transaction’s inspection or due diligence period. While there are a variety of testing options available for radon, in real estate transactions, the most common tests performed are short-term tests done with “active” monitors that continually measure and record levels due to the time constraints involved with contract deadlines.
For more detailed information, the EPA has published a guide for home buyers and sellers to inform consumers of the risks associated with radon, as well as testing and mitigation information.
Let me know if you have any questions about radon testing, especially if you are thinking of selling in the near future.
I'm Jenn and I love helping buyers and sellers achieve their real estate goals and find the perfect HOME for their unique situations. I also work hard to make sure my clients are educated about the process, their options and responsibilities so they can make well informed decisions before, during and after buying their home!
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