Three reasons why winter is the best time to test your home for radon.

Photo By Jameson Malgeri

About your home from Jameson at Another Level Home Inspection LLC

Did you know that regardless of what type of home you have or if you already have a radon mitigation system, the EPA suggests testing the radon level every two years? If you are like most people, you considered a test when purchasing a property and haven’t thought about it since. The EPA suggests testing EVERY home for radon. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US with an EPA predicted result of 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year. Testing for radon has recently become more popular in the US and people who have been in their homes for a long time may never have tested. One in four homes in Massachusetts has an unsafe level of radon and from my experience in testing many homes on Cape Ann there is a much higher percentage in this area. If you haven’t tested your home, it’s an easy choice to have a test completed to keep you family safe and prevent having to find out later when selling your home and paying for a system then. This begs the question, when is the best time to complete a test? The answer is now during winter! Let’s discuss some of the reasons why.

First off, the winter is the time that the EPA and other environmental authorities recommend testing. Heat plays a role in the radon level of your home and several factors impact how your home behaves. Radon enters the home because your house is like a vacuum. We are venting out of kitchens and baths; the stack effect and other related building science principles result in different pressure zones. A neutral pressure is typically in the middle of the house while a positive pressure is in the attic and negative pressure in the basement. In other words, your basement pulls in air from the soils, ground water, and gasses and this is how much of the radon enters the home. So, what does this all mean for testing? It means the highest level of a pressure difference is going to be in the winter due to heat rising. In fact, the EPA suggests retesting if your initial test was completed during the summer. “Test between November 1 and March 31. Radon levels are typically higher in the winter. Re-test your home if your first test was in summer.”* Testing now saves the cost of a second test if completed during the summer.

Beyond accuracy, another advantage to doing a radon test now is the availability of Radon professionals. As previously stated most testing occurs because of a real estate transaction. The winter happens to be a slower time of year for real estate so that means Radon testing contractors and Radon mitigation contractors are more responsive, more available and may offer reduced pricing. On a side note, we offer testing services but do not do mitigation. It is our feeling that the people who do the testing should remain independent of the mitigation contractors.

The last reason to test during the winter is because following testing protocols are much easier for the occupants. When testing for radon we want all the doors and windows closed leading up to and throughout the test. This is challenging on a hot breezy day, but you are probably doing this anyhow during the winter. Normal coming and going is fine so you can still use your home as you normally would in the winter. The only time this seems to be a hardship is at times of the year that you would love to have you windows open because houses can get very stuffy keeping everything buttoned up for 60 hours minimum under some circumstances.

When you add all these factors up it makes sense to test this time of year. The only drawback is the potential for winter storms which can typically be scheduled around easily. My recommendation is don’t wait. If not now, when? The last thing I want for my clients is for them to skip out on a test. If the radon is high, they may end up being exposed to it for years and not saving any money when they end up buying a system for the future owner when they go to sell.

*https://matracking.ehs.state.ma.us/Environmental-Data/radon/pdfs/RadonTesting_Final.pdf

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