Radon can be a menace to your health, and in many areas it’s a good idea to make sure that you know how to test for levels in the home. If you’re looking into getting a radon detector in order to ensure that your home is safe from this nefarious gas then you know it can be hard to make an informed choice for your home.
We’ll show you how to pick out the best radon detector for your home and help you ensure that your family stays safe.
Best Overall !
This is a great investment for the home, particularly in areas where radon concentrations are naturally high. If you can afford it, you’ll be pleased with it’s performance.
|First Alert RD1|
|Short Term Test|
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|Accustar Alpha Track Test Kit||Long Term Test|
|AccuStar Charcoal||Short Term Test|
|Corentium Home by Airthings||Electronic|
What is Radon?
Radon is a nearly undetectable noble gas. This means that while it’s unreactive with almost everything out there, it still poses a danger to humans due to its radioactivity.
While the gas itself has a short half-life, roughly 3.8 days or so, it is continuously generated through the radioactive decay process. It generates from radium decay, which is in turn generated by the decay of both uranium and thorium. This means that most of the material will come from trace amounts of these elements in the soil.
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Since radon is one of the densest gasses, it has a tendency to pool in the lower levels of a home. This means that places such as basements are at the most risk for developing a high enough concentration of the gas to be potentially damaging.
The health risks of radon primarily come in the form of long term exposure to the gas increasing the risk for lung cancer. Radon is also the primary source of the radiation that most of us will be exposed to over a lifetime, making up for a significant portion of background radiation.
If you find out that your home is higher than the “actionable” levels of radon, then you may want to take mitigation measures but either way it’s a good thing to check for in order to increase your piece of mind.
While it can’t be eliminated from the home entirely due to its ubiquitous nature, measures can be taken to make sure that the radon in your home is not in a dangerous range. This is where radon detectors come in.
What to Look for in a Radon Detector
Since there are so many different products on the market which can detect radon it’s important to make sure that you go with something good. If you’re not familiar with the products, and most people aren’t, it can be a bit confusing.
If you’re looking to check the levels of gas in your home, then you’ll need to decide on a kit and make sure it’s accurate as well.
Type of Detector
Radon detectors come in three main varieties.
Short term detection kits require a few days in order to give you a rough idea of the radon levels in your home at the current time. These are usually the first place people will go since they’re fairly cheap and you’ll have results within a few days.
Long term detection kits are made to measure the levels of radon in the home year round. This will let you know if the levels spike during different weather, temperatures, or seasons. Due to the nature of the gas it’s only natural that it will vary through the year and this can help you determine if you really do need to go with a long term solution.
Both of these varieties will require lab verification in almost all cases, so you’ll need to send them in after they’ve been used. Make sure that you don’t forget they’re there, many of these tests are only good for a limited amount of time after they’ve been placed.
Electronic radon detectors come in the form of a specialized tool which will allow you to get a quick reading of the ambient levels at the time you’re using them. They can be used for either short or long term use and you’ll find them to be the most versatile.
While it’s not an immediate risk to your health, you do want to make sure that you have a kit which is accurate. In this case long term radon detection kits tend to be the most accurate. Short term kits have a tendency to underreport the amount of gas.
User error will factor in as well, so make sure that you follow the instructions that come with your kit to the letter.
How to Properly Use a Radon Detector
When you use your radon detector you’ll want to use it in the lowest area of the house. As stated above, radon is amazingly dense which means it will often sink to the floor in most places.
The placement of your kit matters quite a bit as well, most of them are recommended to be placed between 20 and 72 inches from the floor.
In a home with a basement, you’ll naturally want to head downstairs for your detection while a crawlspace will be best detected in the room directly over it. If you have a standard foundation, nearly any room will do as long as you follow some extra guidelines.
If you have multiple foundation types it may be a good idea to order more than one kit or invest in an electronic detector.
Once you’ve found the lowest area in the home, then you’ll also have some additional restrictions on where to place your kit. The main thing you want to avoid is humidity, so bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.
You also want to avoid exposing the detector to any more heat than is strictly necessary since it can damage things and result in a botched reading.
Before placing, for most detection kits, you’ll also need to make sure that all doors and windows into the room are closed for at least twelve hours and for the duration of the test it’s important that you don’t expose the area to any extra wind flow above and beyond normal entry and exits.
Most detectors will come with instructions that will put you on the right path, but if you misplace the booklet or pamphlet then the above measures should be enough to guide you to an accurate reading as long as your detector is up to snuff.
Most detectors will include a lab fee and a couple of envelopes as well, allowing you to pay the fee just once and get the lab verified results within ten days or so of the kit arriving at the lab.
Fortunately, much of the risk that radon poses can be mitigated. To detect the gas, however, you’ll first need to know what the levels are in your home. We hope we’ve been able to guide you to a great detector that will serve your needs, and help you relax about the levels of radioactive gas potentially in your home.