Archive for Monday, November 12, 2012


Fix-It Chick: Test for radon

November 12, 2012


Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas created by the decay of uranium in soil and rock. Radon enters the home through cracks and crevices in the foundation, through exposed soil and sometimes through well water.

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and the second-leading cause of lung cancer overall.

Testing for radon is easy, and the cost to mitigate excessive levels of radon is about the same as many standard home repairs.

Step 1: Purchase a short-term radon test kit from your local hardware store or building center. Short-term kits absorb potential radon gases for a period of 48–96 hours. Long-term kits absorb gases for more than 90 days. Most short-term kits come with two separate tests. These tests should be administered simultaneously to validate the results.

Step 2: Chose a day free from storms or wind. Close all windows and exterior doors at least 12 hours before administering the radon test. Shut off ceiling fans and other ventilating devices. Leave the regular heating or cooling system running at a normal level.

Step 3: Open the test kit packaging and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 4: Choose a test location on the lowest level of the home. Avoid kitchens, baths, laundry rooms or other high humidity areas. Avoid crawl spaces and un-utilized areas of the home.

Step 5: Place the test kit at least 10 feet away from any sump pump pit, 3 feet away from doors or windows and 12 inches away from any wall.

Step 6: Close nearby air vents and place the kit at least 20 inches above the floor.

Step 7: If the kit came with a second test vial, place the second vial in close proximity to the first. Both tests should show similar results to confirm validity.

Step 8: After the appropriate amount of time, seal up the test kits and mail them to the testing lab.

Step 9: If the results show a radon level above 4 pCi/L, administer a second test before contacting a licensed mitigation contractor.

One out of every 15 homes in the U.S. has elevated radon levels. Be sure to test your home for radon every two to three years to identify problems before they have a chance to cause health issues.

— Linda Cottin can be reached at


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.