Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


What is radon?

Radon is a hazardous and radioactive gas that is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. It is naturally occurring, coming from the decay of uranium in the Earth’s crust.

Does radon smell?

Radon does not smell and can only be detected with a radon test.

How dangerous is radon?

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and the leading cause of the disease among nonsmokers. It is responsible for 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year in the U.S.

Where does radon gas come from?

Radon gas comes from the breakdown of naturally-occurring uranium elements in the earth’s crust and has been found at elevated levels all over the world. It is prevalent in low concentrations outdoors averaging about 0.8 pCi/L in open outdoor spaces, posing little threat. However, radon can accumulate to elevated levels indoors through cracks in a building’s foundation, water sources, sump pumps, and other entry points. When radon is trapped indoors at elevated levels, it can cause damage to your lungs when breathed, and is known to be the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

Where is your greatest exposure to radon?

While radon is present everywhere, and there is no known safe level, your greatest exposure is where it can concentrate – indoors, where you spend most of your time – at home. Your home can have radon whether it be old or new, well-sealed or drafty, and with our without a basement.

What is an Acceptable Level of Radon Gas?

The EPA action level for radon is 4.0 pCi/L (picocuries per liter of air), which is the level at which it is recommended to have a mitigation system installed. This is the point at which the EPA has determined your risk of exposure outweighs the cost to mitigate and it has been used to determine the threshold of acceptable everyday exposure by most municipalities and local building codes. It is important to keep in mind that even trace amounts of radon can still cause damage to lung cells when breathed. It’s important to accurately measure and take the necessary steps to protect those in your home or workplace. The only way to know the radon levels in any home or building is to conduct a radon test.

How can radon testing help?

Radon testing is a reliable and effective way to detect the presence and concentration of radon gas. Without a radon test, you could be breathing in harmful levels of the radioactive gas without knowing it. If detected, foundations can be sealed and the gas can be removed with proper mitigation done by qualified professionals.

How often should I test for radon?

Every home should be tested for radon.

You should retest your home every 2 – 5 years and save your results.

Be sure to test before and after you make any major structural renovations such as building and addition or finishing a basement. Radon-resistant techniques can be inexpensively included as part of the renovation, if needed.

You should also perform a radon test after buying a new heating system or adding central air conditioning.

Do you test commercial properties?

Yes, we offer commercial radon testing services in all 50 U.S. states and territories. One of the easiest ways to ensure the safety of your employees, tenants, and other stakeholders is to test the air in your building(s) for radon gas to know if mitigation is necessary. The dangers of radon can affect us all, and in large buildings, the risks are compounded – especially for business owners when it comes to their liability. If you live or work in a large building, talk to your property management team about testing the building for radon gas.

Do you test schools?

Yes. We work with school administrators across the U.S. to test for radon and understand the risk of radon gas exposure in their facilities where students, faculty, and staff could be exposed.

Do you test daycares?

Yes. Testing for radon gas in daycares is straightforward and cost effective. In some states, radon testing is required as part of your license and certification requirements. Testing in daycares is crucial for understanding the radon exposure risk in your facility for the safety of children and staff in your care. 

What happens if the test detects radon in my home, school or commercial space?

Protect Environmental will provide the results and help you through next steps if mitigation is needed. If radon is detected at elevated levels, removing it from the home is a straightforward process. Following the installation of your radon mitigation system, it is recommended to test the home every two years to ensure your radon mitigation system is working properly.

Will Radon Affect My Home in the Future?

If you buy or build a home that passes radon tests today, there is no guarantee that conditions will not change in the future. The EPA recommends testing your home every two years regardless of previous negative test results. If you need mitigation equipment, you may need to test every six months to ensure your system is working properly.

Who Can I Contact for More Help with Radon Mitigation?

It is not recommended to handle mitigation equipment installation on your own. Our certified radon mitigation specialists will guide you through the process of obtaining highly accurate test results and pinpointing the primary sources of the gas entrance.

Can Granite Countertops Release Radon?

Granite, like any natural stone used to build homes or decorate, contains many of the minerals that release radon gas from the soil. The sparkling crystals embedded in your countertops may include thorium and uranium, two minerals that release radioactive radon gas as they break down over time. The EPA says that granite countertops can release extremely small amounts of radon each year but don’t pose a serious or particular risk. There’s no need to remove your granite countertops just to reduce your radon levels.

