Radon Protocol

I am starting a radon test in a vacant home today & the home has no furnace.

I didnt see anything in the protocol that states that the furnace or air must be on.

I know there will be temperature & humidity swings as there is no constant temperature.

Is not having a furnace an issue with the potential for higher readings?


Closed house conditions does not require an operable furnace or HVAC.

It turns out this particular home had electric baseboard heat.


Heating appliances do not affect radon readings. As long as the house is closed up (windows and doors) the radon results will true.

Here’s a sign I leave at every home I perform a radon test in…
paperwork_radontesting1.doc (9.02 KB)


This prevents the homeowner from placing the lid back on the canister. I can tell if the canisters were tampered with anyways, it’s pretty simple to figure out by the actual readings.

The EPA Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon (http://www.epa.gov/radon/pdfs/hmbuygud.pdf), page 21, under the Radon Testing Checklist says:

“Operate the home’s heating and cooling systems normally during the test. For tests lasting less than one week, operate only air-conditioning units which recirculate interior air.”

For those not understanding why radon typically enters a home, it is called “Stack Effect”. When warm air inside the home naturally rises, a “void” is created in the lower parts of the structure. Thus, the house looks for makeup air to fill this void. It could be outside air coming under the door or leaky windows in the older house, but could also be through foundation cracks, cracks in the floor above crawl spaces, etc. where radon might be lying in wait. In the latter case, radon is sucked into the house and then slowly rises along with the warm air, so it gets circulated throughout the house. During cold weather, warm air rises faster inside and the suction increases, which is the major reason why radon levels in colder parts of the country rise in the winter. It is compounded when we keep all windows and doors shut tight or winterize the house to keep the cold air out, which means that the majority of the makeup air comes from soil gasses. (Moisture also comes along for the ride, which is why radon mitigation can also lower the musty, mildewy smells in the basement too.)

The point that I am trying to make is that failure to run heating and/or systems “normally”, could cause unusual air flow patterns inside. A false low reading, which could be blamed on the “expert” who did the radon test, could comeback to haunt you. Unless you’re into leaving your assests hanging out for the taking…I would advise that you carefully read and follow the testing protocols. (http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/)

Shawn Price
Air Chek, Inc.

To add to what Shawn has stated, by not operating the ‘normal’ heating source, which is the baseboard heaters, the natural convection that is normally present during the heating cycle will not be present. Whether it will cause a false high or low reading isn’t as relevant as it not being a true reading.

Does the state of OH have licensing for radon measurement? Protocol is strongly taught in the measurement course, and I remember several NEHA test questions regarding protocol.

the most common way radon enters is when indoor air pressure which is usually lower then outdoor pressure draws air for soil,bedrock,drainage system into the house pressure differences Will make radon laden air move from a area of higher pressure to a lower pressure ( just like Gravity) this is called pressure driven transport, radon can also enter when there are no pressure differences radon Will do the same thing spread out from a higher concentration to a lower concentration until they are equal this is called diffusion driven transport also when air escapes from a house (ex filtration)air pressure differentials are created the result is air being pulled into the house (infiltration) to replace the air that has left the air may be drawn out by mechanical appliances such as furnaces etc, or by rising warm air either way soil gas is pulled into the house, sometimes between the point at which the air leaves at the top & enetrs at the bottom ia a level where there is no airflow between indoor & outdoor air this is the neutral pressure plane, if the leaks were uniformly spread over the whole house this neutral pressure plane would be half way up the wall this plane is frequently found within a few inches of the top floor ceiling, which means may homes have very leaky ceiling areas. mechincal devices should not change this


You are indeed correct about the pressure-driven flow. I wouldn’t argue with that. I was giving an example of something that can change the pressures, since the lack of operational heat started this thread. However, I would say a house at 40 degrees in 40 degree outdoor weather will have less stack effect than when it is a cozy 70 degrees inside during the same 40 degree weather. Obviously wind and other factors will alter the pressures, but the indoor/outdoor temperature difference is a factor that should be addressby following EPA protocols and running the heat/air systems normally.

In the SW US, you can find ductwork running under the slab, so there the appliances can pull soil gas into the house when they operate. But that is another issue altogether.

Shawn Price
Air Chek, Inc.