Radon

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Mitchell777
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Radon

Post by Mitchell777 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:07 pm

I’ve been reading old posts regarding radon. Thought I’d post my specific situation for any feedback. I used one of the devices that you set out for three months or more (4.5 months in my case). Came back 4.9 in the basement and 2.5 on the first floor (4 is the EPA action level). Uncertainty level is +/- 15% per the lab. The basement is unfinished and only used for washer/dryer and storage. No smokers in the house. I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that the 2nd floor of the house would be 2.5 or below. I’m in PA in an area known for higher than normal radon. Trying to decide if I should consider radon mitigation or perhaps do another test in the next year. Thanks

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Radon

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:12 pm

How "tight" is your basement? If there are leaks and places air might get in/out, put a fan in the basement to circulate the air. The door from the upstairs living area to the basement can be made more "tight". This alone might be enough to reduce you to below the EPA level.
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adamthesmythe
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Re: Radon

Post by adamthesmythe » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:15 pm

Radon is denser than air, so it is a very good bet that it is no higher on the top floor.

Keep in mind that if you sell the house- unless you happen to get a lower reading in the basement- you will probably be on the hook for the cost of a remediation system. At whatever prices are current at that time.

mbres60
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Re: Radon

Post by mbres60 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:16 pm

Years ago we tested our basement and it was about 4.5. I don't remember exactly. Didn't really have the money for remediation so did nothing because like you it wasn't that far off from 4. Fast forward 25 or so years and decided to test again. It was a little over 7 I think. Apparently it varies especially over time. We spent the money on mitigation. Glad we did although wish I did it when my kids were young and spent time in the finished basement playing video games all the time!

rhornback
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Re: Radon

Post by rhornback » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:18 pm

IMO Radon causing cancer in households is highly theoretical. From my research the correlation between Radon and cancer was observed by minors or other people who spent a lot of time underground. Unless you are sleeping in the basement I would not be concerned.

That being said it seems to be a hot button for home buyers. You might want to have your radon mitigated if you think you might have to anyway to sell the house.

My experience is radon occurs in a part of the basement. You can try to buy a radon kit to close up the sump pump. They sell at Amazon. That may or may not work. The best is to get the radon abatment pump professionally installed because they probably know where the radon is coming in from.

Ironically one of the features considered desirable on houses now is granite countertops. And granite can give off radon gas.

investingdad
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Re: Radon

Post by investingdad » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:20 pm

Mitchell777 wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:07 pm
I’ve been reading old posts regarding radon. Thought I’d post my specific situation for any feedback. I used one of the devices that you set out for three months or more (4.5 months in my case). Came back 4.9 in the basement and 2.5 on the first floor (4 is the EPA action level). Uncertainty level is +/- 15% per the lab. The basement is unfinished and only used for washer/dryer and storage. No smokers in the house. I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that the 2nd floor of the house would be 2.5 or below. I’m in PA in an area known for higher than normal radon. Trying to decide if I should consider radon mitigation or perhaps do another test in the next year. Thanks
I wouldn't bother.

I'm in PA and we had the basement tested before finishing it. It came back in the 30s.

We installed a remediation system that took it down to 4 or 5.

I think the risk factor is low as non smokers at that level.

rhornback
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Re: Radon

Post by rhornback » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:21 pm

adamthesmythe wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:15 pm
Radon is denser than air, so it is a very good bet that it is no higher on the top floor.

Keep in mind that if you sell the house- unless you happen to get a lower reading in the basement- you will probably be on the hook for the cost of a remediation system. At whatever prices are current at that time.
If you want to be unethical about this process, open up all basement windows before they come to do the test. As another poster indicated if you want to decrease radio sometimes you just need to provide more air movement out of the basement.

