You can’t see or smell radon, but it could be in the home you’re buying, selling or building, and it poses a threat to your health. Therefore, it’s important to have a home inspector or other qualified professional test the home for radon levels to determine if repairs are needed that will reduce those levels.
How can you be sure to get reliable test results? First, the testing should be done on the lowest level of the home which is regularly occupied, such as a basement, play area, or area that may be used as a workshop. It’s also important to decide how long the test should take and when it will be done. A short term test requires a minimum of 48 hours. Interference to the testing should be kept to a minimum as well.
Special equipment is needed for radon testing. Your home inspector or other qualified professional radon tester will have equipment suitable for your particular situation. The office that deals with radon issues in the state where you live should have the latest information about the best equipment and methods for testing.
There are passive and active devices for radon testing. Passive devices do not need electricity. Such devices include charcoal canisters, alpha-track detectors, charcoal liquid scintillation devices, and electret ion chamber detectors. Each device must be exposed to the air in the home for a specified period of time, depending on the device’s requirements. They’re then sent to a lab for analysis.
Passive devices can be used for short term or long term testing. They’re generally inexpensive. They may also have features to help deter interference that could adversely affect test results.
Active testing devices require electricity to function. They include continuous radon monitors and continuous working level monitors, which measure and record the amount of radon or its decay products in the air over a period of time. Many of these devices provide a report that will reveal any unusual or abnormal swings in the radon level during the test period. A qualified tester can explain this report to you.
Some of these active devices are specifically designed to deter and detect test interference. There are some technically advanced active devices that offer anti-interference features. Although these tests may cost more, they may give you a more reliable result.
How can test interference be prevented? First, use a test device that frequently records radon or decay product levels to detect unusual swings. Use a motion detector to determine whether the test device has been moved or testing conditions have changed. Use a proximity detector to reveal whether people are in the room, since that could affect the results.
It’s also a good idea to Record the barometric pressure to identify weather conditions which may have affected the test. Also, record the temperature to help determine if doors or windows were opened. Your tester may apply tamper-proof seals to windows to ensure closed house conditions.
It would be a good idea to have the home seller or occupant to sign a non-interference agreement.
Your inspector or qualified radon tester should be knowledgeable about these and any other necessary precautions to make sure your radon test results are reliable.