Your Guide to Radon Test Kits

The dangers of radon can’t be understated. Radon is present in every house, no matter how old or what kind of architecture it has. It’s the end product of uranium decay in water, rock, and soil. Once it seeps to the surface, the gas is diluted substantially as it mixes with fresh air and blows away. However, in confined places, this gas can accumulate to high levels and pose a significant risk to your household’s health. You won’t be able to notice it naturally because it is invisible, tasteless, colourless, and odourless. Proper testing using specialized equipment is the only way to find out if you have unsafe amounts.

People are catching on to the necessity of testing every home. You can either buy a DIY radon test kit or hire a Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program certified professional to test your house. Long-term DIY radon test kits are approved by the C-NRPP and provide accurate results with careful lab analysis.

Radon Testing & Test Kit Readings

Concentrated radon gas levels are exceedingly high in some parts of the world, with parts of Poland and Western Canadian prairie provinces taking the top two spots for excessive radon readings in homes. If you really want an accurate, precise, and reliable reading of your home’s radon levels, a proper radon test kit and sufficient time are absolutely necessary.

Anywhere your single-family residential property sits on a concrete slab – such as the basement or first floor – might be the inlet for this carcinogenic gas, ultimately resulting in excessive radon gas levels in the home. This is especially true in areas close to foundation fractures, sump pumps, and crawl spaces.

You should definitely avoid testing these spaces, though. The most accurate palace for measurement is where you spend 4 or more hours per day. The benefit of hiring a certified radon professional is that you won’t have to guess which spots are the most crucial testing locations; professionals have the experience and certifications to make the best decisions on where to gather data. Purchasing your testing device through a C-NRPP certified company can also give you the added bonus of receiving specific instructions from them as well as follow up on high results should that happen to be your circumstance.

If your radon test results indicate gas levels beyond the 200 Bq/m3 guideline set by Canadian authorities, then you must consider radon mitigation services. If less than 100 Bq/m3, you might want to keep monitoring in case anything changes; radon levels aren’t static, and you’ll want to know when radon moves from acceptable to actionable levels, those in excess of standards set by official health experts. Levels between 100 Bq/m3 (the WHO action level) and 200 Bq/m3 (The Health Canada maximum level) are at the discretion of the homeowner. Those with young children or with preexisting conditions should choose to act at a lower threshold.

How To Use Radon Test Kits

A DIY test kit can do the trick if you are patient enough to wait a minimum 3-4 months for results. Just keep in mind to properly follow all test kit directions. Typically for the simplest kits out there:

– You need to try to emulate normal living conditions, i.e. don’t have doors or windows constantly open as fresh air dilutes Radon levels.

– Place the radon detector at the lowest habitable part of your home, and do not disturb it for at least 90 days, though 1 year is many times more accurate and worthwhile.

– Ship the detector to the lab as the kit’s instructions require; the lab will process and evaluate the measurements and forward you the results.

What’s In a Radon Test Kit?

Test kits for measuring the presence of radon gas in a home can be affordable and simple to use. They typically come in a box with a radon sampler, a user manual, test instructions, a test information form, and a package you put the sampler in for shipping to the processing lab they come from after testing.

The most basic Radon testing device is the long-term test kit; inside is just a piece of bulletproof plastic that comes in a sealed container. Once you set up the kit, the radon decay products cause microscopic dents in the plastic (think of what that does to your lungs!); it’s then shipped to the lab for processing. But more sophisticated radon testing devices have many more components.


Where Do You Get Radon Test Kits?

You can get radon test kits online or through hardware stores and home centres for about $45 to over $300 – depending on features and smart home compatibility. The downside to buying from a big box store is no quality assurance or support in the process.

If you use DIY radon test kits, follow the manufacturer’s instructions properly. You can also get further help by educating yourself with a Radon Long-Term Test Instructions infographic. However, it’s highly recommended to get in touch with a local radon specialist to help you handle the process certifiably from start to finish, especially for your home’s documentation in case you seek to sell your home one day.

Are Radon Test Kits Smart Home Automated?

With radon test waiting time and lab fees increasing gradually, smart radon testing devices are being offered up as solutions. These high-tech options use Bluetooth and related technology to link up with other smart devices in your home, interfacing through proprietary phone apps to deliver accurate and precise results. Some also feature LED light indicators that glow in different ways to signal different gas levels. Data analysis can really benefit from automated test equipment, but the cost is typically higher. This higher price tag is mostly for the convenience of knowing the Radon levels in your home (short-term average) within days instead of waiting 4-5 months.

Every home contains some levels of radon gas, but it’s worthwhile to know that the gas is most hazardous at high concentrations. Performing the initial short-term radon check might help to know if there are critical levels in the home, but the truth is, you should definitely choose long-term testing so that the data is more reliable. Using DIY radon test kits can deliver accurate results, and with smart devices, you don’t even need to mail samples to a lab for processing and evaluation. In the event that high radon levels are detected in your home, don’t be alarmed; it can be mitigated at a reasonable price.