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hand
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Re: Radon

Post by hand » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:26 pm

Mitchell777 wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:07 pm
I’ve been reading old posts regarding radon. Thought I’d post my specific situation for any feedback. I used one of the devices that you set out for three months or more (4.5 months in my case). Came back 4.9 in the basement and 2.5 on the first floor (4 is the EPA action level). Uncertainty level is +/- 15% per the lab. The basement is unfinished and only used for washer/dryer and storage. No smokers in the house. I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that the 2nd floor of the house would be 2.5 or below. I’m in PA in an area known for higher than normal radon. Trying to decide if I should consider radon mitigation or perhaps do another test in the next year. Thanks
Decision criteria for me would be as follows:
1) Am I planning on selling the house within next couple years - if so, probably worth remediating now to save hassle during selling
2) How old are occupants of the house? If no kids, and I was significantly post-retirement, I probably wouldn't worry about a small increase in exposure to a carcinogen.
3) Do occupants of the house smoke (or are exposed to significant second hand smoke outside the home)? Radon risk seems to be multiplied for smokers - I'd likely prioritize a) stopping smoking(!) and b) Radon mitigation.

investingdad
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Re: Radon

Post by investingdad » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:27 pm

Remediation systems are cheap if the basement is unfinished.

It cost us $450 in 2014... and that was installed by Mr. Watras himself... the original radon guy that got the whole ball rolling.

Probably double if you have to run the pipe, code requires it for new construction in PA I think.

discman017
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Re: Radon

Post by discman017 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:29 pm

We had a radon level between 4 and 5 in our finished basement, where we sleep. We got a mitigation system installed for a little over $1000, so it's not terribly expensive as home improvement projects go.

In your situation, in an unfinished basement that you only use to do laundry and access storage and with no smokers in the household, I wouldn't worry about it. But it's a personal decision, based on risk tolerance and financial means to take action.

The EPA Citizen's Guide to Radon is worth looking at, if you haven't already: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/fi ... _radon.pdf

bhsince87
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Re: Radon

Post by bhsince87 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:55 pm

we were in a similar situation. i tested every 5 years, and would occasionally get a 5 or 6, sometimes 2-3,

Last year, I bought a full time monitoring device. For $200, it gave us a lot of peace of mind. since I bought it, it's gone above 4.0 on two occasions (in the basement). Upstairs, it's never gone above 3.5.

It is very interesting to see how it changes over time. And it definitely drops with just a few minutes of ventilation.

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Mitchell777
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Re: Radon

Post by Mitchell777 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 3:20 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:12 pm
How "tight" is your basement? If there are leaks and places air might get in/out, put a fan in the basement to circulate the air. The door from the upstairs living area to the basement can be made more "tight". This alone might be enough to reduce you to below the EPA level.
I think it's pretty tight. No door to the outside. It has three small windows, at ground level, but they have those thick glass blocks where the thin glass windows used to be. No crawl spaces. I do run a dehumidifier in the warm weather.

UALflyer
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Re: Radon

Post by UALflyer » Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:48 pm

hand wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:26 pm
Radon risk seems to be multiplied for smokers
Radon is a carcinogen, which causes lung cancer. So does smoking. So, if you are a smoker and are exposed to high radon levels, you are especially vulnerable. It's like being an alcoholic, which is a common cause of cirrhosis of the liver, and so is hepatitis C. If you have hep C and are an alcoholic, you're especially vulnerable.

OP, which device did you use? Digital home radon detectors are reasonably accurate, but given the fact that you are fairly close to the EPA action level of 4.0, I would use an alpha track radon test kit, which is very inexpensive: https://www.amazon.com/Accustar-Long-Te ... n+test+kit

If your test was done by using an alpha track kit, I would repeat the test and consider keeping it running longer, such as 4-6 months. Radon levels can and do vary depending on a ton of factors, including weather, time of year, etc..., so given the fact that you are on the fence and are talking about an unfinished basement with very infrequent usage, I'd run another long term test to get a better idea about your radon levels.

