How to Check the Gases in Your Home

Time: 30 minutes

When winter comes and you close your house up tight, you could be putting your family at risk for increased exposure to dangerous gases that collect without the opportunity to escape through an open window. Radon, carbon monoxide and natural gas can all cause serious health problems and even death, so it's crucial to test the levels of these gases in your home to make sure your family's air is safe. Here's how to do it.

What's in it for you?

  • Better home air quality
  • Improved health and safety
  • Peace of mind

How to Check the Gases in Your Home:

  1. Purchase a DIY radon test kit: You can buy a short-term radon testing kit from your local hardware store to see if your home has elevated levels of radon, an odorless gas that has been linked to lung and other cancers. They're quite easy to use—just place one in the basement and one on the highest inhabited level of your home and allow it to collect radon molecules for two days. Kits typically contain prepaid envelopes to send your tests to a lab for your results. If you have high levels of radon in your home, you should call a radon abatement contractor to install a system that pumps gases out of your home.

  2. Check your appliances that use natural gas: There's a reason why natural gas smells like rotten eggs: the gas company adds that smell to alert you to leaks so you can fix the problem before a gas build-up can harm you and your family. Too much natural gas in your home could lead to asphyxiation and death, but you can inspect your appliances for leaks before a small problem becomes a life-or-death issue. Check your furnace, fireplaces and gas appliances for any whiff of natural gas smell. You should also listen closely for hissing sounds that could indicate a gas leak and have them repaired ASAP.

  3. Install a carbon monoxide detector: Carbon monoxide is another odorless gas that can collect in your home, and elevated levels can lead to death by suffocation. Faulty furnaces can leak this dangerous gas into your home, so winter is the right time to make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your house. The detector has an alarm that will alert you to harmful levels of carbon monoxide, which can happen anytime if emissions from your furnace go awry.

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