Is Radon Higher In Vacant Homes?

Radon is a naturally occurring gas. It is fatal if allowed to build up though there is no stipulated level that can be deemed dangerous. Exposure to radon for a long time can pose several risks such as lung cancer.  Many often worry about the radon levels in vacant homes more so if the house has been closed up for an extended period. They become worrisome wondering if abandoning the house has led to a surge in the levels of this cancer-causing gas. This results in increased calls to mitigation and electrical services from homeowners inquiring about the same. It has been subject to long boring debates in recent times as it is quite a blurry area lacking sufficient clarity. Many have therefore resulted in incorrect inferences about this murky topic. This article shall therefore lift the veil and elucidate on the same to alleviate any concerns and give ample comfort to homeowners.

Natural Convection

Presence of radon gas in the air

Most experts have stated that it might be quite difficult to predict whether radon will normally be higher or lower in vacant homes. This can be attributed to several varied factors that could result in an increment in the levels of radon or conversely to lower levels below the expected standard or average.  At the outset, it is vital to learn about the simple process of natural convection. This enhances circulation and ensures that there is a constant exchange of air in the house every 6 to 8 hours. This is also readily attained using your HVAC system.

Demystifying Myth around Radon Tests

It is custom that whenever a radon test is to be performed, the testing company will duly instruct you to ensure that your house has proper closed conditions 12 hours preceding the conduct of the test and the subsequent 48 hours following the test. A vacant house is also expected to have closed windows and the HVAC system is preferably set to auto hence implying that there will be close to no circulation of fresh air.

Open windows are quite a sizeable inlet that could potentially result in an influx of radon gas through a major stack effect. Others have posited that there will be no noticeable variations in a house that has been closed up for the 12 hours pre-testing and the subsequent 48 hours following the test and one that has been actually closed for half a year. This is quite an implication as it sheds some light on the confusing notion that radon levels often escalate in a vacant house thus impacting the accuracy of any radon test conducted therein. This is wrong and farcical since radon typically has a very limited half-life and its particles are constantly being renewed in a cyclic fashion. The radon test in a vacant house, therefore, has the same accuracy and veracity as one performed in an occupied house, all factors remaining constant.

Cracks and Crevices

Radon can also penetrate the house through cracks and crevices in the home’s foundation unless special measures have been employed to prevent and regulate the same. Other factors might affect the radon levels and they remain alien to many. Variations in air pressure in the soil and in the house can also affect the entry of radon in the house.


As mentioned above, leaving the windows open contributes to the increase of radon in the house. This necessitates the creation of proper ventilation in order to eliminate the need of leaving the windows open.

Radon can enter a house in several ways. This is regardless of whether the home is occupied or not. The myth surrounding radon tests has also been adequately debunked. The accuracy of tests in both an occupied and a vacant house is similar and this cannot be understated. Premised on the foregoing, a vacant house will not necessarily result in an increase in radon levels. This is because many factors come into play regarding this delicate subject and all have to be put into consideration. Radon is a naturally occurring gas that can be eliminated through natural convection or through an HVAC system even when the house is vacant. The simplistic conclusion that radon ought to be high in a vacant house is quite misplaced and cannot suffice. Necessary testing, therefore, has to be done to mitigate these levels and prevent any possibility of risk. If you want to get the best possible results out of your radon test, be sure to work with the right experts.