INDIANAPOLIS – You can’t smell it, you can’t see it, but it can be deadly over time.  I’m talking about radon gas, and almost every home in America has it.  In this Home Zone, we show you one way to test for radon and what to do about it, if your home levels are too high for EPA standards.

Recently somebody online asked me why was I putting in a radon mitigation system.  They wanted to know if I was getting headaches or something.  Radon, unlike carbon monoxide doesn’t give you headaches.  

The reason I tested for radon and then put in a system is because I saw my neighbor had a new pipe running up the side of their house.  It was for getting rid of radon gas under their basement.  I decided to check my radon levels.  Those levels if high enough can give you lung cancer over time.  Radon is the second leading cause on lung cancer behind smoking.  Radon is in the ground and in your house.  It seeps up through anything, including a concrete basement.  

Here’s how I checked for radon. I went on Amazon and got a $130 radon tester from AirThings.  It has similar accuracy to EPA kits and had positive reviews. Unlike the EPA kits, it can be used over and over again, and shared with family and friends when you’re done using it in your house.  So far, three of my friends and neighbors have used it.  Another tip is to have several neighbors buy one tester together to lower the price for each of you. 

The first step is to simply open the battery compartment and put in the triple A batteries.  You really don’t have to push any of the buttons, just set it down somewhere that’s not in direct sunlight.  It should be a few feet off the ground and away from airflow like a door or window. You basically want the detector to check the stagnant air in your home.  You will see dashes for several hours on the radon detector, then numbers will start to appear.  

The EPA wants your radon levels below four.  Those are pico curries, which is the level of measurement.  Any time the levels are above four, they suggest addressing it.  They are basically suggesting you to do whatever is needed to lower your levels.  

The World Health Organization has even tougher standards.  They suggest fixing a radon problem if the levels are over 2.7 pico curries.  For best results, don’t move the tester.  Just check it daily for about a week or two, looking at the average.  After two weeks, my radon levels upstairs had stabilized and were showing about double what the EPA said is acceptable.  The levels on the main floor were around 8.  And in the basement, the levels were more than triple EPA standards or 14 in my case. 

But you can greatly lessen the amount of radon with a fan system.  There are many options, but I used a high flow fan from Festa.  It basically pumps the air beneath out of your house, using a sump pit, if you have one.  Typically a sump pit fills with water that you don’t want flooding your basement.  Once it hits a certain level, the sump pump pushes the water out of your house.  But for radon, you use another pipe lowered down into the same pit that is sealed into the lid.  I bought a specific radon and sump lid to accommodate both the sump pump pipe and a radon pipe.

The pit needs to be airtight when being used to extract the radon.   The fan system pulls the air out from underneath your house, and ejects it before it makes its way into your home.  There are many radon fans to choose from.  They all do the same thing and are either on the outside of your home, venting above the gutter line, or in my case, the pipe went through the walls of the house, into the attic and out through the roof. 

There was already a pipe installed in the home, but no radon system so I just had to install a pipe from the pit to the existing pipe that was in the basement ceiling. The existing pipe ran through the walls of the home and into the attic and was capped off. I just had to mount the fan to the existing pipe in the attic and cut a hole in the roof and vent it out. My previous Home Zone shows how to do that. The fan needs to be plugged in, so it will likely be necessary to install an outlet a few feet away from the fan cord.

If you are testing your home, you will find the highest levels of radon in the lowest level of your house because it’s closer to the source of the radon, which is the earth.  After putting in a radon mitigation system, my levels dropped dramatically in just a day or two and have remained steady.  The radon levels dropped from 14 in the basement to less than 1 in all floors of my house which is well below the EPA or WHO standards.