Radon Inspection Center
Before you buy or sell a home consider a radon inspection.
Radon is a radioactive gas caused by the natural breakdown of uranium in rocks, soil and water. It can seep into homes through cracks in a foundation or slab. You can’t see, smell or taste it, but prolonged exposure to high levels of radon is a health hazard.
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Q: What is radon?
A: Radon is a radioactive gas caused by the natural breakdown of uranium in rocks, soil and water. You can't see, smell or taste it, but prolonged exposure to high levels of radon is a health hazard. The U.S. Surgeon General has identified radon as the second leading cause of lung cancer.
Elevated levels of radon have been discovered in all types of buildings in every state. Generally, the northeast and central northern states have higher radon levels than the southeast, southwest and west. You can view your area's potential radon risk on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Map of Radon Zones. Keep in mind, though, that the EPA suggests that all homes be tested for radon, even in areas where the potential for radon is low. The EPA reports that nearly 1 in 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have an elevated radon level (4 pCi/L or more).
The most common entry point is through a building's foundation where the gas from radium in soil and bedrock can seep through cracks and holes in concrete and rise. If you use well water that has been contaminated, the gas can also be introduced into your home through drains, sump pumps, faucets, showers, and washing appliances.
Q: How do I determine radon levels?
A: Testing is the only way to determine radon levels. You can order a do-it-yourself test kit from a radon testing service. Short-term, long-term, and water testing kits are available for less than $50. Kits should meet Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements. Be sure to read the EPA's Home Buyer's and Seller's Guide to Radon before you begin.
You can also hire a radon inspector to test for you. If you do, make sure the inspector has been certified to test for radon. Most states require some form of certification. To learn more, see the EPA's contact information for your state.
Q: How much does radon mitigation cost?
A: Elevated radon levels can usually be corrected by sealing cracks and installing proper venting and fan systems. The average cost to reduce radon levels in existing building ranges from $800 to $2500. The estimated average cost to install radon-resistant features when building or renovating is between $350 and $500.
Be sure that the contractor you hire is certified to do radon mitigation in your state. If you need help, see the EPA's guidelines for finding a certified radon inspector.
Q: Who pays for a radon inspection?
A: Buyers generally pay for home inspections, including special inspections like radon testing. The buyer and seller can negotiate who will pay the mitigation costs if radon levels are high.
Q: What else should I consider in regards to a radon inspection?
A: When it comes to radon inspections consider the following:
- If you are buying a property, be sure to ask about radon levels, when the last test was conducted and whether it was handled by a state or privately-certified inspector.
- If you are not given an official copy of the results or an inspection has not been conducted, ask for one before you purchase the property.
- Since the presence of radon can be a liability when selling your home, it's wise to test for radon levels before you put the property on the market so that you can either fix the problem or present a positive report to potential buyers.
- Be sure to test in the lowest livable part of your home (whether you use it as a living space or not).