what are the signs of radon in your home?

What Are Signs of Radon in Your Home?

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

  • Radon is a naturally occurring gas in the atmosphere and the earth’s crust, but in high concentrations, it can be hazardous to your health.
  • Radon gas is invisible and odorless, so it’s important to be able to recognize signs of radon
  • The only way to identify radon is through testing.
  • There are multiple ways to test your home for radon, including DIY kits and different methods of professional testing.
  • Professional radon mitigation can minimize the presence of radon in your home and prevent it from entering in the first place.

Owning a home comes with several responsibilities and common concerns to think about. Although, one of the lesser-known risks to consider is a natural element called radon. According to the EPA, 1 out of every 15 homes in the US is estimated to have elevated radon levels, so it’s helpful to be able to identify the signs of radon and its potential risks to avoid any unnecessary health concerns. Being proactive and understanding what to look for makes all the difference.

Professional services can provide you with valuable peace of mind by supporting you with accurate testing and effective radon mitigation. At Alpha Environmental, we want to support you in every aspect, from providing testing and mitigation to providing the education necessary to recognize signs of radon.

What Is Radon and Why Is It Important?

Radon is a type of radioactive gas found naturally in the earth’s crust. Although it is naturally occurring, it can be dangerous to your health in high concentrations. With the various health risks associated with radon exposure, it’s important to be able to identify and address the issue as soon as possible.

Because it exists naturally in soil, this gas can find its way into your home through cracks in the foundation, construction joints, open pipes, or drains. Therefore, homeowners should be aware of the potential risks.

Radon exposure can lead to considerable health risks, both in the short and long term. In the short term, exposure may cause a cough or chest discomfort. However, the long-term risks are more serious, as radon has been found to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US.

Signs of Radon

The first step to avoiding the risks of radon is to know how to identify the signs so you can catch it early. Radon is odorless, tasteless, and colorless, making it extremely difficult to spot. However, there are some warning signs that you can look out for.

Some indicators that may signify a risk of radon include:

  • Cracks in your home’s foundation or walls
  • Moisture problem or mold growth in the crawl space, indicating an entry point for elements into your home
  • Cracks or openings in areas of the basement

Keep in mind that if you discover any of the above issues, it doesn’t mean that your home definitively has radon. These signs are simply just risk factors that can increase the chances of radon entering your home.

Radon levels also depend on your home’s location and the type of soil around your home. If you are in an area where radon levels are known to be high, then there is a higher likelihood of radon entering your home.

For example, Portland has higher levels of radon compared to other areas in the state, so we at Alpha Environmental encourage Portland residents to consider radon testing and mitigation while supporting residents in the process for over 21 years.

Invisible Signs and Symptoms

Because radon is known as an invisible gas, it can take a toll on your health without you even realizing it. Radon gas exposure primarily affects your respiratory system.

Some of the potential symptoms of radon poisoning can include:

  • A cough that won’t go away
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pains
  • Constant fatigue
  • A raspy voice
  • Wheezing
  • Respiratory infections  

Common signs of radon exposure are not too different from a standard cold, which can make it tricky to spot. However, if these symptoms seem to persist with no explanation, then it may be an indicator to check your home for radon.

The Importance of Radon Testing

Radon is known as an invisible gas since it is so difficult to identify. Therefore, radon testing is essential for definitively determining whether or not radon gas levels in your home are high.

There are multiple options available to you to test your home for radon.

  • DIY Kits – These kits can be helpful for determining whether radon may exist in your home. However, they are limited in the amount of information they can provide.
  • Professional testing services – Professional testing services offer a variety of testing methods using specialized, calibrated equipment that can identify if radon is present and in what amount.

Although at-home tests for radon do exist, accurate testing is better left in the hands of professionals. With access to specialized tools and advanced expertise, the professionals can tell you whether radon is present in the home, how much is present, and where it is coming from. As a result, professional testing is much more helpful for developing a mitigation plan.

Professionals, like our team at Alpha Environmental, are also able to provide a variety of testing options for radon, including:

  • Short-term testing
  • Long-term testing
  • Continuous radon monitoring

Between these different methods, you can determine not only if radon is present at the moment but also how much radon levels may vary in your home throughout the year. For continuous radon monitoring, the device must be calibrated to EPA standards twice a year to ensure accuracy.

Because radon is common, it is a good idea to test for the gas regularly. The EPA suggests testing once every two years to ensure that your home remains at safe radon levels.

Recognizing High Radon Levels

Exposure to any radon is not necessarily a significant risk. The greatest concern comes from prolonged exposure at high amounts and for long periods of time. The benefit of professional testing is that it can tell you how much radon is present in your home, empowering you to decide if you need to take action.

Radon levels are measured in a unit called picocuries per liter (pCi/L). The EPA recommends taking action to fix your home if the radon level is 4 pCi/L or higher.

The EPA has not determined a safe level of exposure to radon, so they recommend homeowners consider fixing their home if levels are anywhere between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L. At this level, it is completely up to the homeowner’s discretion.

For comparison, the average concentration of radon in outdoor air is about 0.4 pCi/L, and the average indoor radon concentration for homes in America is about 1.3 pCi/L. Professional testing can help you determine the exact level in your home and provide guidance on whether you should act.

Steps for Radon Mitigation

Since radon is a naturally occurring gas, it is impossible to completely eradicate all traces of it, but you can take steps to mitigate the presence of the gas and protect your household from radon exposure.

Some steps you can take for radon mitigation include:

  • Ensuring proper ventilation throughout the home
  • Inspecting crawl spaces and or your basement for cracks or flaws in structural integrity
  • Sealing any cracks or gaps in the floors and walls with caulk or plaster
  • Asking about construction techniques for newly constructed homes

For reliable radon mitigation, it’s best to turn to the professionals, especially if you have already confirmed that radon is present in your home. Professionals will follow a detailed process to ensure that your home is safe from risk.

Depending on your home, professionals may recommend a radon mitigation system to keep the gas out. A mitigation system installation can either reduce existing radon levels or prevent radon from entering entirely.

This system works either through an active fan to expel radon from a basement or crawlspace or works through a passive method of circulating air through a space. Passive systems work well when installed in new construction.

Creating a Radon-Safe Home Environment

Radon gas is a naturally occurring gas, so it can affect any home, but you can take steps to mitigate your risk. Creating a radon-safe home environment starts with knowing the signs of radon and testing for the radioactive gas.

At Alpha Environmental, we can put your concerns about radon to rest by offering affordable radon testing and radon mitigation. With over 21 years of experience serving the Portland area, you can trust us to support you and your family. We have the advanced tools and expertise necessary to ensure your home is safe and comfortable. Contact us today for an accurate test of whether radon is present on your property and to learn more about how we can help you address it.

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David D.
Lake Oswego, OR
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My wife and I experienced a hot water pipe busting in the crawlspace. It has been a total nightmare. However, Chris and his team provided expert quality care, with timeliness and the greatest degree of professionalism. I would HIGHLY recommend Alpha Enviornmental!
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Beaverton, OR
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Can’t say enough about Alpha Environmental! Their costumer service is 10/10, they have really good systems in place, responsive, and professional. The gals in the scheduling department are always so kind! As a real estate agent, I use Alpha’s services numerous times a year. Either it’s for Mold bids, oil tank decommissioning, radon etc. They always do a fantastic job! Thank you for all the work you do!