January is National Radon Action Month – Now’s a Good Time to Test Your Home For Radon!

January is National Radon Action Month for good reason. It’s the time of year when we spend the most time indoors, and a lot of that time is spent in the lowest levels of our homes, where radon levels tend to be higher. Radon is invisible and odorless, so you won’t know if you have it without the test.

Now is a good time to check your heating, air conditioning or other ventilation systems!

The easiest way to test for radon is to obtain a test kit. The kit is relatively inexpensive and easy to use. Most hardware stores sell the kit for $15 to $20, and you’ll spend a similar sum when you send the kit to the manufacturer to obtain the test results.

If you do have high radon levels, you won’t have to move. Radon can be mitigated through various means.

How Can I Find Out If My Home Has a Radon Problem?

Radon is colorless, odorless and tasteless. Therefore, a radon test is the only way to find out how much radon is in your home. Performing a radon test on your own is easy, inexpensive, and can be done privately. Every home is unique due to its local soil, construction details, maintenance and degree of depressurization. Therefore, test results from nearby homes cannot be relied upon to predict the radon level in another home. Likewise, previous test results may not reflect current and future radon levels for a home that has been remodeled, weatherized or had changes made to its heating, air conditioning or other ventilation systems such as exhaust fans.

Radon Reduction

A heat recovery ventilator, or HRV, also called an air-to-air heat exchanger, can be installed to increase ventilation which will help reduce the radon levels in your home. An HRV will increase ventilation by introducing outdoor air while using the heated or cooled air being exhausted to warm or cool the incoming air. HRVs can be designed to ventilate all or part of your home, although they are more effective in reducing radon levels when used to ventilate only the basement. If properly balanced and maintained, they ensure a constant degree of ventilation throughout the year. HRVs also can improve air quality in homes that have other indoor pollutants. There could be significant increase in the heating and cooling costs with an HRV, but not as great as ventilation without heat recovery.

The filter in an HRV requires periodic cleaning and should be changed twice a year. Replacement filters for an HRV are easily changed and are priced between $10 and $25. Ask your contractor where filters can be purchased. Also, the vent that brings fresh air in from the outside needs to be inspected for leaves and debris. The ventilator should be checked annually by a Minnesota heating, ventilating, and air conditioning professional to make sure the air flow remains properly balanced. HRVs used for radon control should run all the time.

The MDH recommends that all Minnesota homeowners test their homes for radon. The results of a properly performed radon test will help homeowners determine for themselves if they need to take further action to protect their family from the health risks of radon in the home.

If you have already tested for radon, we congratulate you. And we encourage others to do the test.

U.S. Surgeon General Health Advisory “Indoor radon gas is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and breathing it over prolonged periods can present a significant health risk to families all over the country. It’s important to know that this threat is completely preventable. Radon can be detected with a simple test and fixed through well-established venting techniques.” January 2005