Radon testing can leave some questioning the absolute necessity of it all, as many other concerns of a homeowner usually arise before someone thinks of the threat of Radon. But doing so is essential to keeping your health and your family’s health a top priority. Radon is a silent, odourless, and persistent long-term health hazard to your health.
A house is a home, and by default, a safe space, so you’ll need every tool at your disposal to know when radon underneath the foundations or from outside seeps in and gets trapped in your home’s interior. To get better acquainted with the process of home radon testing, we drew upon a guide compiled by Canada. Health Canada has developed health and safety standards through the Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program (C-NRPP).
Before Conducting a Radon Test
Know Health Canada’s recommendations on radon testing residential homes, and know what unsafe levels are. Please understand that there is no safe level of radon in your home. Every level carries health risks, but readings within Health Canada’s guide are deemed lower risk.
Talk to your landlord about radon detection if you’re renting; it could be that testing hasn’t been done in some time. Nevertheless, the safety of your dwelling is paramount. Health Canada’s guide is available to everyone, but it might be helpful to send it to your landlord. You’ll also want to communicate with them about the significance of suitable home conditions for testing and steps on following the testing procedure. If your landlord refuses, it’s certainly something you can take up with courts, or better yet, the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS) before taking legal action.
Schedule time to conduct a proper radon test for at least 90 days; certain radon testing instruments require a longer minimum exposure duration to gather enough air content data. 96-hour tests are available for real-estate purposes, but for the purposes of the health and safety of your family, data is much more reliable when gathered over months rather than days.
Talk to your trusted radon testing company to determine availability for 90-day or more tests. Answer questions about the home and find out testing length recommendations.
When conducting a short-term test like the 96 hour real estate assessment, it is critical to maintain closed-air system procedures for at least 12 hours before the test’s start time and throughout its duration.
Closed-house systems imply that all windows are closed, all doors remain closed except for doors upon entrance and exit, and no fans or other machinery bringing in outside air are operating. Small exhaust fans or fans part of an approved radon-reduction system may run for brief periods.
Ensure the use of a C-NRPP-approved radon detecting instrument and follow laboratory guidelines if you do the test yourself.
You’ll have to get a list of accredited laboratories that provide a list of approved do-it-yourself test devices. You should send your test back to the place where the pre addressed envelope is directed to ensure proper processing of the test data.
If you hire someone to conduct the test, be sure they are C-NRPP-approved; inquire about their credentials and look into their reputation online.
Ask for any government-issued ID numbers they can provide to ensure legitimacy, and ask that they include their C-NRPP information on the report.
Radon Testing Preliminary Checklist
The test should contain a strategy and methods for preventing unreliable data; unreliable data could result from artificially high or low averages, perhaps caused by testing during the incorrect season or too short a measurement period. Unreliable data often boils down to the testing environment or the testing instrument itself.
Check the equipment. There could be problems with the placement, environmental exposure, the equipment itself, or user error. The testing environment might change constantly due to airflow from open doors or windows, there could be incorrect test placement, or the test could be too short. There are lots of factors making it so the test can’t be relied upon.
Ensure that your home’s ventilation system and auxiliary fans are working correctly (to replicate normal living conditions within the home). If the property has an active radon-reduction system check to ensure the system is running. If the system’s fan isn’t working correctly, get it repaired before conducting a more reliable test.
During a Radon Test
Implement closed-house conditions for the duration of a short-term test, particularly those lasting less than one week. Minimum time required for a C-NRPP certified short term test with approved devices is 96 hours.
During the test, operate the home’s HVAC systems normally.
However, ensure that air-conditioning or furnaces recycle indoor air for radon investigations lasting less than one week.
During the test, do not disrupt the test instrument in any way. C-NRPP approved devices come with anti tampering mechanisms that will register a change in temperature, pressure, and movement to improve test accuracy.
If you have a radon-reduction system, ensure it is operating correctly and efficiently throughout the radon test.
After a Radon Test:
If you do the long term test yourself, make sure to return the test instrument to the lab conducting analysis in a timely fashion. Tests shouldn’t exceed one year as they become void after 1 full year of exposure.
Make sure you fill out all the needed information, such as start and stop timings, test site, and measurement data,, so that the analysis can benefit from some context.
Interpret the results:
Your results will usually show some levels of radon present. That’s because radon is virtually everywhere. But your home’s test results could be over recommended limits, making them actionable.
Actionable radon levels are dependent on the home’s occupants and lifestyle. Homes that have young children, pets and smokers should take action at the World Health Organization’s maximum allowable levels of 100 Bq/m3. Health Canada suggests having levels as low as possible with a maximum allowable indoor level of 200 Bq/m3. If these are your results, the official recommendation is that you repair the house.
If you get a high radon test result, you should take measures to reduce indoor radon levels by installing a radon mitigation system. To decrease the radon level, contact a skilled radon mitigation professional. The long term health of your loved ones is in your hands after you learn the results.
Plan to repeat this process; ask your trusted radon detection professional when you should reschedule.
If you’re planning on selling a house just months after an unactionable long term radon test, you should consider a 96-hour real estate test right before, or in conjunction with, your potential buyer’s home inspection. If you or your potential buyer conducts a 96-hour real estate test, a radon test and mitigation system might be factored into price negotiations based on the result.
The fact remains that your acceptable levels of radon will differ depending on your risk tolerance and commitment to long term health. Regardless of what type of radon test you choose, knowing your long term average is most important. Getting proper information from a C-NRPP certified radon testing and radon mitigation professional is key to understanding the process properly. From there you can work together towards ensuring your home is as safe as possible for you and your family.