What Should I Do If I Want to Sell a Home with High Radon Levels?

If you have previously tested high, you may want to install a mitigation system to make your home more attractive to buyers. 

Do Some Areas Have Higher Chances of Developing Radon Problems?

There is no part of the U.S. completely free of the risk of radon gas exposure. Yet there are also some states and regions that experience higher rates of exposure than others.

How do I know that my radon system is working? 

The only way is to conduct a radon test. The test should be done at least every two years. We recommend that you get a device that would monitor your house constantly and then also perform a test every two years to confirm the accuracy of the daily monitor. Also check your U-tube (vacuum gauge) periodically to ensure that the fan is working properly.

Why does the radon fan have to be outside my home?

By regulation, radon fans must be located outside of the conditioned space of the home.

Why does the exhaust pipe go up to the roof?

The regulation stipulates that the exhaust must extend above the roofline. The idea is to keep the exhaust gas from coming back into the house or impinging on patios, walkways, play areas, etc.

Why doesn’t the system have a cap or screen? Won’t rain and bugs get in?

As long as the system is running, the air exiting the pipe keeps rain and bugs out. Caps and other diverters can cause freeze-up problems from condensation when it’s cold out. Radon systems can expel hundreds of gallons of water vapor each year.

Can the exhaust pipe be disguised by using downspout instead of PVC?

PVC piping is the most suitable material for the job. Metal downspouts are not intended to be used for gas exhaust applications, and the joints cannot be permanently sealed (they require frequent re-sealing). Downspouts also tend to ice up in the winter, disabling the system just when you need it the most.

If you cover my sump, how can I tell if the pump is working? How can I fix it if it fails?

Our standard sump covers are transparent, so you can shine a flashlight into the sump pit to verify that the sump is working.

Can’t I just seal my sump pump and floor cracks to keep radon out?

If it were only that easy! Radon will travel right through a concrete floor. Your house is always forcing air into itself through the amount of pressure it exerts on the ground, barometric pressure, temperature differences and convective airflow.

Is resealing my ground water sump pit really necessary after servicing or replacement?  

Yes. The effectiveness of the radon system will be compromised if the sump pit cover is not properly re-sealed.

What kind of caulk do you use to seal cracks and the sump pit cover?

Using silicone caulk sealant is the best. It has the best elasticity and remains flexible longer than polyurethane caulk sealant. Contractors using latex caulk are not providing the best longevity for reproducible radon reduction.

What is the U-tube (manometer, vacuum gauge) for?

The U-tube manometer, or vacuum gauge, primarily indicates the vacuum pressure inside the radon system. This will let you know if the radon fan is working or not. If the tops of the red or blue liquid are equal, the fan may not be working or may have been turned off.

The U-tube can also indicate if your ground water sump is working properly. If there are elevated levels of ground water under the concrete floor, the U-tube would indicate a rise in the vacuum (greater difference in the two levels of red or blue liquid). It would then be a good idea to check to see if your ground water sump pump is working.

Does the U-tube on the system indicate the radon levels? 

No, the U-tube on the radon system does not indicate radon levels. Only a radon test can indicate the levels of radon.

My U-tube is equal, what does this mean? 


      • There’s no power to system

      • The fan has failed

      • The U-tube came loose from primary suction point pipe

    My liquid in the U-tube is not as originally marked, what does this mean?

    This can mean the following:


        • The fan has failed

        • The sump seal is broken

        • Caulking around the primary or secondary suction point(s) has failed

        • There is a tear in the crawl space membrane

        • The U-tube has become dislodged or has failed

        • Suction point or exhaust pipe is blocked

      What is a vibration collar and why is it so important?

      Radon systems operate 24/7. If the home has lap siding (vinyl, aluminum, cedar), it is more susceptible to noise transfer. A radon system with vibration collars will provide you with the quietest operation, less chance of being shut off and therefore providing the best lung cancer risk reduction.

      I hear a gurgling noise in the radon system. What does this mean? 

      That means that water is not draining away from the suction point. If you have a ground water sump pump, this might mean that you should inspect your sump pump to determine if the sump is working properly. If you do not have a sump pump, this means that additional ground water is collecting under your foundation. This might be caused by non-functioning gutters (clogged or not draining at least 10 feet away from the foundation wall.)

      There is a whistling noise coming from the radon system. What does this mean?

      This could mean that the caulking has failed along the suction point, wall/floor joints or floor cracks.

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