Radon in your home is no laughing matter. It’s not something you should shrug off, like coming home and realizing you left the light on all day.
Radon is an extremely dangerous gas that can enter homes through the tiniest foundation cracks, cracked door seals, and windows. Exposure to high levels of radon gas over time can cause lung cancer. In fact, radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.
That’s why it’s essential to test for radon levels in your home and to choose the right type of test. However, you may be wondering which is better: a DIY radon testing kit vs. professional radon testing and mitigation.
In this article, we’ll explore what radon is, discuss the key differences between DIY radon testing kits and professional testing, and help you decide which option is right for you. We’ll also cover the advantages and limitations of each method.
Whether you’re a homeowner concerned for your family’s health or a real estate professional helping clients buy or sell a home, this article will provide the insights you’re looking for to help you make an informed decision.
What is Radon?
Radon isn’t like natural gas that powers stoves. It’s a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that’s found naturally in soil.
Radon is a radioactive gas that’s formed by the natural breakdown of uranium found in most soils. The gas then moves in an upward direction through the ground and seeps into homes through foundation cracks, doors and windows.
Once it’s trapped inside, the gas can build up to dangerous levels. Exposure to radon is a significant health risk and is estimated to cause about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States alone.
It’s important to note that any home can be exposed and have a radon problem, from homes that are hundreds of years old to new builds.
While the main source of radon comes from the soil, radon can also seep into homes through well water and even some building materials.
DIY Radon Testing Kits vs. Professional Radon Testing
DIY Radon Testing Kits
DIY radon testing kits can be found readily available at most home improvement stores or online. These kits typically include a single test device and instructions on how to set up the test and collect results.
Most kits will require the device to be placed in a specific location in their home for a set period. This is usually between 2 and 12 hours.
These DIY kits are generally affordable and intuitive to use, making them a popular option with homeowners who wish to conduct an initial test.
One advantage of using a DIY radon testing kit is that they provide relatively quick results that are easy to obtain. Homeowners won’t need to spend time waiting for a professional to schedule a visit or even wait for the lab results. Essentially, the DIY kits allow homeowners to conduct tests at their convenience.
Additionally, DIY testing kits are much more affordable than professional testing, making them considerably more attractive for homeowners on a tight budget.
However, DIY radon testing kits also come with limitations. One of the most significant is that these tests can have less accurate results compared to professional testing methods.
The potential for inaccurate results is due to the DIY kits only measuring for a short period of time, while professional testing may involve taking measurements over a much more extended period.
DIY radon testing kits also may not be as sensitive as professional methods and may not detect low levels of radon. This leads to false negatives where the test shows that the radon levels are low when in fact, they’re much higher.
It’s also important to note that DIY radon testing kits may not be able to provide a complete picture of the radon levels in your home. The final results will likely vary depending on where the device is placed and the temperature and humidity levels during the testing session.
Despite these limitations, these kits can be a suitable option for homeowners who wish to conduct an initial test themselves or are on a tight budget.
They can provide a general idea of the radon levels and help identify areas with higher levels in the home. However, homeowners must remember that if the DIY test does indicate a high level of radon, it’s a must to follow up with a professional to conduct further testing to confirm the results and identify the source.
Professional Radon Testing
Unlike DIY kits, certified radon professionals typically conduct professional radon testing. These professionals are armed with specialized equipment and training to be able to conduct a comprehensive and highly accurate test than what’s possible with the DIY kits.
Professional radon testing can also provide guidance on radon mitigation options and help identify the source of radon gas.
Most certified radon professionals will typically offer a range of testing services, including short and long-term testing options. The short-term testing option will typically involve measuring radon levels over a period between two and seven days.
The long-term testing option typically measures radon levels over a minimum of 90 days. In most cases, long-term testing is recommended to get a more accurate idea of the radon levels and reliable results.
Most professional radon testing methods, regardless of company, will include passive radon testing and continuous radon monitoring.
Passive radon testing involves using a special device, like a charcoal canister or alpha track detector, and continuous monitoring often uses an electronic monitor that measures and records radon levels.
Certified radon professionals use equipment you won’t find in your local home improvement store that can detect low levels of radon that most DIY testing kits will miss. In other words, professional radon testing will lead to more accurate and reliable results, making it a better option for homeowners seriously concerned about radon levels.
At the end of the day, when considering a DIY radon testing kit vs. professional testing, professional testing will provide a more comprehensive and accurate report. It can provide a complete picture of the home’s radon levels and identify the source at the same time.
Choosing the Right Radon Testing Method
When it comes to choosing the best radon testing method, there are several factors to consider. The following are some of the factors best to keep in mind when deciding between a DIY radon testing kit or hiring a professional.
Accuracy and Reliability
One of the most important factors to consider is how accurate and reliable the testing method is. As stated earlier, professional testing is typically more accurate and reliable than DIY testing kits.
This is because certified radon professionals use specialized equipment and will take multiple measurements over a longer period.
In contracts, DIY testing kits will typically measure levels between 2 and 12 hours, which may not be enough time to provide a complete report of the radon levels.
Time and Convenience
Another factor to consider is how long the testing will take and how convenient it will be.
For example, DIY radon testing kits are often more convenient and faster to conduct than professional testing, as homeowners will conduct the test at their leisure without waiting for an appointment or lab results.
However, professional radon testing will provide a more comprehensive picture of the radon levels, which may end up being more convenient in the long run.
Cost and Certification
Cost is another important factor to consider when selecting the right radon testing method. Generally, DIY kits are much more affordable.
However, it’s important to remember that if the DIY testing kit indicates high levels of radon, a follow-up with a professional is required to confirm the results.
When selecting a professional to conduct the test, it’s important to make sure they’re certified in radon measurement and mitigation. This ensures that you receive accurate and reliable results. It also provides peace of mind that any mitigation work follows industry standards.
Give Us a Call for Professional Radon Testing
Whether you choose a DIY radon testing kit or hire a professional, testing is essential to ensure your home is safe from radon exposure.
While professional testing is much more comprehensive, DIY kits may be a more suitable option for homeowners who wish to conduct the initial test themselves or those who are on a tight budget.
If you’re ever in need of professional radon testing and mitigation, give us a call. We offer professional radon testing and mitigation services to ensure your home is safe and free of dangerous radon gas.