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Radon Testing


Quick Link Index

General Radon Information
How does Radon get into your home?
Average levels of Radon in Utah Counties
EPA identifies acceptable levels of Radon
EPA pamphlet for home sellers and buyers
Summary and discussion
Recommendations
Quick links to Appointment Request, Inspection Fees, and Contact Information
 

How Does Radon Get Into Your Home?

  • Any home may have a radon problem
  • Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Your home traps radon inside, where it can build up. Any home may have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements.
  • Radon from soil gas is the main cause of radon problems. Sometimes radon enters the home through well water. In a small number of homes, the building materials can give off radon, too. However, building materials rarely cause radon problems by themselves.
  • Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels. Elevated levels of radon gas have been found in homes in your state. Contact your state radon office for general information about radon in your area. While radon problems may be more common in some areas, any home may have a problem. The only way to know about your home is to test.
  • Radon can also be a problem in schools and workplaces. Ask your state radon office about radon problems in schools, daycare and childcare facilities, and workplaces in your area.

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Radon Testing Diagram

RADON GETS IN THROUGH:

    • Cracks in solid floors
    • Construction joints
    • Cracks in walls
    • Gaps in suspended floors
    • Gaps around service pipes
    • Cavities inside walls
    • The water supply
radon map ledger
Utah Counties With High Radon Levels

The map and the ledger above, which were generated by the EPA, shows the average readings for Radon within each county in the State of Utah 
 

The EPA states

They have designated that homeowners should be concerned if Radon is found to exceed 4pCi/L

  • You can't see radon, but it's not hard to find out if you have a radon problem in your home. All you need to do is test for radon. Testing is easy and should only take a few minutes of your time, but the test conditions must be followed precisely if results are to be valid.
  • The amount of radon in the air is measured in "picoCuries per liter of air," or "pCi/L." Sometimes test results are expressed in Working Levels (WL) rather than picoCuries per liter (pCi/L) (4 pCi/L equals to 0.016 WL). There are many kinds of low-cost "do-it-yourself" radon test kits you can get through the mail and in hardware stores and other retail outlets. For links and information, visit www.epa.gov/radon/radontest.html .

 

The EPA has published a small pamphlet entitled:
Home Buyers and Sellers Guide to Radon


In this pamphlet, they go through a detailed discussion on Radon.  There is one section I want to discuss regarding the validity and value associated with the test procedures and test results.  

I have identified certain statements out of the pamphlet for your review to help explain my concerns regarding testing for Radon.  Please read these statements carefully.   Later, I offer my recommendations.

“For reliable test results, follow this Radon Testing Checklist carefully. Testing for radon is not complicated. Improper testing may yield inaccurate results and require another test. Disturbing or interfering with the test device, or with closed-house conditions, may invalidate the test results and is illegal in some states. If the seller or qualified tester cannot confirm that all items have been completed, take another test.”

  • 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 your year-round average radon level
  • …it is important to maintain closed-house conditions for at least 12 hours before the beginning of the test and during the entire test period
  • When doing a short-term test ranging from 4-7 days, EPA recommends that closed-house conditions be maintained
  • The test should include method(s) to prevent or detect interference with testing conditions or with the testing device itself
  • Maintain closed-house conditions during the entire duration of a short-term test, especially for tests shorter than one week in length
  • Do not disturb the test device at any time during the test
  • Be sure that you or the radon tester can demonstrate or provide information to ensure that the testing conditions were not violated during the testing period
  • Close your windows and outside doors at least 12 hours before beginning the test
  • Do not conduct short-term tests lasting less than four days during severe storms or periods of high winds
  • One test followed by another test (sequential) would most likely give a better representation of the seasonal average
  • Long-term tests remain in your home for more than 90 days. Alpha track and electret ion chamber detectors are commonly used for this type of testing
  • A long-term test result is more likely to tell you your home’s year-round average radon level than a short-term test
  • If time permits (more than 90 days), long-term tests can be used to confirm initial short-term results.
  • Use a test device that frequently records radon or decay product levels to detect unusual swings
  • Employ a motion detector to determine whether the test device has been moved or if testing conditions have changed
  • Use a proximity detector to reveal the presence of people in the room which may correlate to possible changes in radon levels during the test
  • Record the barometric pressure to identify weather conditions which may have affected the test
  • Record the temperature to help assess whether doors and windows have been opened
  • Apply tamperproof seals to windows to ensure closed-house conditions
  • Have the seller/occupant sign a noninterference agreement


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SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION

  • The 11 counties of Northern Utah, where I inspect homes, none are listed to have average Radon readings above 4pCi/L according to the EPA.
     
