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What to Know About Residential Radon Testing

  • Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from the decay of uranium. It's odorless, colorless, and tasteless. Any radon detector will detect it because of ionization. Ionization because any radioactive substance is unstable so it starts to give off ions into the air and the detector finds that.

    Even among all deadly radioactive substances few can rival radon gas or all the dangers associated with radon.  It ranks high in toxicity (deadliness) like carbon monoxide poisoning or asbestos exposure.  You may think that living in a house would protect you from such danger, but that assumption is unfortunately incorrect.

    Here's what to know about residential radon testing:

    1. Radon is a radioactive gas that can shorten one's lifespan when exposed to it for extended periods. While radon is only dangerous in high concentrations, it’s entirely possible for it to be present at dangerous levels almost anywhere in Ohio.

    The way to find out if radon is present is by doing radon tests.  The only way to be safe is to install an effective mitigation system.

    2. DIY - If you want to find out if there is a dangerous level of radon in your home, you can find test kits at local hardware stores or online.

    However, to avoid inaccurate test results, it is probably better to find a reputable firm which has some professionals who can conduct residential radon tests on homes for a modest fee, which can become part of the total fee for mitigation.

    3. When detected, the presence of elevated radon levels should cause a homeowner to install a mitigation system that will keep concentrations from ever getting too high again by exhausting it into the atmosphere where it will be reduced to the point where there is no danger from it.

    4. Radon mitigation systems tend to involve ventilation and air exchangers.

    • Ventilation consists of installing a system that brings fresh outdoor air inside (to dilute any built-up radon) and vents it into the outside air where it is diluted until no longer dangerous.
    • Air exchangers involve use of fresh outdoor air to circulate and then be vented out into the atmosphere where any built-up radon will harmlessly be absorbed.

    5. Other possible mitigation systems include sub-membrane depressurization (which vents underfloor spaces to be released into the outdoor atmosphere) and pressurization systems (which use fans to blow fresh air through crawlspaces and foundations). These systems can help lower radon levels in homes more efficiently than ventilation and air exchangers can.

    6. When it is time to choose whether or not to hire residential radon mitigation professionals, homeowners should consider whether they can do their installation. That requires testing equipment and a knowledge of how to measure radon levels and design ways to vent the gas.

    7. However, if the homeowners feel they can do their installation, it might be more affordable to buy and install a system independently and simply do the mitigation work themselves.  BUT to be sure that the work had been effective, it might be beneficial to hire a professional. y.

    8. Homeowners can also hire professionals to conduct tests on their homes after installation to ensure that radon levels have been reduced. These post-mitigation tests can help ensure that homeowners will not endanger themselves or their loved ones when exposed to the substance. In addition, hiring a professional company might be beneficial because they can determine the best system to install.

    9. Homeowners should also be aware that there are some cases when post-mitigation tests might not be necessary or beneficial. However, they would be best served if a professional company installs a monitoring system (these are usually quite simple) to ensure that the level is not creeping up again.

    Simply taking precautions is important.  Since there are very few areas in Ohio where radon is NOT present, testing is a simple and cost-effective way to find out.  Being aware of its presence is the first step towards protecting oneself and one's family.  The options for mitigation are DIY, professional or a combination of the two.

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