On the flip side, as others have mentioned, radon mitigation is generally very inexpensive, particularly for unfinished spaces, and, even if your radon levels are below 4.0, there is no such thing as a "safe" radon level, so the less radon, the better, so your money wouldn't be wasted. Also, since you run your dehumidifier in the basement in the summer, a running radon fan would also pull moist air from under the basement slab, which would help with the dehumidification.
rhornback wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:21 pm
If you want to be unethical about this process, open up all basement windows before they come to do the test.
Aside from the fact that you'd be knowingly exposing future home buyers to a carcinogen by falsifying the test results, and facing all the legal consequences associated with this, professional radon detection machines used by home inspectors are designed to detect attempts to tamper with them, such as moving them to a different area, creating air movement, etc...

People should keep in mind that radon level do fluctuate quite a bit though, so short term radon tests that are used by homebuyers and home inspectors are inherently unreliable. What some of the more sophisticated home relocation companies do is offer homebuyers an alpha track radon test, and agree to a contractual stipulation where post closing if the long term test results come back above the 4.0 action level, the moving company would then either pay for remediation or just write a check for a preset amount, like $1K or $2K. This way, the moving company doesn't have to pay for an unnecessary remediation based on an elevated short term radon test performed by a home inspector even though the long term radon level may be under the 4.0 action level. Regular home buyers and sellers would be wise to consider the same approach.
Last edited by UALflyer on Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:07 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon
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Re: Radon

Post by Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon » Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:00 pm

I used the cheap short-term 48-72 hour test kits. First Alert Brand off Amazon for like $12 each that got sent off to Alpha Energy Labs. What are you guys using for your long-term test kits? I want something more accurate than short-term.

Current house got 5.7 in basement, 3.1 main floor, 2.2 2nd floor
Last apartment got 31.2 and 20.0 in the basement (different seasons) and 9.2 in main floor bedroom.

I stayed at my last apartment for about 4 years, breathing in all that nasty air the whole time. I'm young and have developed a ton of health problems (including masses in my neck, autoimmune disease, and some other things), but so far it's all coincidence and I can't draw any causation yet. Many of my health problems developed or escalated about the time I moved into my last apartment, but that's just another coincidence. So far, no lung cancer diagnosis, but my doc says to monitor for many decades since it can take time. Lovely!

Even if your household is all non-smokers, I'd still get it mitigated just for peace of mind. If your home had only a "tiny" amount of asbestos or "tiny" amount of black mold or a "tiny" natural gas leak, wouldn't you still take care of it? I'd personally treat radon the same way, especially if it's a long-term commitment like a house you own.

I've read on other forums that even those people who had levels in the 3-5 range can still get it down in the 0-2 range.
Last edited by Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon on Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Mitchell777
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Re: Radon

Post by Mitchell777 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:04 pm

I used "Two-Pack: Accustar Alpha Track Test Kit AT 100", Purchased through Amazon. It looks like they are referred to a "alpha track foils".

UALflyer
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Re: Radon

Post by UALflyer » Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:15 pm

Mitchell777 wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:04 pm
I used "Two-Pack: Accustar Alpha Track Test Kit AT 100", Purchased through Amazon. It looks like they are referred to a "alpha track foils".
They are just two separate alpha track tests, instead of one. They are a very good idea for larger basements, as well as for situations where you want to minimize the likelihood of a lab error.

