What is Radon? How Does It Get Into My Home?
Radon is a chemical element formed when uranium in water, rock, and soil begins to break down. This causes the release of radon gas into the dirt which could be beneath your house. It gets into your home through gaps and cracks in walls and floors, spaces around pipes that enter the house through the foundation, fireplaces and furnaces, exterior air vents and if you have well water, it can come in that way too. It’s heavier than air so it tends to collect in lower levels and basements.
So How Serious is This, Really?
Well, on one hand, we are around a certain amount of radon all the time; however, in the open air it tends to dissipate at a quicker rate. If it gets captured in the home, it is more concentrated and that’s where the problems start. Radon gas emits ionizing radiation which damages DNA and can cause cancer. It can be pretty serious, so your home should be tested regularly.
Although radon has been declared a national health problem, there are no real federal or state standards that mandate taking care of the problem. The EPA has made the following recommendations:
- 4/pCi/L – is qualified as an “action” limit. It means fix your home now!
- 2 pCi/L – is qualified as “consider action.” It is strongly suggested you fix your home.
Since cleaning up radon issues can cost on average about $1,200, the EPA has not made it mandatory because of the burden to homeowners. However, they have made it known that this is NOT safe. Their studies also show that radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer. Over 20,000 people die each year because of this invisible radioactive gas.
For more information, take a look at the EPA’s online brochure: Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon.
How Do I Know If Radon is in My Home?
There are DIY kits you can purchase at any hardware store that you can use to test for radon at an average cost of $25 per kit. Make sure it is labeled “Meets EPA Requirements.” Be sure to follow the instructions carefully. Results take a couple of weeks for processing.
A better solution is to hire a professional to do electronic radon testing. It takes less time, provides better quality results, and you get the results back sooner because samples don’t have to send away to a lab. The average cost of testing is $110. If you do have an radon issue in your home, the same company can also perform the mitigation services.
If I Have an Issue with Radon, What Do I Do?
If you have a radon level anywhere near 4 pCi/L, you should take steps as soon as you can to reduce the level. The good news is that installing a removal system will vent the radon gas from beneath your home immediately, eliminating 99% of the radon. You should always solicit the help of a certified radon mitigation service to install the removal system. They can also assess the points of origin where the radon gas may be getting in your home and repair them.
How Often Should I Test My Home for Radon?
If you’ve never had your home tested, do a long-term test as soon as you can. Also, the first round of tests should be performed in two different heating and cooling seasons. Maybe do one in the spring and one in the fall for best results. After that, every 2 years is fine under normal circumstances.
Exceptions to this guideline may occur if you have had any major changes to your home; renovations, ventilation changes, earthquakes, and ground settling can all lead to changes in radon gas levels. Also, if your living arrangements change and you find you are spending more time in the lower level or basement of the home.
Testing for radon is fairly inexpensive (on average $12 per test), so why not give yourself peace of mind? You’ll rest and breathe easier knowing that the air in your home-sweet-home is safe.
Contact Us for More Information
At Linda Craft & Team, REALTORS®, we have over 30 years of real estate experience in the Greater Raleigh area. Whether you are buying a home or selling a home, allow us to equip you with our wealth of knowledge and homeownership advice, from information about radon and other home hazards to a vast network of recommended service providers. Schedule an appointment with us today by calling 919-235-0007.