Radon Gas and Your Home

Real Estate

Radon is a dangerous radioactive gas. It’s actually invisible, and has no smell. According to the Surgeon General, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. 

Radon in Your Home

Radon gas has been found in many houses all over America. The EPA has recommended that you know the indoor radon level in any home that you are thinking about buying. You need to ask the home seller for their radon test results, or have a radon test performed yourself.

Remember, the test needs to be conducted by a qualified radon tester and always consider the following:

•  Find our who performed the previous test: was it a Radon professional?
•  Look at the results of all previous Radon tests.
•  Where in the house was the previous test was taken? If you plan to live in the lower level of the home, make sure the test was taken in the lowest level of the home.
•  Find out what structural changes have been made in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC). Changes could affect current radon levels.

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If you decide to accept the seller's test results, make sure the test followed the Radon Testing Checklist. If you want a new test performed, you need to discuss it with your attorney and Realtor as soon as possible. You can also ask your Realtor or home inspection company if they maintain a list of radon testing companies.

Consider Including These Provisions

•  Where in the home will the test will be located?
•  Who will be  conducting the test?
•  Exactly what type of test is being done?
•  When will the test be completed and ready for review?
•  When radon mitigation measures will be taken and who will pay for them.

Make sure that the test is done in the lowest level of the home, if it’s finished or not. If you decide to finish an unfinished area of the home in the future, a radon test should be taken before you start the project and then again after the project is completed. It is usually less expensive to install a radon-reduction system before renovations have been made.

Radon-resistant features vary for different foundations. If you're having a home built, the EPA's Model Standards and techniques should be explained to your builder if needed. If your new house was built (or will be built) to be radon-resistant, it will include these basic elements:

A. Gas Permeable Layer: 

This is put beneath the slab or flooring and it allows the soil gas to move freely under the house. In many cases, the material used is a 4-inch layer of clean gravel.

B. Plastic Sheeting: 

Plastic sheeting is placed on top of the gas permeable layer, and under the slab. This helps prevent the soil gas from entering into the house. In crawlspaces, the sheeting is placed over the crawlspace floor.

C. Sealing and Caulking: 

All openings in concrete foundation are sealed to reduce soil gas entry into the home.

D. Vent Pipe: 

A 3- or 4-inch gas-tight or PVC pipe runs from the gas permeable layer through the house to the roof to safely vent radon and other soil gases above the house.

E. Junction Box:

An electrical junction box is installed in case an electric venting fan is needed.

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