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How To Test Your Home For Radon

Radon Program
275 East Main Street
Frankfort, KY  40621
(502) 564-4856
Clay Hardwick

 How To Test Your Home For Radon
 
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You can’t see radon, but it's not hard to find out if you have a radon problem in your home. All you need to do is test for radon. Testing is easy and should only take a few minutes of your time.

The amount of radon in the air is measured in "picocuries per liter of air," or "pCi/L.’ Sometimes test results are expressed in Working Levels (WL) rather than picocuries per liter (pCi/L). If you prefer, or if you are buying or selling a home, you can hire a trained contractor to do the testing for you. Make certain you hire an EPA-qualified or state-certified radon tester. Call your state radon office for a list of these testers.
 

There are two general ways to test for radon

Year-Long Testing:  The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Kentucky Radon Program recommends that homes be tested for one full calendar year when practical.  Alpha track and electret detectors are commonly used for this type of testing. A year long test will give you a reading that will give you your home's year-round average radon level. 

Short-Term Testing: The quickest way to test is with short-term tests.  The Kentucky Radon Program provides these cost free for Kentucky residents. 

Contact your county health department or our office at the phone number listed above. Many kinds of low-cost do-it-yourself radon test kits are available through the mail and in hardware stores and other retail outlets. Make sure you buy a test kit that has passed EPA testing or is state certified. These kits will usually display the phrase Meets EPA Requirements.

Short-term tests remain in your home for 2 to 90 days, depending on the device. Charcoal canisters, alpha track electret ion chamber, continuous monitors and charcoal liquid scintillation detectors are most commonly used for short-term testing.

Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, a short-term test is less likely than a long-term test to tell you your year-round average radon level.  

How to use a test kit

Follow the instructions that come with your test kit. If you are doing a short-term test, close your windows and outside doors and keep them closed as much as possible during the test. (If you are doing a short-term test lasting just 2 or 3 days, be sure to close your windows and outside doors at least 12 hours before beginning the test, too. You should not conduct short-term tests lasting just 2 or 3 days during unusually severe storms or periods of unusually high winds.) The test kit should be placed in the lowest lived-in level of the home (for example, the basement if it is frequently used, otherwise the first floor). It should be put in a room that is used regularly (like a living room, playroom, den or bedroom) but not your kitchen or bathroom. Place the kit at least 20 inches above the floor in a location where it won’t be disturbed—away from drafts, high heat, high humidity and exterior walls. Leave the kit in place for as long as the package says. Once you’ve finished the test, reseal the package and send it to the lab specified on the package right away for study. You should receive your test results within a few weeks.
 
The Following Testing Steps Are Recommended For Home Owners
 
Step 1 Test with a year-long kit when practical. If your result is 4.0 pCi/L or higher*, have your home repaired.

Step 2. A short-term test kit may be used. Many kinds of low-cost do-it-yourself radon test kits are available through the mail and in hardware stores and other retail outlets. Make sure you buy a test kit that has passed EPA testing or is state certified. These kits will usually display the phrase Meets EPA Requirements. If your results are 4.0 pCi/L or higher, repeat the test. Average the results of the two tests. If the result is 4.0 pCi/L or higher, have your home repaired. The higher your short-term results, the more certain you can be that you should fix your home.

Step 3.  If a short-term radon test is used and the results are less than 4.0pCi/L, consider placing a year-long test kit to confirm the results.

The Following Testing Steps Are Recommended For Real Estate

Step 1. Contact a certified radon measurement professional. A list of certified professionals is available from the state radon program. If the results from the test is 4.0 pCi/L or higher, have the home mitigated.

Step 2.  You may chose to test the home yourself. Many kinds of low-cost do-it-yourself radon test kits are available through the mail and in hardware stores and other retail outlets. Make sure you buy a test kit that has passed EPA testing or is statecertified. These kits will usually display the phrase Meets EPA Requirements. Place the radon test kit per the manufacturer's instructions. Repeat the test immediately. Average the results of the two tests. If your result is 4 pCi/L or higher*, have the home repaired.

 Step 3.  If test results are less than 4.0pCi/L, consider placing a year-long test kit to confirm the results.


*0.02 Working Levels (WL) or higher
 
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Last Updated 5/9/2013
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