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How to Test for Radon

  • Transcript

    TOM: Well, there are a lot of things that you should do to make your home safe for you and for your family. And one very important thing that’s easy to overlook is testing for radon gas; something I did for many years as a home inspector. Here to give us the step-by-step on how to do just that is Kevin O’Connor, the host of This Old House.

    Hi, Kevin.
    KEVIN: Hey, Tom. How are you?
    TOM: Now, radon is something that people don’t think about but it’s still as big of a problem as it ever was.
    KEVIN: No, absolutely. And let’s start with what radon is. It’s actually a naturally-occurring, odorless and cancer-causing gas, which can enter the home through cracks and gaps in the basement floors and walls. And it’s a real problem. It’s estimated that one in every fifteen homes in the United States has elevated radon levels.
    Now, testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon and the action level is four picocuries per liter. So if you get a reading that is 4.0 or higher, it’s time to do something. Radon mitigation systems can be installed and the most common type of system is one that uses a fan in a vent to pull radon from beneath the house and to vent it safely to the outside.
    TOM: Alright. So now if you’ve got us all freaked out and people are thinking about if they have radon in their own house, what’s the first step?
    KEVIN: Well, if you’re concerned, the first thing you do is contact your state radon office and they’ll give you a list of qualified testers.
    TOM: Good point, because a lot of those testers are actually licensed these days.
    KEVIN: Absolutely, and that’s who you want to work with. You can also see a video of a radon system installation on ThisOldHouse.com.
    TOM: Great tip.
    Kevin O’Connor from This Old House, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
    KEVIN: Always a pleasure.
    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know, a lot of times, these home test kits are actually free. And in fact, we just had a listener write in about getting a free radon test, which really helped ease the financial worry; for the testing part, at least.
    TOM: And you know, you probably can check with your county extension office or your municipality because many times, they have either low-cost or no-cost radon tests available. And you can test your house and get the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you don’t have that stuff in your basement; unlike my friend, Leslie, who works in a basement all the time. (Leslie chuckles)
    LESLIE: Spends countless hours in her basement.
    TOM: Yes. Well, we’ll get your house tested, as well.
    Well, if you’d like to learn more from the experts at This Old House, you should watch them on TV, where This Old House is brought to you by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

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