  • According to the EPA, levels at or below 4pCi/L do not necessarily require corrective actions, and are considered acceptable levels.   Due to the numerous variables associated with a home inspector performing a short term Radon test procedure, and the variations these variables could have on the end results, I want my customers to know exactly what the results may or may not say about the presence or absence of Radon Gas.
     
  • The ability to guarantee control of the test variables requires constant monitoring, or constant vigilance of the Radon collectors and test environment.  Anything less then this causes the results to be less than 100% accurate. 

 

  • Controlling all the variables, can be done by either of two methods.  Extensive equipment can be employed to monitor and report any conditions that were not properly maintained, or a human monitor can be utilized to “baby-sit the test. 
    • The best and most precise method of controlling the test is to employ a human monitor for the duration of the test.  Some companies will charge you $2000-$3000 dollars to perform these tests, yes they control all the variables, and yes their results are excellent, and non-refutable.   But, that is a lot of money to spend with the option of finding out that the data shows readings below the EPA limits, and that no corrective action is necessary.  Additionally, the EPA recommends that if the short term test results are higher than 4pCi/L, you should perform a long term test.  By the time you spend this kind of money to identify the problem, should it even exist, you could basically have installed the necessary corrective measures to fix the problem.
    • The second method is to utilize extensive electronic monitoring equipment to monitor and report any deviation in the test protocol.  Again this can cost between $500-$1000.  Again, test results may indicate readings that would not require mitigation.  Another problem with this technique is that the monitoring equipment may show deviations in the test protocol and subsequently, the test results are invalid and would have to be repeated, again at additional test fees.
    • According to the EPA, short term test results are only indicative of Radon levels during the short term of the test, and are NOT indicative of a yearly average that may be occurring in the home.  Again, forcing a home owner to mitigate a condition that may have been a short term anomaly is not good business nor does it make good sense.  They actually recommend that if the short term test results exceed 4 pCi/L, that a second short term test be conducted to validate the actual existence of a Radon problem.  Again, repeating the test would incur an additional test fee.  Again, the cost of both tests would probably exceed the cost to install a Radon reduction system.

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MY RECOMMENDATIONS

I can make a little  money by doing Radon Testing.  It is easy, simple, and basically a no-brainer.  But, guaranteeing 100% accurate results would be simply cost prohibited, and would be clearly not what I think is in the best interest of my clients.
 

  • Performing a Valid Radon test, during an escrow time frame, and insuring 100% validity of the test results cannot be professionally guaranteed unless a personal monitor is employed during the full duration of the test, which would be unrealistically expensive, and an undue burden on the home owner.
     
  • My recommendations to the home owner is to simply purchase a test kit from someplace like Home Depot, carefully follow the instructions, maintaining all the variables necessary for accurate  readings, and submit the results for analysis.  This would be much easier as the home owner to ensure compliance to the test protocols.
     
  • If the test results exceed the EPA recommended 4pCi/L, repeat the tests a couple times, as Radon levels can vary quite a bit over time.  If the test results all equal or exceed the 4pci/L, then with sound, valid test results you can proceed to make intelligent decisions as to what your best course of action should be.
     
  • Forcing a home owner to correct a potential problem, based on potentially inaccurate test results, or loosing your dream home due to a deal breaker, goes contrary to common, logical thinking.  Conversely, providing test results that many not be accurate, and therefore masking a potential problem is also not what I think is in my clients best interest.
     
  • If you really want me to perform this test, please understand I can do a cheep test but the results cannot be 100% guaranteed,  If you want this guarantee, the test will be rather expensive, as the results I will give you will be defendable, and accurate.

 

 

If you are undecided about this test, please click the link below and call me.  Let me discuss this issue in greater detail.  I will do everything possible to help you understand what would be the best decision. 

If you need a home inspection, or other inspection services, I would be honored to perform them for you.  The links below will help you to see the applicable fees, help you set up an appointment, and a link to help you contact me should you feel the need.  You can call me or click the link and send me an E-mail.

My goal is to do what is right for my customers, and not something that would just make a few dollars at their expense.

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Dale@UtahProInspections.com

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