Testing your home for radon gas

Making sure that your home is safe for you and your family is absolutely essential. If your home was built before 1960, it is important to test for radon. Not only is it important to know if it is present if you decide to sell your home, it is critical for your health. Radon is known to cause cancer through repeated exposure. According to EPA estimates, radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers, with 20,000 deaths per year on average.

What is radon?

It is an odorless, colorless gas produced when uranium in the soil breaks down. Radon enters your home through the foundation, where the foundation comes in contact with the soil. If radon is present, it is drawn in to the home because the air pressure inside is usually less than that of the soil. It acts as a vacuum, drawing radon gas in through gaps, cracks and cavities in walls where plumbing enters, and through construction joints.

Radon is a fairly common occurrence. One in 15 homes has radon levels high enough that the U.S. government recommends that action is necessary to control the leakage. A simple home test can tell you if radon is above the safe level. You can purchase a test kit from Kansas State University’s National Radon Program Services for about $15.

The kit is placed in the lowest lived-in area of the house, generally the first floor or basement, for three days or four days. If testing reveals an unsafe level of radon in the home, it is important to take action immediately. Radon remediation methods are highly effective. Radon mitigation is like many other home repairs — you may want to get a few estimates before choosing your radon contractor.

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