PRO-TEC Home Inspections

800-776-8327
PO Box 363
Stephenson, Michigan 49887

Radon Information

 

 

There are cracks in the foundation. Nothing structural. Nothing thats going to threaten the stability of the home, but they’re there. Nooks, crannies and holes through which seeps an invisible threat. Colorless, odorless and undetectable by your average human, it is none the less the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.

RADON GAS - even the name sounds ominous, evoking images of radiation and nuclear devastation is created when uranium in the soil decays. The gas then seeps through any access point into a home. Common entry points are cracks in the foundation, poorly sealed pipes, drainage or any other loose point.

Once in the home, the gas can collect in certain areas especially basements and other low-lying, closed areas and build up over time to dangerous levels. The Environmental Protection Agency of the US Government has set a threshold of 4 pico curies per liter as the safe level. As humans are exposed to the gas over a period of years, it can have a significant and detrimental effect.

How widespread is the problem? Radon has been found in homes in all 50 states. Certain areas are more susceptible than other( See http://www.epa.gov/radon/zonemap.html for a national radon zone map), but no location is immune. Concentrations of radon-causing materials in the soil can be either natural or man-made. Homes built near historic mining operations may be at higher risk. The only way to tell for sure is to have a home tested.

Typically the radon sampling device is left in the lowest level of the home which is normally occupied for a period of several days. This eliminates crawl spaces under the house, but includes finished or unfinished basements. The device is then sent overnight to a certified laboratory for analyzed by a professional with the results made available the same day the device arrives.

If high concentrations of radon are found in your home, you have several options. Since radon is only a problem when it is concentrated in high volume, improving the ventilation in an area is often sufficient to solve the problem.

In other cases, it may be necessary to limit the amount of radon getting into the home by sealing or otherwise obstructing the access points. Once again, a professional should be engaged to ensure that the radon is effectively blocked. Typical radon mitigation systems can cost between $800 and $2500, according to the EPA.

 

If youre buying or selling a home, radon can be a significant issue. Buyer’s should be aware of the radon risk in their area and determine whether a radon test is desirable. When in doubt, the EPA always recommends testing. The cost of the test can be built into the house price.

 

If test results already exist, make sure they are recent or that the home has not been significantly renovated since the test was performed. If in doubt, get a new test done. If youre selling a home, having a recent radon test is a great idea. By being proactive, you can assure potential buyers that there is no risk and avoid the issue from the start.

 

So whether you have an old home or a new one, live in an old mining town or in the middle of the Great Plains, radon is a reality. But it is a reality that we can live with. Proper testing and mitigation can eliminate radon as a health threat.

Larry Wall is the only area Home Inspector that has been certified by the National Radon Safety Board as a Radon Sampling Technician.  Contact Larry today at 1-800-776-8327 to schedule your radon test.

For more information, visit the EPA web site on radon at http://www.epa.gov/radon. 

Radon Myths and Facts

MYTH: 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: Radon testing is difficult, time-consuming and expensive.

FACT: Radon testing is easy and inexpensive. 

MYTH: Radon testing devices are not reliable and are difficult to find.

FACT: Reliable testing devices are available from qualified radon testers and companies. 

MYTH: Homes with radon problems can’t be fixed.

FACT: There are simple solutions to radon problems in homes. Hundreds of thousands of homeowners have already fixed radon problems in their homes. Radon levels can be readily lowered for $800 to $2,500 (with an average cost of $1,200)..

MYTH: Radon affects only certain kinds of homes.

FACT: House construction can affect radon levels.  However, 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: 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.

MYTH: A neighbor’s test result is a good indication of whether your home has a problem.

FACT: It’s not. Radon levels can vary greatly from home to home. The only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test it.

MYTH: It’s difficult to sell homes where radon problems have been discovered.

FACT: Where radon problems have been fixed, home sales have not been blocked or frustrated. The added protection is some times a good selling point.

MYTH: I’ve lived in my home for so long, it doesn’t make sense to take action now.

FACT: You will reduce your risk of lung cancer when you reduce radon levels, even if you’ve lived with a radon problem for a long time.

MYTH: Short-term tests can’t be used for making a decision about whether to fix your home.

FACT: A short-term test, followed by a second short-term test* can be used to decide whether to fix your home. However, the closer the average of your two short-term tests is to 4 pCi/L, the less certain you can be about whether your year-round average is above or below that level. Keep in mind that radon levels below 4 pCi/L still pose some risk.  Radon levels can be reduced in most homes to 2 pCi/L or below.