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National Radon Action Month

January 16, 2015 | Posted by Meg Gove, Radon and Seismic Manager

vbanner3_low_res.jpgJanuary is National Radon Action Month. Here are a few things you can do to take action this month.

Learn About Radon Risks

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website has great resources to help you understand the risks of high radon levels. There are several very useful publications that the EPA has put together for homeowners including “A Citizen’s Guide to Radon”, “Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon”, and “Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction”. 

Test Your Portland-Area Home

Winter is a great time to test radon levels in your home. You need to leave windows closed to get accurate results, and in Portland that’s much easier to do in winter.

If you want to test on your own, you can purchase a test kit at most hardware stores or online. The cost ranges from $10-$40 depending on the type you choose. With these kits, you place a test canister in an appropriate part of your home for 48-96 hours. Then you mail the canister in an included postage-paid envelope to a lab for processing. Results are generally available within a couple of weeks.

Hiring a radon measurement company to test your home may give you a more accurate reading of your home’s radon levels. Radon testing companies often use continuous radon monitors, which they place in your home for a minimum of 48 hours. These take hourly hourly radon readings and, depending on the monitor, sometimes hourly  temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure readings. The hourly readings for temperature, humidity, and pressure may help the testing company spot changes during the testing period that may threaten the validity of the results, such as open windows.

Reduce Home Radon Levels

If you’ve already tested for radon and found that your home has levels above 4.0 pCi/L, you should install a radon mitigation system, as recommended by the EPA. For levels between 2.0 pCi/L and 4.0 pCi/L, the EPA recommends that you consider radon mitigation.

The first step in mitigation should be finding a certified mitigation contractor to give you a bid. The contractor should do a thorough investigation of your home and talk to you about options for your mitigation system. Installing a mitigation system typically takes 1-2 days. Once the system is installed, you should perform a follow-up test. Some contractors will perform this test for you while others may leave a home test kit with you.

Check Your Radon Mitigation System

For homeowners who have already installed a radon mitigation system, Radon Action Month is a great reminder to ensure that the system is still working.

First,  check the system’s performance indicator, which is typically  a dial or a tube. This provides an indicator of how much negative pressure the fan is creating. We recommend checking the system performance indicator every two weeks or so, something that becomes more important as the fan ages.

It’s also important to do an occasional visual inspection of the system components. Do you hear the fan running? Is all the piping intact? Have any seals around pipe penetrations broken or been removed? Is your crawlspace sheeting damaged? Spotting and solving any problems is important to ensure that radon levels remain low in your home.

It’s also a good idea to retest your home every two years or after any major renovation or weatherization work, as radon levels can change over time.

Take Action Now

We can’t see or smell radon, which makes it easy to ignore. It’s all too easy to put it off until next month or next year. National Radon Action Month is all about encouraging each of us to take action now to make our homes a healthier and safer place for all us.

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