Once a home is under contract, the inspection process begins. A typical set of inspections include the home inspection, septic, water, termite, and radon. Over the years I have found that most people get a blank look on their face when we start talking about radon. They’ve never heard of it, they don’t know what it is or where it comes from, and they don’t understand the health risks. So let’s go over the basics.
Radon is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that comes from igneous rock and it is considered the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon levels can vary greatly depending on where you live, but in North Carolina we recognize the Surgeon General’s recommendation that a test reading should not exceed 4 pCi/l. In most cases, if the reading is over 4 pCi/l buyers will go back to the seller to request a mitigation system. Depending on the size of the home, access to a crawlspace, and other factors, a mitigation system runs about $2,000. While a reading of 4 pCi/l or less is the accepted level, it’s not uncommon to see readings much higher than that but those readings can be affected by several factors, including the weather. If a radon test result comes back unusually high, we recommend a second test. The tests are inexpensive and worth your peace of mind.
When a radon test kit is placed in your home, it’s extremely important that windows and doors remain closed during the testing period, which is usually 48-72 hours. If you are living in the home, it’s perfectly fine to come and go as you normally would but leaving windows and doors open will compromise the test results.
Radon mitigation is something any buyer should consider whether you are buying an existing home or building a new one. In our area most new home builders automatically include one in the building process, but not always, so be sure to ask.
Even if you aren’t in the market to buy or sell a home, it’s a good idea to understand radon and the risks associated with it. There are a number of good resources for in-depth information about radon, but this article from the Transylvania Times here in Brevard, North Carolina sums it up nicely.
(source: Transylvania Times, Brevard, NC)
January is National Radon Action Month and the U.S. Environmental Agency (EPA) encourages Americans around the country to test their homes for radon, the second leading cause of lung cancer.
Each year about 21,000 Americans die from lung cancer caused by exposure to radon. Testing is the only way to know if your home has an elevated level of radon. The U.S. Surgeon General and EPA recommend taking action to fix your home if the radon level is 4 picocuries per Liter of air or more. “Testing your home for radon is one of the easiest ways to help keep your family safe and healthy,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “Radon exposure is preventable. Test kits are inexpensive and readily available. Reducing exposure protects families, saves lives and avoids the health care costs of radon-caused lung cancer. Everyone who takes action helps to make America’s homes and schools safer for future generations.”
Affordable do-it-yourself radon test kits are available online, at many home improvement and hardware stores and are easy to use. You can also hire a qualified radon professional. If your home is found to have a high radon level, a professionally installed radon reduction system, using a vent pipe and exhaust fan, will remove the radon from beneath your home and discharge it outside. These systems are affordable, especially compared to the risk of lung cancer.
Taking action to reduce your exposure to radon is a long-term investment in your health and your home.
A working mitigation system is a positive selling point for homes on the market ; in many areas a radon test is a standard part of real estate transactions. If you’re building a new home, work with your builder to include radon-resistant construction techniques.
Radon reduction strategies are included in the National Radon Action Plan, which was launched in November 2015 by EPA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Health and Human Services and nine national non-governmental organizations. This partnership will help coordinate radon reduction efforts and resources with the goal of preventing 3,200 lung cancer deaths annually by 2020, through increased collaboration and consumer awareness strategies.
For more information on testing and obtaining a radon test kit, contact the state radon office at 1-800-SOS-RADON.
If you are buying or selling a home in western North Carolina, call the Clay Team today at 828-551-6290 or visit us online at BrevardNCProperty.com.