What to Do if You Have High Radon Levels in Your Home

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Radon is a radioactive gas that has no color and no odor, making it impossible to detect by sight and smell alone. The gas forms when radioactive elements in soil and rock break down, releasing the gas into the air and water. As a result, some homes have radon in them, which can increase the risk for lung cancer, especially in people who smoke cigarettes and already have a heightened risk of developing the disease. If your radon detector alerts you to elevated levels of this gas in your home, follow these tips to take care of the problem before it increases your risk for serious health problems.

1. Hire a qualified contractor.

Radon mitigation is not something to try on your own as a mistake could increase radon levels, putting your family at greater risk of health issues. Experienced contractors have the knowledge and specialized equipment they need to develop a successful mitigation plan, which will give you added peace of mind. If your state requires contractors to be licensed or certified to perform radon mitigation services, make sure you hire someone listed in the state database. Obtaining the required license or certification demonstrates that a contractor has the knowledge and skills needed to successfully reduce the amount of radon gas in your home. If your state does not require a special license or certificate, ask someone you trust to recommend a contractor. Your insurance agent or real estate agent may be able to recommend a reputable service.

2. Determine which type of radon mitigation is appropriate. Two types of mitigation are used to protect people from the harmful effects of radon. Some contractors focus on preventing radon gas from entering your home while others use mitigation strategies that are designed to reduce radon levels after the gas has already been released. The right strategy for your home depends on several factors. For example, the design of your home is an important consideration as the structure may have certain features that allow radon gas to easily pass from the basement into the main living areas. The type of foundation you have can also affect your choice of mitigation strategy. 

3. Continue conducting radon tests after the mitigation system is in place. Since radon is colorless and odorless, the only way to tell if the mitigation system is working is to continue testing for radon after the system is installed. The first test can be done any time within one month of installation, but you should not have a test immediately after the system is installed as radon levels may still be high because the system has not a chance to do its job yet. Instead of having your contractor test for radon, hire an independent tester to check your radon levels. An independent tester has no incentive to alter test results, which can protect you from paying for a radon-mitigation system that does not work.

High radon levels are a serious concern, but there are many things you can do to address the problem. The most important thing to do is hire a qualified contractor who can provide references and proof of experience. The right contractor can install a mitigation system that protects your family from this radioactive gas.