Have you heard about issues with radon in Northern Colorado?
When you move into a new home, you want to make sure your space is free from toxins and is overall safe for your family to live in. You’ve double-checked your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, but don’t forget about another potential threat. Chances are, you’ve probably heard of radon. Like carbon monoxide, radon gas is colorless and odorless. In small quantities, the gas is harmless. However, in large doses, radon can cause serious health problems. Read on to learn about this lesser-known toxic gas and how you can protect your home and family.
What is Radon?
Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas. Radon is present in our atmosphere in small amounts and is not a health issue when we are outside. However, exposure can cause lung cancer and other health issues when radon gas becomes trapped indoors.
Radon in our soil can move up through the ground and leak through foundational cracks or holes. It can also enter a home through well water. Radon is not a hazard you should take lightly. In fact, radon exposure is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. On the plus side, indoor radon can be easily detected and controlled with basic testing and safety measures.
Testing for Radon
According to the EPA, nearly one in 15 homes in the U.S. has an elevated radon level of 4 pCi/L. Any home can have a radon problem, even if you don’t have a basement. Testing is the only way to determine radon levels in your home.
Luckily, radon testing is easy. It’s essential to test at least the first two levels of your home. You can hire a professional in your area to test your home or order a kit online. If your radon levels are high, contact a certified radon service professional right away to provide mitigation for your home. EPA guidance suggests mitigation if levels are above four picocuries/liter.
Types of Testing Devices
When it comes to radon testing, you can hire a professional or purchase at-home tests and do the work yourself. Here are a few terms you need to know so you can decide what option is best for you:
Passive devices don’t require power. These tests are exposed to the air in your home for a certain amount of time and then sent to a lab for analysis. Options include:
- Charcoal canisters
- Alpha-track detectors
- Charcoal liquid scintillation devices
- Electret ion chamber devices
Passive radon detecting devices are often cheaper but provide less complete results.
Active devices require power and measure and record the amount of radon or its decay products in the air. Most also provide a report that indicates if there are any swings in radon levels during the test period and include anti-interference features. These active devices cost more than passive ones, but the extra cost is worth it if you’re self-testing your home.
Short-term testing lasts anywhere from 48 hours to 90 days. Potential buyers typically request this type of testing before closing on a home. Long-term testing records radon levels over multiple months and provides a year-round average. This type is best for determining if there are seasonal fluctuations in radon levels. States like Colorado, with significant changes in temperature and moisture, may need this type.
No matter what type of testing you conduct, it’s crucial for family members to follow directions carefully. Keep any interference to a minimum so you can get reliable results.
Fixing High Radon Levels
The EPA recommends fixing your home if levels are between 2 and 4 pCi/L or above. The average indoor radon level is about 1.3 pCi/L. Fortunately, you can fix most radon problems quickly and inexpensively. There are several ways to reduce radon levels, including sealing cracks or installing venting pipes and sub-slab suction. Before you make repairs, consult a radon mitigation contractor. They will determine the most appropriate system for your home.
Radon and Home Renovation
Check your radon levels before and after any major home renovation. This is especially important if you are renovating a basement or lower level of your home. Any foundational work or changes in the walls or floors of your home could open up your home to a radon leak.
Suppose your levels are high before the planned renovation. In that case, you’ll save time and money by fixing your radon problem during the process. If you have additional questions or concerns about radon testing, let me know! I want you to feel confident in the safety of your new home. Additionally, check out the official Environmental Protection Agency page for national statistics and details about radon gas.
I'm Lauren Haug! I'm a teacher-turned-real estate agent, and I teach people how to build wealth through real estate in Northern Colorado.
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