Monday, November 29, 2021

January Is National Radon Action Month

January is National Radon Action Month!  In addition to educating ourselves and others about radon, the EPA wants us to spread the word!  So, here I go, spreading the word!

What Is Radon?

Radon is an invisible, odorless gas that when present at high levels in your home can be dangerous to your health.  The EPA and the Surgeon General’s Office say that it is the second leading cause of lung cancer.  Radon forms when uranium in rocks and soil naturally decays.  Out in the open, the gas can dissipate.  When trapped in a home, it can build to dangerous levels.

What Is a Dangerous Level?

The EPA recommends that any level equal to or greater than 4.0 picocuries per liter of air be fixed or “remediated”.

How Do You Find Out What Your Level Is?

Easy—you do a test.  You can buy your own at the local home improvement store for less than $20 and send it to a lab.  You will get your results in about a week.  Or, you can hire someone to perform the test for you.  They will either place charcoal canisters or do a continuous air monitoring test.  I prefer the continuous air monitoring test because of more readily-available test results, the test can’t be tampered with, and with the way the test results are given you can correlate any events (like a rain storm) that may have elevated the readings during the time period of the test.   Before I purchased my home, I did a charcoal test (which came back high) and double-checked the findings with a continuous air monitor test (which came back higher).

How Do You Fix It?

radon system
My radon system lurking in a corner of the basement.

Install a radon mitigation system.  The system will take the air from your crawlspace or below your slab and vent it to

the exterior where it can dissipate.  A qualified company will take a look at your home and recommend the best system for you.  After system installation, they retest and confirm results below 4.0.  Your job after installation is to

check regularly to make sure that the fan on the system still functions.  I also recommend additional radon testing periodically (yearly or every other year) to confirm that the levels are still being maintained below 4.0.

The Two Big Questions

The two questions I get most often are how much does it cost to install a system and should I buy a house with high radon or a radon mitigation system?

How Much Does a System Cost?

I have found that for most people, the cost of the system really isn’t an issue. There’s no expensive tear out, clean up, or rebuilding, like with mold or water damage.  Really, you have just the cost of installing the system, and the price of those can vary depending on the size of the fan and who is doing the work.  For the median size house in our area, I would expect a system to cost no more than a couple of thousand dollars.  Many home buyers ask the sellers to install the system or cover the cost of the system, and many home sellers agree to do this.

Should You Buy a House with High Radon or a Radon Mitigation System?

I don’t freak out about it (anymore) and you shouldn’t either.  There are some areas of the country where it is not unusual to find high radon in most houses.  Wake Forest is one of those areas, and buyers who want to live in Wake Forest should prepare for this.  While purchasing my home, I spoke with an industrial hygienist friend who did radon testing and remediation for a living.  My concern was “what if the high radon can’t be fixed and I’m stuck with an unsellable house?”  My friend assured me that she had seen much higher levels where she works in the Midwest and that she had never had a case where she had not been able to get the levels to below 4.0.  Sometimes it took putting in more than one system and fan, but it was always do-able.  Whew!

As to moving into a home that already has a system?  Better to know of a problem and already have it addressed than to be unaware of the problem and not have it addressed!  In the end, the decision will be up to you.  There are a lot of great web sites out there for you to go to for research, and I encourage you to research it and find the right answers for you and your family.  As your Realtor, I will tell you that it will not negatively affect your resale time or your resale value in this area, as so many other houses have radon systems.

One Last Thing…

One last thing before I go…I have heard many people say that only homes with ________ can have high radon.  You can fill in the blank with “basements”, “crawlspaces”, or “slabs”.  It’s a myth that only certain homes can have high radon levels.  The truth is homes with basements, crawlspaces, and slabs can all have high radon levels.

If you’re in the process of purchasing a home, test for radon.  If you have owned your home for a while, test for radon occasionally, just to make sure nothing has changed!

Please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] or call me at 919-218-5872 if you have questions!

By:  Jeanette Stansbury

This post is from Pate Realty Group.

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