Amazon sells a single one for about $20. A two pack goes for about $35-$36: http://www.amazon.com/Two-Pack-Accustar ... +100&psc=1

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tadamsmar
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Re: Radon

Post by tadamsmar » Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:38 pm

You will probably have to disclose the positive test if you ever sell and do not remediate. Check on PA residential disclosure statements. Disclosure of positive tests is on the form I found for PA:

http://www.donaldjweiss.com/Sellers-Pro ... tement.pdf

if you have smokers in the home the risk is higher:posting.php?mode=edit&f=11&p=4013621#

https://www.epa.gov/radon/health-risk-radon

TT
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Re: Radon

Post by TT » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:23 pm

Mitchell777 wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:07 pm
I’ve been reading old posts regarding radon. Thought I’d post my specific situation for any feedback. I used one of the devices that you set out for three months or more (4.5 months in my case). Came back 4.9 in the basement and 2.5 on the first floor (4 is the EPA action level). Uncertainty level is +/- 15% per the lab. The basement is unfinished and only used for washer/dryer and storage. No smokers in the house. I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that the 2nd floor of the house would be 2.5 or below. I’m in PA in an area known for higher than normal radon. Trying to decide if I should consider radon mitigation or perhaps do another test in the next year. Thanks
I would recommend buying a radon detector that monitors radon in real time. I use the Corentium Home by AirThings Radon Gas Detector and tested it with a home inspectors model ( $1,000.00 + ) and the readings were within .01 - 0.02. The concentration of radon in the air is measured in units of picocuries per litre (pCi/L). The EPA uses 4.0 and below as safe. I tested my house for an entire year and in different rooms on the same level. Radon measurements varied by room and by the day and week. The basement averaged 2.15, the first floor averaged .032, and the second floor averaged 0.13. I have it installed in the center hall on the first floor and the reading average has remained at 0.32. Remember the goal is to reduce the level to the lowest concentration possible.

Here is what is recommended for action:
0 - 49 Bq/m3 (0 - 1.3 pCi/L): No action necessary.
49 - 99 Bq/m3 (1.4 - 2.6 pCi/L): Experiment with ventilation and sealing cracks to reduce levels.
100 Bq/m3 - 299 Bq/m3 (2.7 - 8 pCi/L): Keep measuring. If levels are maintained for more than 3 months, contact a professional radon mitigator.
300 Bq/m3 (8.1 pCi/L) and up: Keep measuring. If levels are maintained for more than 1 month, contact a professional radon mitigator.

Hope thIs helps

UALflyer
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Re: Radon

Post by UALflyer » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:28 pm

I just re-read the posts and see that the OP ran two separate Accustar alpha track test kits for 4 1/2 months. Residential radon testing doesn't really get any more reliable than this.

Since these highly reliable long term charcoal tests came back with a reading of 4.9 (were they both the same?), it's not a mistake, and I would immediately remediate. I get that this is an unfinished basement, which is used infrequently, but there's no upside in foregoing remediation, as, whenever the OP sells, it'll have to be remediated anyway, so the OP might as well enjoy less radon in the air.

UALflyer
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Re: Radon

Post by UALflyer » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:32 pm

TT wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:23 pm
I would recommend buying a radon detector that monitors radon in real time.
Why? He has done two long term charcoal tests, which is the gold standard of reliability, and came back with a 4.9. Further testing is not going to change anything.

Mitchell777
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Re: Radon

Post by Mitchell777 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:54 pm

UALflyer wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:28 pm
I just re-read the posts and see that the OP ran two separate Accustar alpha track test kits for 4 1/2 months. Residential radon testing doesn't really get any more reliable than this.

Since these highly reliable long term charcoal tests came back with a reading of 4.9 (were they both the same?), it's not a mistake, and I would immediately remediate. I get that this is an unfinished basement, which is used infrequently, but there's no upside in foregoing remediation, as, whenever the OP sells, it'll have to be remediated anyway, so the OP might as well enjoy less radon in the air.
I used one test kit in basement and one test kit on first floor. Basement was 4.9. First floor was 2.5

TT
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Re: Radon

Post by TT » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:54 pm

UALflyer wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:32 pm
TT wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:23 pm
I would recommend buying a radon detector that monitors radon in real time.
Why? He has done two long term charcoal tests, which is the gold standard of reliability, and came back with a 4.9. Further testing is not going to change anything.
Having an electronic radon detector is far superior as it has ongoing real time monitoring. Also, once remediation is done he will have test results to ensure the remediation was done properly and more importantly will alert him if the system fails as some systems do not have monitoring.

tim1999
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Re: Radon

Post by tim1999 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:57 pm

At that level (4.9), unless you plan on spending the rest of your life sitting in your basement with the doors and windows closed while chainsmoking cigarettes, I wouldn't bother remediating it.

