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Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that can leak into homes through cracks and gaps. It is produced naturally by the decay of certain types of soil and rock.
Home inspection companies often offer Radon Testing Colorado Springs as part of their full service offerings to buyers. There are a number of different types of radon testing available.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that has been linked to lung cancer. It comes from the soil and moves into the air in homes through cracks in the foundation, gaps around electrical and plumbing penetrations, or openings in walls and floors. Once in the home, radon gases are trapped and can build up to dangerous levels over time. It is important for every homeowner to test their home for radon. If a home is found to have high levels of radon, a radon mitigation system can be installed to lower the concentration.
A radon inspection involves the certified home inspector using one or more devices to assess current radon levels in the soil, air, and water. These devices are based on technology that uses electromagnetism to detect particles of radon in the air. They include electret ion detectors, alpha track detectors, and charcoal canister tests. These devices are small and easy to use. The EPA requires that all radon testing be conducted under closed-house conditions, so all windows and exterior doors are shut except for those used for normal entry and exit, and that attic fans, dehumidifiers, and kitchen and bathroom fans are not running during the duration of the test.
When a test is performed, the device is placed in the lowest livable level of the home, usually a basement, and left in place for the time instructed on the test kit. A short-term test generally takes 2 to 90 days, while a long-term test may take up to a year. It is recommended that you perform a radon test before purchasing a new home, especially if it is located in a high-risk area. The EPA provides a radon map that details radon zones by state and county.
Even a well-maintained, newer home can have an actionable radon level. Homeowners should consider radon testing any time they make changes to the living environment, including finishing or adding on to the home. Likewise, if you are thinking of selling your home, the EPA recommends adding a professional radon test to your pre-sale home inspection. This allows you to negotiate for radon abatement or adjust the sales price before closing the deal.
Why It’s Important
Radon is a dangerous gas that can enter homes and cause lung cancer. It’s important to test for it, especially if you’re considering buying or selling your home.
Luckily, radon testing is relatively inexpensive and fast. It’s also negotiable, which means either the seller or the buyer can pay for it as part of the home inspection process. Since radon is a silent, intangible risk, it’s important to get the test done as quickly as possible so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to move forward with your transaction.
The EPA estimates that radon is responsible for 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the states every year. That’s an awful lot of people. While most homeowners understand that having a thorough home inspection is crucial before purchasing a home, not everyone thinks about radon testing.
Depending on the type of test, either a professional inspector or a homeowner can conduct it. If you do the test yourself, make sure to follow all of the instructions carefully to ensure that you get an accurate reading. The home should be empty for the duration of the test, and windows should be closed. Running devices such as fans or air conditioners can also interfere with the test.
In addition to being tested during a real estate transaction, radon should be tested regularly in any home. The EPA recommends that you get your home tested once a year, or whenever there’s a major change in the living conditions of your house.
It’s important to note that the results of a radon test can vary greatly from home to home, even in homes located in the same neighborhood. This is porque the underlying geology of diferentes areas can have an impact on radon levels.
In addition, radon levels can rise and fall depending on the season, so it’s essential to do multiple tests over time. Short-term radon tests are the most common, but you can also opt for longer-term kits that measure radon for over 90 days to provide a more accurate picture of the average level in your home.
Types of Devices Used
Radon testing devices are either active or passive. Passive devices require no external power source to function and include charcoal canisters, alpha track detectors, and charcoal liquid scintillation detectors. These devices are exposed in the building for a period of time, usually for two to 90 days, and then sent to a lab for analysis.
The most common radon testing device is the charcoal canister. The canister has a charcoal filter that absorbs radon for the duration of the test. A home inspector or certified radon tester will take the canister and its contents back to the laboratory for analysis. The results will show the concentration of radon gas in parts per million (pCi/L).
Other passive devices that can be used for short-term or long-term testing include electro-ion chamber detectors and SMART meters. EICs have a passive ionization chamber that is filled with positive and negative ions that are derived from the decay of radon and its products. Radiation emitted from these particles ionizes the air within the device, and an electret sensor measures the discharge in volts over a known interval. This value, in conjunction with a duration and calibration factor, relates to the concentration of radon in parts per million.
SMART meters are similar to EICs, but they do not require a battery. They also measure humidity, which can affect the performance of some passive devices. SMART meters also monitor barometric pressure and temperature changes in the test building, which can indicate attempts to tamper with the measurement, such as opening windows or running ventilation systems.
Although grab samples can be useful in determining whether a mitigation system is needed, they are not recommended for assessing the risk of radon exposure or making decisions regarding remediation. Grab samples are collected by various devices like scintillation cells over time intervals as short as a few minutes and then sent to the laboratory for analysis. They are not designed to be tamper-proof.
When performing a short-term or long-term radon test, it is important to follow all directions on the testing kit. Generally, this includes closing all doors and windows except for those normally used for entry and exit. Other guidelines may include not operating furnaces, fireplaces, or any other ventilation systems during the test. The best option for a long-term radon test is to perform an annual average exposure test, which can be performed in addition to a shorter-term test or on its own.
Whether you hire a professional or use a do-it-yourself test kit, the cost of radon testing depends on how many tests you want and which type of equipment is used. Some companies charge a flat fee for a basic home inspection, which includes radon testing. If the house is larger or in a remote location, the company may also charge a travel fee.
Most homebuyers have heard that they should have a home inspection done before closing on the property, but many don’t realize it’s also important to have radon testing conducted as well. This way, the potential buyers will know if they’re buying a home with a radon problem and can work with the seller to negotiate.
Whether a radon test is being done as part of a home inspection or as a separate service, the test must be performed in closed-house conditions. This means that all windows and exterior doors should be shut, except for those being used for normal entry and exit. Additionally, the radon testing device should be placed at the lowest level of the building, such as the basement.
Some radon testing devices are short-term, meaning they take about two days to collect a sample of air and then send it off for analysis. This kind of test is cheaper than long-term tests, which can take up to a year to gather a sample and send it for analysis. However, short-term radon tests are not as accurate as their longer counterparts, so the result should be taken with caution. Long-term radon monitors are more expensive but offer more reliable and comprehensive results.