Radon cannot be seen or smelled, so the use of a device that detects the presence of radon is required. Radon kits can be ordered from laboratories and other services, however due to the importance of the testing, it’s recommended that a qualified radon tester be hired. These testers are often home inspectors. When testing your home for radon, they will use one of two common types of radon testing to detect the presence of radon in your home: passive and active.
Passive Radon Detection Devices
These devices are considered passive because they do not require the use of power to operate. Passive devices are exposed to the air in your home over a predetermined amount of time.
The key is the material that the testing element is made from. They’re normally sensitive to radon, and react to any trace amounts of it in the air. After the device has been in the home and exposed for the correct amount of time, it’s sent to a lab for analysis and results. Passive devices are quite affordable, but the data provided by them is an overall average of the total time the test was conducted.
Passive radon detectors can consist of any of the following, and all will have their own specifications for use:
- charcoal canisters
- charcoal liquid scintillation devices
- electret ion chamber detectors
Active Radon Detection Devices
Active radon detection devices require a power source in order to operate. Like the passive detection devices, the active detection devices are placed in an area where radon may be present.
However, unlike collecting data at the end of the time period like a passive device, active devices are able to continuously monitor the amount of radon and related substances in the air. They record this data for analysis at any given time, and can alert you to any instances in which higher levels occur. A qualified radon tester or home inspector can interpret and explain these results to you.
The cost for these devices and the services associated with them is higher than passive detection devices, but the active radon results are more detailed and given on a minimum hourly basis.
The two most common types of active radon detectors are the continuous radon monitor and the continuous working level monitor.