I've found that having a professional radon test done for say $150-$250 when buying a house, and the test coming in at just over the 4.0 guideline, is a good way to get another $1,000-$1,500 from the seller straight into your pocket by not actually installing the system after closing.

UALflyer
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Re: Radon

Post by UALflyer » Tue Jul 10, 2018 7:11 pm

TT wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:54 pm
Having an electronic radon detector is far superior
Long term charcoal testing is the gold standard in reliability and is used as a radon clearance test. He used two of those over a 4 1/2 month period, so there is no question about the test results.

Electronic radon detectors are very convenient, and are generally precise (for the first year; they need to be calibrated after the first year), but charcoal testing is the radon clearance test.
as it has ongoing real time monitoring.
Given the above facts, why would it matter to the OP?
Also, once remediation is done he will have test results to ensure the remediation was done properly and more importantly will alert him if the system fails as some systems do not have monitoring.
As I mentioned above, electronic radon detectors generally need to be re-calibrated after the first year, and calibration costs more than a charcoal test.

There's nothing wrong with electronic continuous radon detectors, but in the OP's situation, there's no reason to spend money on one, as it won't give him any additional useful information that he doesn't already have. After remediation is completed, I'd use annual long term charcoal tests, which are not only cheaper and more reliable, but are also the ones that are required by many radon remediation companies for warranty purposes.

The greatest benefit of electronic continuous radon detectors is in situations where you are wondering about the impact of various things on your indoor radon levels (the impact of introducing more fresh air, etc...) and want to test several different areas. By the way, your home inspector's radon testing machine is expensive not because it is so precise (it also needs to be calibrated on a regular basis), but because it offers other bells and whistles, such as detecting home sellers' attempts to tamper with it.
The EPA uses 4.0 and below as safe.
The EPA does not say that radon levels below 4.0 are "safe." In fact, the EPA makes it very clear that no amount of radon is "safe." The EPA simply states that 4.0 is the radon "action level." It's not uncommon for people to remediate even at levels under 4.0.

The EPA actually says that people should "consider fixing between 2 and 4 pCi/L" https://www.epa.gov/radon/health-risk-radon#never

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Re: Radon

Post by Neuron » Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:04 pm

We had a level of 3.8 at the time of our home purchase 2 years ago and decided to remediate after I read through the studies on radon and lung cancer risk. I work at home and we have two young children. Also, our test was run in the spring and levels can fluctuate at different points in the year. After remediation the test came back with a level of 0.4 so it certainly brought us some piece of mind.

Mitchell777
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Re: Radon

Post by Mitchell777 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:09 pm

So as I'm reading through some of the links it looks like most people use the vent pipe system and fan which pulls radon from beneath the house and vents it to the outside. I assume the contractors also seal any openings.

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Re: Radon

Post by TT » Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:12 am

UALflyer wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 7:11 pm
TT wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:54 pm
Having an electronic radon detector is far superior
Long term charcoal testing is the gold standard in reliability and is used as a radon clearance test. He used two of those over a 4 1/2 month period, so there is no question about the test results.

Electronic radon detectors are very convenient, and are generally precise (for the first year; they need to be calibrated after the first year), but charcoal testing is the radon clearance test.
as it has ongoing real time monitoring.
Given the above facts, why would it matter to the OP?
Also, once remediation is done he will have test results to ensure the remediation was done properly and more importantly will alert him if the system fails as some systems do not have monitoring.
As I mentioned above, electronic radon detectors generally need to be re-calibrated after the first year, and calibration costs more than a charcoal test.

