Radon Testing: What To Know

Radon tests have become common when purchasing a home. Here at Castle Home Inspection, we offer radon tests as an additional service to our home inspections. Having been called everything from the silent killer to the scammy up-sell, let’s dig into what radon is all about and find out.

What’s The Story With Radon?
Per the EPA website, radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. Radon gas is inert, colorless, and odorless. As uranium in the ground soil breaks down, it releases radon gas as a byproduct. Outside, there are usually always trace levels of radon gas present but aren’t a health concern as it disperses quickly. Your house, however, is a very different story. Radon gas produced in the ground soil under and around your home (basement, crawlspace, etc.) can become trapped and accumulate in high levels in living spaces. When breathed in, radon may cause lung cancer.

The Test
Radon tests are conducted inside the home using calibrated radon measuring monitors. These monitors are placed in appropriate locations by a state-certified technician (all Castle Home Inspection Radon techs are state certified). The measurement technician will also ensure that the proper testing protocol is followed. After 48hrs of hourly measurements, the results are collected and downloaded by the technician. A report is generated detailing the results of the test. The final result number is an average of the hourly readings. In the state of Illinois the the “Action Level”, or, the level that mitigation should occur at, is 4.0 pCi/L. If the test result is between 3.0-4.0 pCi/L it is recommended to continue to monitor levels regularly. Results under 3.0 pCi/L typically aren’t mitigated.

How Is Radon Mitigated
There are two common types of systems used for mitigating radon: passive and active systems. These systems are similar except for a fan component. In both systems cracks and other possible radon entry points are sealed while a PVC pipe is installed into the slab that allows a path of egress for radon gas. This set up is a passive system. An active system adds a powered fan that creates negative air pressure that actively pulls radon out of the home. In new construction, it is becoming more common to find passive systems installed that can be later equipped with a powered fan should high levels of radon in the home be found. Installing radon mitigations systems may be an expensive cost. Before purchasing a home having information about radon levels will allow you to make an informed decision and possibly give you more info for negotiating mitigation costs.

The only way to know for sure what your radon levels are is to have your home tested. If you need a radon test as part of your inspection or even after you’ve moved in, let us know!

Remember, when in doubt, reach out to a contractor for help!

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