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Home > Home Buying Tips > Should you Test for Radon before you Buy a Home

Should you Test for Radon before you Buy a Home?


Most prospective home buyers are aware of the need to hire a home inspector and a pest inspector when they are considering the purchase of a home, but many may not be aware of the need to have a radon test performed. A relatively simple test; radon testing measures air quality in a home for a span of two to three days in most cases, although longer tests can be conducted. The cost for such a test is usually around $100 and while that might seem like a lot to some home buyers, it is definitely not something that should be overlooked. While radon can be dangerous, there are simple solutions that can resolve such problems.

Why Radon Testing?

Why exactly is radon testing so important? Radon is a type of radioactive gas that can be found in homes throughout the country. Radon is actually produced when uranium that is present in rock, water and soil begins to break down naturally. The problem comes in when it seeps into the air. In most instances, radon travels upward through the soil into the air and can then make its way into homes through holes or cracks within the foundation. This can occur even if a home does not have a basement. Radon can then become trapped in the home and over time radon levels can begin to accumulate and become elevated in the home.

Outdoor air quality typically has an average rating of 0.4 pCi/L. Indoors, the average level of radon in air quality is approximately 1.3 pCi/L. For quite some time now the goal has been to take measures that would have indoor air quality be equivalent to that of outdoor air quality. While technology is not currently available to realize this goal, there are some construction methods that can help to prevent radon from making its way into homes.

Approximately 6% of all homes in the United States are believed to have elevated radon levels; meaning they are in excess of 4 pCi/L. This can be quite problematic and even dangerous due to the fact that radon has been documented as being the second leading cause of lung cancer in the nation. Even worse, it is impossible to smell or see radon. The only way to actually know whether a home has elevated levels of radon is through testing. Both the Surgeon General as well as the EPA recommend that all homes be tested for the presence of radon.

When to Radon Test

Test results that are taken from other neighborhood homes should never be relied upon when it comes to radon. This is because even homes that are located next to one another can have varying levels of indoor radon. In addition, you should be aware that even if you are purchasing a home that has previously been tested for radon, it is a good idea to consider having a retest performed under certain circumstances. For instance, if the radon test was not performed within the prior two years, you should have it retested. You should also have it retested if the home has significant changes made to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems since the last test or if it was renovated in any other way since the last radon test. You should also have radon testing performed if you have plans to occupy the basement area of the home. Finally, you should also have retesting performed if there is any reason to believe that the prior test was not properly performed or if the test results were considered to be borderline.

Once you have a radon test performed, if the results are elevated, do not immediately panic. There are radon mitigation systems available on the market today that are highly effective and relatively inexpensive that can help to resolve this problem.

You should also be aware that radon can also be present in well water. If the home you are considering purchasing is supplied by well water you will need to have it treated with what is known as a point of entry system or through a point of use system. This is another simple, but effective solution that can protect your family from the dangers of radon.

Radon testing is a relatively inexpensive and simple process; however, it is something that should be given the proper attention. Having a simple radon test performed can ensure that you and your family are not subjected to dangerous radon levels.


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