There's nothing wrong with electronic continuous radon detectors, but in the OP's situation, there's no reason to spend money on one, as it won't give him any additional useful information that he doesn't already have. After remediation is completed, I'd use annual long term charcoal tests, which are not only cheaper and more reliable, but are also the ones that are required by many radon remediation companies for warranty purposes.

The greatest benefit of electronic continuous radon detectors is in situations where you are wondering about the impact of various things on your indoor radon levels (the impact of introducing more fresh air, etc...) and want to test several different areas. By the way, your home inspector's radon testing machine is expensive not because it is so precise (it also needs to be calibrated on a regular basis), but because it offers other bells and whistles, such as detecting home sellers' attempts to tamper with it.
The EPA uses 4.0 and below as safe.
The EPA does not say that radon levels below 4.0 are "safe." In fact, the EPA makes it very clear that no amount of radon is "safe." The EPA simply states that 4.0 is the radon "action level." It's not uncommon for people to remediate even at levels under 4.0.


The EPA actually says that people should "consider fixing between 2 and 4 pCi/L" https://www.epa.gov/radon/health-risk-radon#never

Corentium Home by AirThings Radon Gas Detector is designed to not require yearly calibration. It can be used in various levels and rooms of your home and at different times of the year before and after remediation. I think two instruments reading radon levels with a variance of 0.01-0.02 is impressive. IMO $179 for an electronic instrument to continuously measure radon levels in one's home is a good investment.

UALflyer
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Re: Radon

Post by UALflyer » Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:13 am

TT wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:12 am
Corentium Home by AirThings Radon Gas Detector is designed to not require yearly calibration.
Technically, no electronic continuous radon detectors "require" calibration in the sense that they'll continue to function without it. Most manufacturers do recommend it, while Corentium doesn't. Corentium does, however, recommend calibration for its professional model (https://support.airthings.com/hc/en-us/ ... ion-in-USA).

It would seem odd for Corentium to use something in its cheaper home radon monitors that allows it to remain consistent without calibration, but not implement the same technology in its professional detectors. Hence, I don't know whether the difference in Corentium's recommendation is attributable to some odd difference in technology, or whether Corentium simply recognized the fact that most home users do not bother with annual calibrations, so it changed its recommendation to reflect this reality, while the technology remains the same.
It can be used in various levels and rooms of your home and at different times of the year before and after remediation. I think two instruments reading radon levels with a variance of 0.01-0.02 is impressive. IMO $179 for an electronic instrument to continuously measure radon levels in one's home is a good investment.
I don't disagree with any of this and do not think that there's anything wrong with any of the electronic continuous radon detectors on the market, but am not sure what any of this has to do with the OP. A 4 1/2 month long charcoal test, which is the radon clearance test, has come back at 4.9 in his basement, so no amount of further monitoring with any electronic radon detectors is going to give him any useful information that he doesn't already have.

If post-remediation the remediation company does not require charcoal testing and he wishes to monitor with an electronic radon detector, then there's nothing wrong with that (even if charcoal testing is required, it is only $25-$26/year, so, if you want, you can use both). Charcoal testing is much cheaper and is more reliable, but we are not talking about large amounts of money here anyway, and, if you like gadgets, electronic radon detectors are interesting and useful (as long as people do not freak out when they see short term radon readings spike up during various seasonal events, like heavy rains, etc...).

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Re: Radon

Post by LadyGeek » Sun Jul 22, 2018 12:19 pm

New member mswin has a question which I've moved into a new thread: [Options for installing a Radon mitigation system]
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Re: Radon

Post by carolc » Sun Jul 22, 2018 1:00 pm

When we bought our house a few years ago, we had it tested. It was about 4.8. We got some cement caulking and put it all along where the walls and floor join in an attempt to seal the radon gas out. We tested it again and it was 1.5.

Might be worth a try for fairly low levels.

carolc

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