Why Bother Testing for Radon When Buying a House?

Do I really need to bother testing for radon? The top questions are answered regarding the need to test for radon when buying your next home.

“Radon, really? Do I REALLY need to bother testing for radon or is that some kind of ‘conspiracy’ to spend more of my money when purchasing a house?”

I get asked this question a lot. Usually included with a look of skepticism on my client(s) faces when we get to the inspection period of the home buying process. BUT, believe it or not, this is a test that proves “better safe than sorry”. So let me try to answer the top questions in an effort to unfurl the brows and give you peace of mind in deciding to have this test done before buying your next home (and in honor of January being Radon Awareness month *grin* )…

First, what is it?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can build up anywhere and anytime in the home causing cancer. Typically with folks staying indoors more often during January and the winter months (SW Florida included during their chilly time) the EPA recommends testing your home every two years; AND especially when purchasing a home new to you since this gas can be a silent killer.

Radon is responsible for 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year. As well as, 58 deaths per day. These statistics show that it’s not to be taken lightly.

Radon is invisible, tasteless, and odorless. Almost impossible to detect on your own. Exposure is entirely preventable and easy to test for any harmful levels that may be present in the home.

Okay, but how does it get there?
As mentioned before, Radon is a naturally occurring gas and comes from the natural breakdown (radioactive decay) of uranium. It’s usually found in igneous rock and soil, but in some cases well water may also be a source of Radon.

The following diagram indicates how Radon can enter the home:
How radon enters a house

You can also look over the states or Radon zones provided by the EPA to see whether your area lends itself to higher or lower levels of Radon:
EPA Radon Zones (with State Information)

I get it, I get it. So what do I do?
Testing is the only way to know if Radon is present in the home. Testing kits can be purchased at your local hardware store. If you hire a company to test, they MUST be a Florida certified radon measurement business/individual. It usually entails placing the Radon test box in a designated area of the house for a few days and then shipped to a lab for analysis. If the Radon level is 4pCi/L (picocuries per liter) or higher, fix the house. Less than 4pCi/L doesn’t typically pose a concern.

If you’re building or buying a new construction house, you can inquire as to whether radon-resistant construction features were used and the house tested. The following resources are provided by the EPA for home buyers and sellers:
Radon Resources for Home Buyers and Sellers

What if the test comes back with high levels?
If the Radon test comes back showing high levels, it’s recommended to consult a radon mitigator for next steps – typically retesting.

Can high levels of radon be fixed?
Yes. Depending on what the radon mitigator determines, the fix can be as easy as ventilation and sealing of cracks in the floor if lower levels are detected. Other situations may require active mitigation systems, that usually involve soil depressurization, ranging from $1200 to $2000 installed; and in some instances over $3000.

Hopefully this shed some light on this dry topic. If you still have questions, feel free to call or message me.

Florida Health shares that although testing IS recommended, 1 in 5 tests done in Florida are elevated. Have you had an elevated test or a scary brush with Radon you’d like to share in the comments below? Would love to hear the stories.

* Courtesy of  radon.com , floridahealth.gov, and United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).