There are certain areas of our lives where do-it-yourself (DIY) approaches are quite effective and viable, but also others where they generally should not be attempted. Others also ride the line here, and a good example is radon testing — while it’s certainly possible to test for radon levels in your home on your own, there are a few important reasons why it’s typically not recommended.
At Absolute Radon Safety, we’re happy to offer the very best radon testing and radon mitigation programs available in Colorado, removing any risks that may be present for those attempting to DIY this important area. While at-home DIY radon tests do exist, here are some of the potential drawbacks that come with utilizing them — and some of the reasons why leaving these tests to the professionals is generally the prudent move.
Improper DIY Test Kit Placement
Most of the DIY radon tests you’ll find on the market require you to place them in a specific location within your home for an extended period of time — typically 2-90 days, depending on the type of test being used. The problem here is that many people do not realize how important proper test kit placement is, and as a result will often put their kits in places where they may not get an accurate reading.
For example, many people will put their test kits in their basements without realizing that the results may not be representative of the rest of the house if radon is only present in certain areas. Other common mistakes include putting the test kit too close to a window or door, where drafts can impact results, or in an area where there is a lot of background radiation (such as near an x-ray machine).
All of these factors can play a role in getting inaccurate results from your test, which in turn can lead to either a false sense of security or undue worry about the radon levels in your home.
DIY Test Kits May Not Meet EPA Standards
In other cases, the problem with DIY radon tests is not necessarily one of placement, but rather that the test kit itself may not meet Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for accuracy. The EPA has established very specific protocols that must be followed in order to ensure reliable results from a radon test, and many of the DIY kits on the market do not meet these standards.
As a result, these DIY kits may not be able to provide accurate readings of the radon levels in your home, which means you could end up either underestimating or overestimating the risk that’s present.
Impact of AC or Other HVAC
In some situations, especially if your test is placed too close to a vent or other opening, the results of your test may be impacted by your home’s air conditioning or other HVAC system. This is because these systems can circulate air throughout the house, which can in turn impact the concentration of radon present in any given area.
If you’re using a DIY test kit, it’s important to be aware of this potential issue and to take steps to avoid it if possible. One way to do this is to place your test kit in an area that’s as far away from any vents or other openings as possible, but this is often not practical or possible in many homes.
As a result, it’s often best to leave radon testing to the professionals instead.
Waiting for Results
With at-home radon test kits, you generally have to collect your sample, then send the results out to a lab to be analyzed. This process can take a week or more, which means you could be left in limbo for quite some time before you get your results back.
This isn’t necessarily a big issue if you’re just testing for peace of mind, but if you believe that there may be high levels of radon present in your home, waiting for results could put you and your family at unnecessary risk in the meantime.
Simply Less Accurate
And on the simplest level, even if you do everything properly with your at-home test kit, there’s just no getting around the fact that these tests are generally less accurate than ones performed by professionals. This is because professional testers have access to more sophisticated equipment and techniques, which means they can usually get more accurate readings.
Re-Testing May Be Necessary
Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that even if you do get accurate results from your DIY radon test, you may still need to have the property re-tested by a professional later on. This is because radon levels can fluctuate over time, and what may have been a safe level when you tested may no longer be safe a few months or years down the road.
Go With the Pros
For all of the reasons we’ve gone over here, plus for simple peace of mind when it comes to something as important as your family’s health, it’s usually best to leave radon testing to the professionals. These trained experts have the experience and expertise necessary to get accurate readings, which in turn can help you make the best decisions about protecting your family from this invisible killer.
If you’re concerned about radon in your home, contact our team at Absolute Radon Safety today. We’ll immediately help you set up an appointment to test your home for radon and determine if further action is necessary.