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Should you hire a professional for radon testing or do it yourself?

Thursday, March 12th


Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. It is extremely dangerous and it is vital that you have your home or commercial property tested. However, that still leaves you with the decision of whether to test your home yourself or hire a professional radon contractor. The short answer? Working with a professional radon testing contractor will always yield more accurate results and be less hassle, but let’s break it down in greater detail.

How do you test for radon yourself?

In order to conduct a do-it-yourself (DIY) test you will need a radon test kit. These test kits usually consist of two vials for collecting samples and a form and mailing address for sending the sample to the appropriate lab. Depending on the type of test kit, you’ll leave it in your home for a minimum of 48 hours (EPA guideline) as indicated by the instructions that come with every kit. Once the required time has passed you can send the sample to the attached lab and they will analyze it and then provide you with the results.

However, there are a lot of factors that can affect your radon readings. In order to ensure your radon test kits provide the most accurate results possible, you need to follow several steps:

  • Seal the residence, including windows and doors leading outside, for at least 12 hours before testing. During the test you should continue to keep the doors and windows shut whenever possible and should keep all fans and temperature coolers (like air conditioners) off.
  • Place the test kit in the lowest possible living level, which may be a basement or unfinished basement that could be finished someday.
  • The test kits should be at least 20 inches above the floor.
  • Ensure the test kit remains undisturbed for however long the test kit instructs, usually 48 to 96 hours.
  • Avoid placing kit near vents, windows, or exterior walls.
  • Do not place in a kitchen, utility room, or bathroom. Ideal location is a living room, family room, bedroom, or open unfinished area that may be finished in the future.

The problems with do-it-yourself testing

As you might have guessed from the long list of steps to follow above, there’s a lot that can go wrong with any kind of do it yourself test. Not only do you need to ensure that you place the test kit correctly, but you can also skew the entire result simply by turning on a fan or keeping a window open for too long.

There are other issues as well. In order to get your results, you’ll need to send the sample to a lab that will analyze it before sending you the results back. This process takes time and you might not get the results for several weeks. This makes radon test kits a bad idea if you need prompt results.

Why choose professional radon testing?

While radon test kits can provide inconsistent results, professional radon testing is far more reliable. A professional radon contractor will use more specialized tools that are more accurate, and as long as they are properly trained and certified, such as the contractors in the National Radon Defense network, you can expect less hassle with the test. They’ll also inform you of anything you should avoid doing while the test is ongoing.

Radon measurement professionals are required to complete a rigorous licensing process that includes a 3 day course and proctored exam. After passing the exam, they then must develop a Quality Assurance plan and apply to become licensed with the National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP), the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB), or their state of residence.

The instruments used by license radon professionals are sensitive and very accurate. The reports generated from these annually calibrated Continuous Radon Monitors provide details on your radon levels throughout the testing period, versus test kits that just provide a single number result.

Another advantage of going with professional radon testing is the speed. While it might take several weeks for a lab to get back to you with results, a professional radon testing contractor can let you know your radon level as soon as the test finishes. They’ll also be better able to advise you on the next steps and radon mitigation if your home has a high level of radon. If you are involved in real estate or own a commercial property or multi-family home you may even be required by regulations to have your testing done by a professional, certified radon contractor.

If you are looking for a qualified contractor then we can help. As a network of trusted radon professionals, we can help you connect with your local radon contractor. Contact us today to learn more and schedule your appointment with your local radon testing experts.

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