Best Radon Test Kits

Updated January 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 10 Models Considered
  • 6 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 145 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best radon test kits

    Last Updated January 2019

    There is something nefarious lurking in your basement … maybe. It is odorless, colorless, and you can’t taste it, yet it could be slowly killing you. Oh, and it’s easy to test for. What is it? It’s radon, a radioactive gas that is released from the breakdown of radioactive elements in soil, rocks, and construction materials such as bricks and cinder blocks. This gas can easily enter your home through cracks in the foundation, openings such as drainage holes and sump pump reservoirs, and even from the gaps around pipes. It can also be present in well water, where it can be released every time you turn on a tap or run the shower.

    And yes, radon can be deadly. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that radon causes some 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year in the U.S. alone. It is also an illness that can take decades to kill you, meaning that you could be facing exposure now and not begin to realize it until the first signs of lung cancer appear several years later.

    Now that we’ve complete terrified you, it should be noted that radon is also, thankfully, easy and inexpensive to test for. There are steps you can take to reduce the amount of radon in your existing home or one that you are seeking to purchase, but you first need to know that the problem exists, and that is where testing is vital. This guide will walk you through some of the issues and features you’ll need to know before you set out to buy a radon test kit, in addition to some of the processes around their successful use.

    The EPA estimates that one out of every 15 houses in the U.S. has an elevated radon problem.

    Are you buying a short-term or long-term test kit?

    Short-term radon test kits, as the name implies, are kits that you set up and leave for anywhere for 24 hours to a week (check the kit’s documentation). Long-term test kits can require a significantly longer time to run — sometimes up to several months. While these types of kits are rarer than the short-term ones, they can give you better results as to actual radon levels.

    Know the lab turnaround time

    In addition to knowing how long to leave the test set up in your basement, you will also want to know how long it will take the lab to receive the kit, process it, and return it to you. Now that you’ve moved ahead with your radon testing project, you don’t want to find yourself waiting around forever for results. A 72-hour turnaround is generally a decent average for lab work.

    How easy are these kits to use?

    Radon testing doesn’t require an advanced degree or a significant time investment, particularly if you’re buying a short-term test kit. Still, you will want a kit that is as straightforward and easy to use as possible.

    The process typically runs like this: you purchase your test kit, follow the directions carefully to set it up, and then leave it for the recommended period of time. The kit should include a mailer so you can easily ship it to the lab; some mailers even include postage. The lab then processes the kit and sends the results back to you.

    EXPERT TIP

    When buying or selling a home, it is recommended that you take two tests within a short space of time, in a specific location in the house, and then average the two readings.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Know the number in a pack

    The EPA recommends that you do two tests in a row, so if you want to follow their recommendation, you should plan on either buying two kits or a bundle that includes two kits.

    Where to test

    The EPA, again, recommends that you test the lowest level of the building that you live in. We’ve also run across recommendations that you test all levels below the third floor of your building. While this latter recommendation may seem extreme, given the cost of the kits and the potential risk, you may feel it to be worth it.

    What do you do if you test positive for radon?

    You’ve done your radon test, sent in the results, and they came back positive. Now what do you do? If your kit covers all the bases, the documentation that shipped with it should offer ideas on how to proceed. If not, start searching for a local state-certified radon mitigation contractor. Like other contractors you would hire for your home, these are highly trained and state-certified professionals who can help you reduce your radon level by up to 99%.

    Organizations like the National Radon Safety Board can help you to find a radon mitigation specialist near you.

    Radon test kit prices

    The majority of the short-term radon testing kits are moderately priced, usually falling in the $10 to $20 range. A standard kit should include the testing device, a mailer, and cover the lab testing fees. As mentioned, some kits even include postage to the lab, which can save you a bit on the overall cost. Also note that some states may charge state fees, which may either be included in the overall cost or tacked on as an additional fee.

    Check to verify whether your kit also ships with any form of warranty, in case you are unhappy with the product.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Radon can actually be produced from the breakdown of several different radioactive metals, including radium, thorium, and uranium.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    The recommended level of radon in your home should not exceed four picocuries per liter of air.

    Tips

    • Subsequent radon tests should be conducted in the same location as the original test in order to receive a consistent idea of the actual radon level.

    • Short-term radon test kits must sit out for anywhere from 24 hours to a week to build up a radon reading. Go through your documentation carefully so you will know long to leave the kit to receive an accurate result.

    • When running a radon test, avoid using any fans or other air intake devices that bring in air from outside.

    • Some kits let you check test results online, which can speed up your results.

    • If you’re planning on building a new home, be sure that your contractor will be using techniques and materials to keep your new home as radon-resistant as possible.

    • Passive, short-term radon test kits are usually less expensive and can rely on several different mechanisms, such as charcoal canisters, to operate. Professional-grade radon kits are more expensive and powered by battery or electricity, but they can give you hourly readings of your home’s radon levels.

    • You should plan on retesting your home for radon after any significant remodeling jobs and even after nearby construction.

    • You will receive a more accurate reading of you suspend the test kit three to five feet above the floor of your basement.

    • If you plan to sell your home, test for radon and correct any high readings before listing it. A high radon reading can quickly sour a sale.

    Other products we considered

    In addition to the short-term radon testing kits, you also have access to a number of more expensive, handheld-based models that can help you keep track of radon in your home. Airthings’ Corentium Home Radon Detector is one of the priciest of these, but it can provide you with results within 24 hours. This is a great option for those who need to retest frequently. Family Safety Products, Inc. offers the Safety Siren Pro Series3 Radon Gas Detector, which will continuously monitor gas levels. It also is equipped with a probe to slip into cracks and other areas where radon lurks. Finally, Air Ae Steward’s Portable Radon Monitor not only provides you with radon level updates every hour, but it will also help to interpret the reading.

    Radon levels can vary considerably by region, from extremely low in regions of the south such as Louisiana and Mississippi to much higher in the Pacific Northwest.

    FAQ

    Q. I don’t have a basement. Should I still test for radon?

    A. Yes, you should if you fear that you might have elevated radon levels. Radon can seep up through a number of typical housing features, including exposed pipes, so you should be testing the lowest level that you live in.

    Q. How often should I test? Is this a “one and done” sort of thing?

    A. The recommendation is that you should test every one to two years if you suspect that you may have a radon problem. As mentioned, the EPA also recommends that every time you test you do two back-to-back tests in order to produce a decent average.

    Q. How can I minimize my chances of being affected by radon?

    A. First, don’t smoke. Smoking combined with radon can greatly increase your risk for lung cancer. While drastic, spending less time in your house can minimize your risk, as can spending less time in the lower levels of your home. Don’t burn fuels like wood or coal, as this can add to the number of particles in the air. Sealing all cracks and holes in the floors and walls of your lower levels can minimize the risk, as can increasing the airflow in your home.

    The team that worked on this review
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