In this week’s Real Estate Tip of the Week, lets talk about Radon and what you should know about it when purchasing a home. To start, radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. It’s actually the second leading cause of lung cancer. You cannot see, smell or taste radon so it is something that is very easy to go undetected. When exposed to radon, there are no immediate symptoms that will alert you of its presence. It usually takes several years of exposure before you will see any health problems. Therefore, it is important to see if a high concentration exists when buying a home.
Radon typically enters a home through pores and cracks in the concrete foundation (the base/bottom of the house). Radon is measured in picocuries (pCi) and the average indoor concentration of radon is about 1.3 pCi/L. So it is common for radon to exist. It is just unsafe if the concentration is above 4 pCi/L. Roughly 1 in 15 homes have a concentration of radon above the EPA’s action level of 4 pCi/L so you shouldn’t be surprised if the house you submit a contract on has high levels of radon. Since it is so common, I always advise home buyers to order a radon test. Testing is the only way to know a home’s radon levels.
Radon tests are conducted at the time of the home inspection. They cost around $100 and take 2 days to perform. The home inspector will drop off a radon kit in the basement when they come for the home inspection and come back two days later to collect the results. If high levels of radon exist, it can often be mitigated fairly easily by installing a vent pipe system and fan that will pull the radon from beneath the house and disperse it outside. Typically, radon mitigation costs around $1,000 but varies depending on the house and situation.