You can’t see radon, but it’s not hard to find out if you have a radon problem in your home. As an inspector, you can help perform this important service. Adding radon testing as an ancillary service is one of the easiest and quickest ways for a home inspector to make more money. A lot of real estate transactions will include a radon test as part of the inspection contingency. So why not add $100 or more in additional revenue to the inspection?
The amount of radon in the air is measured in “picocuries per liter of air,” or “pCi/L.” There are many kinds of low-cost “do-it-yourself” radon test kits you can get through the mail and in some hardware stores and other retail outlets. One of the best short-term radon testing kits I have found from my experience and have used for years is from RTCA.
If you are in a state that requires a license or certification to perform a radon test, call AHIT, as we offer a Radon Certification Course that is approved in all states. Keep in mind some states require live classroom training, which AHIT can also help you with. You may also live in a state that doesn’t have any requirements so going above and beyond to become professional demonstrates expertise.
The quickest way to test is with short-term tests. Short-term tests remain in your home for two days to 90 days, depending on the device. “Charcoal canisters,” “alpha track,” “electret ion chamber,” “continuous monitors,” and “charcoal liquid scintillation” detectors are some of the most commonly used types for short-term testing. Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, a short-term test is less likely than a long-term test to tell you the year-round average radon level. If you need results quickly, however, I recommend that you conduct a short-term test followed by a second short-term test to decide whether to fix the home.
EPA recommends the following testing steps:
Step 1: Take a short-term test.
Step 2: If your result is 4 pCi/L or higher, follow up with either a long-term test or a second short-term test (for real estate transactions this will be another short-term test)
Step 3: If you followed up with a second short-term test, the higher your short-term results, the more certain you can be that you should take measures to reduce levels in your home. It is strongly recommended that you consider fixing your home if the average of your first and second test is 4 pCi/L or higher.
How to use a test kit:
Follow the instructions that come with your test kit. If you are doing a short-term test, close the windows and outside doors and have them remain closed as much as possible during the test. Heating and air-conditioning system fans that re-circulate air may be operated. Do not operate fans or other machines, which bring in air from outside. Fans that are part of a radon-reduction system or small exhaust fans operating only for short periods of time may run during the test. If you are doing a short-term test lasting just 2 or 3 days, be sure to close your windows and outside doors at least 12 hours before beginning the test. You should not conduct short-term tests lasting just 2 or 3 days during unusually severe storms or periods of unusually high winds. The test kit should be placed in the lowest lived-in level of the home (for example, the basement if it is frequently used, otherwise the first floor). It should be put in a room that is used regularly (like a living room, playroom, den or bedroom) but not your kitchen or bathroom. Place the kit at least 20 inches above the floor in a location where it won’t be disturbed – away from drafts, high heat, high humidity, and exterior walls. Leave the kit in place for as long as the package says. Once you’ve finished the test, reseal the package and send it to the lab specified on the package right away for analysis. You should receive your test results within a few days depending on the lab.
Content provided by EPA.GOV and AHIT