One of the inspections I would recommend for any home buyer to have performed on a home during the inspection period would be the Radon Detection.
What is Radon?
Radon is a radioactive gas that has been found in homes all over the United States. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Radon can also enter your home through well water. Your home can trap radon inside.
Any home can have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. In fact, you and your family are most likely to get your greatest radiation exposure at home. That is where you spend most of your time.
The following are some common myths regarding Radon.
MYTH #1: Scientists are not sure that radon really is a problem.
FACT: Although some scientists dispute the precise number of deaths due to radon, all the major health organizations (like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Lung Association and the American Medical Association) agree with estimates that radon causes thousands of preventable lung cancer deaths every year. This is especially true among smokers, since the risk to smokers is much greater than to non-smokers.
MYTH #2: Radon testing is difficult, time-consuming and expensive.
FACT: Radon testing is easy. You can test your home yourself or hire a qualified radon test company. Either approach takes only a small amount of time and effort.
MYTH #3: Homes with radon problems can’t be fixed.
FACT: There are simple solutions to radon problems in homes. Thousands of homeowners have already fixed radon problems in their homes. Most homes can be fixed for about the same cost as other common home repairs.
MYTH #4: Radon affects only certain kinds of homes.
FACT: Radon can be a problem in homes of all types: old homes, new homes, drafty homes, insulated homes, homes with basements, and homes without basements. Local geology, construction materials, and how the home was built are among the factors that can affect radon levels in homes.
MYTH #5: Radon is only a problem in certain parts of the country.
FACT: High radon levels have been found in every state. Radon problems do vary from area to area, but the only way to know your radon level is to test.
If you are already planning on having a building inspection performed, your inspector will probably be able to also conduct a radon test. Whoever you choose to perform the test, make sure the person is a qualified radon tester who knows the proper conditions, test devices, and guidelines for obtaining a reliable radon test result. This person should also be able to:
- Evaluate the home and recommend a testing approach designed to make sure you get reliable results.
- Explain how proper conditions can be maintained during the radon test.
- Emphasize to occupants of a home that a reliable test result depends on their cooperation. Interference with, or disturbance of, the test or closed-house conditions will invalidate the test result.
- Analyze the data and report measurement results.
What to Do if Radon Levels are High?
High Radon Levels Can be Reduced. EPA recommends that you take action to reduce your home’s indoor radon levels if your radon test result is 4 pCi/L or higher. It is better to correct a radon problem before placing your home on the market because then you have more time to address a radon problem.
If elevated levels are found during the real estate transaction, the buyer and seller should discuss the timing and costs of the radon reduction. The cost of making repairs to reduce radon levels depends on how your home was built and other factors. Most homes can be fixed for about the same cost as other common home repairs. Check with and get an estimate from one or more qualified mitigators.
How To Lower The Radon Level In Your Home
A variety of methods can be used to reduce radon in homes. Sealing cracks and other openings in the foundation is a basic part of most approaches to radon reduction. EPA does not recommend the use of sealing alone to limit radon entry. Sealing alone has not been shown to lower radon levels significantly or consistently.
In most cases, a system with a vent pipe(s) and fan(s) is used to reduce radon. These “sub-slab depressurization” systems do not require major changes to your home. Similar systems can also be installed in homes with crawl space. These systems prevent radon gas from entering the home from below the concrete floor and from outside the foundation. Radon mitigation contractors may use other methods that may also work in your home. The right system depends on the design of your home and other factors.
Techniques for reducing radon are discussed in EPA’s “Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction.” As with any other household appliance, there are costs associated with the operation of the radon-reduction system.