I often get questions about testing protocols for radon test kits. First, when doing home testing with a kit, make sure all the directions are read. In our own test kits – which are similar to others – there are basic instructions that talk about how to physically set the kit. However, on the back there are more in-depth instructions that should be read and followed.
First, the most important instructions are to maintain closed house conditions starting 12 hours before the test. Close all windows and exterior doors and turn off any fans that vent to the outside. This also includes a door to the garage if you have one. Normal heating and AC can be used and normal use of doors is acceptable as long as doors are immediately closed after use. If outside air is allowed to circulate through the house this will give a false low to the testing. It is also important to note that in certain situations it can also give a false high reading. So it is important to be strict with this protocol.
Second involves placement. The state of Pennsylvania requires – in a non-real estate test – for a kit to be placed in the lowest lived in area of the house. This would be a basement, but not a crawl space, garage or any other unheated unused space. Additionally, bathrooms and washrooms should not be used, but this is more for humidity issues.
Radon is usually highest in the basement, and also tends to be more consistent there. This allows for the most consistent measurement. This assures that other areas of the house will be probably be lower.
Third, the device should be placed at a level where people normally breathe. This is between 2 and 6 feet. This should be obvious. We want to measure the air people will actually inhale. Also the devices should be more than 3 feet away from doors, vents, exterior walls and exterior windows. Moving air can also have an effect on testing results. Interior fans, even though they are not exhausting air, should also be turned off if in the same room as a test kit.
In the end all of these “rules” are about getting the most accurate reading for the home owner.
To learn more about radon test kits or to purchase one, visit www.breathepa.org/radon-test-kit.