Homes that are next door to each other can have different indoor radon levels, so using a neighbor's test result is a poor predictor of radon risk. In addition, precipitation, barometric pressure, and other influences can cause radon levels to vary from month to month or day to day, which is why both short- and long-term tests are available.
Testing is the only way to know if a person's home has elevated radon levels. Radon levels within a building often change on a day-to-day basis. Highest indoor levels are often found during the heating season. Weather conditions, operation of furnaces and fireplaces, and opening/closing of windows and doors are among the factors that cause these patterns.
EPA recommends initial measurements of radon to be short-term tests placed in the lowest lived-in level of your home. I do carry plenty of these recommended short-term radon test kits and a standard double canister testing kit can be purchased for $95.00. These kits are the quickest and most efficient way to test for high radon levels in any home. These particular kits should remain in the home for 48 hours. If you do decide to test, I will literally show you how to properly seal the radon canisters (after 48 hours) and what you should do in order to have your canisters properly delivered to the Radon lab, which is local.
Short-term testing under closed-building conditions helps to ensure that residents quickly learn if a home contains very high levels of radon. All windows and outside doors should remain closed in this testing area. If radon test kits are placed in your prospective home, I will be leaving paperwork on site informing the Sellers to keep all windows and doors closed as much as possible while your test kits are in place. It's always to an advantage if your Realtor would notify the sellers Realtor to request that the Sellers close their windows and outside doors at least 12 hours before placing the test. I recommend that you not conduct Radon tests during unusually severe storms or periods of unusually high winds.
SHOULD YOU PURCHASE ONE CANISTER OR TWO?
Massachusetts Home Inspections recommends that you place two canisters in the home. If you decide to place a single canister and the test results do come back as dangerously high, my lab may request that you purchase two additional canisters in order to obtain a government protocol reading amongst the two of the canisters combined.
Because radon levels may fluctuate by as much as a factor of two or three Pico curies, additional testing is sometimes recommended to better assess the average radon level in your home.
LOWERING RADON LEVELS IN YOUR HOME
A variety of methods are used to reduce radon levels. In some cases, sealing cracks in basement floors and walls may help. In other cases, simple systems using pipes and fans may be used to reduce radon. Such systems are called "sub-slab depressurization," and do not require major changes to your home. These systems remove radon gas from below the concrete slab before it can enter your home. Similar systems can also be installed in houses with crawl spaces. Radon contractors may use other methods depending on the design of your home.
IF YOU PRESENTLY HAVE A MITIGATION SYSTEM INSTALLED
I personally recommend that you test for Radon levels annually to verify that your system is operating correctly. I can drop off the test kits at your residence any time of the year. Just contact me and I'll gladly fit you into my schedule to stop by and place short term test canisters in your home. Until then, I recommend that you monitor the pressure gauge that is built into the side of the Radon piping in your basement. The U-shaped vial should have two different levels of liquid in them, one high and one low. If you find that these two liquid lines are level with each other. This is a sign that the built-in fan is inoperative. I recommend that you contact the installation company immediately. There should be a contact number labeled in the vicinity the vial.
TEST BEFORE YOU RENOVATE
If you are planning to make any major structural renovations to your new home, such as converting an unfinished basement area into a living space, it is important to test the area for radon before you begin the renovation. If your test results indicate a radon problem, radon-resistant techniques can be inexpensively included as part of the renovation. Because major renovations can change the level of radon in any home, always test again after work is completed. For more information concerning radon, you should browse the EPA website at http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/citguide.html
Geographical Radon Maps
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