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More and more, home buyers and renters are asking about radon levels before they buy or rent a home. Because real estate sales happen quickly, there is often little time to deal with radon and other issues. The best thing to do is to test for radon NOW and save the results in case the buyer is interested in them. Fix a problem if it exists so it won't complicate your home sale. If you are planning to move, call your
state radon office for EPA’s pamphlet "Home Buyer's and Seller's Guide to Radon," which addresses some common questions.
You can also use the results of two short-term tests done side-by-side (four
inches apart) to decide whether to fix your home.
During home sales:
- Buyers often ask if a home has been tested, and if elevated levels were reduced.
- Buyers frequently want tests made by someone who is not involved in the home sale. Your
state radon office can assist
you in identifying a qualified tester.
- Buyers might want to know the radon levels in areas of the home (like a basement they plan to finish) that the seller might not otherwise test.
Today many homes are built to prevent radon from coming in. Your state or local area may require these radon-resistant construction features.
If you are buying or renting a new home, ask the owner or builder if it has
radon-resistant features. The EPA recommends building new homes with
radon-resistant features in high radon potential (Zone 1) areas. Even if built radon-resistant,
every new home should be tested for radon after occupancy. If you have a
test result of 4 pCi/L or more, you can have a qualified mitigator easily add a
vent fan to an existing passive system for about $300 and further reduce the
radon level in your home. For more information, refer to
EPA’s Map of Radon Zones and other useful EPA
documents on radon-resistant new construction (visit www.epa.gov/radon)
There are two main sources for the radon in your home's indoor air, the soil and the
water supply. Compared to radon entering the home through water, radon entering
your home through the soil is usually a much larger risk.
The radon in your water supply poses an inhalation risk and an ingestion risk.
Research has shown that your risk of lung cancer from breathing radon in air is
much larger than your risk of stomach cancer from swallowing water with radon in
it. Most of your risk from radon in water comes from radon released into
the air when water is used for showering and other household purposes.
Radon in your home's water is not usually a problem when its source is surface
water. A radon in water problem is more likely when its source is ground
water, e.g. a private well or a public water supply system that uses ground
water. If you are concerned that radon may
be entering your home through the water and your water comes from a public water
supply, contact your water supplier.
If you've tested your private well and have a radon in water
problem, it can be fixed. Your home's water supply can be treated
in two ways. Point-of-entry treatment can effectively remove radon from
the water before it enters your home. Point-of-use treatment devices
remove radon from your water at the tap, but only treat a small portion of the
water you use and are not effective in reducing the risk from breathing radon
released into the air from all water used in the home.
For more information, call EPA's Drinking Water Hotline at (800)
426-4791 or visit
Local Drinking Water Information If your water comes from a
private well, you can also contact your state radon office.
Since there is no known safe level of radon, there can always be some risk. But the risk can be reduced by lowering the radon level in your home.
There are several proven methods to reduce radon in your home,
but the one primarily used is a vent pipe system and fan, which pulls radon from
beneath the house and vents it to the outside. This system, known as a
soil suction radon reduction system, does not require major changes to your home.
Sealing foundation cracks and other openings makes this kind of system more
effective and cost-efficient. Similar systems can also be installed in houses with crawl spaces. Radon contractors
can use other methods that may also work in your home. The right system depends on the design of your home and other factors.
Ways to reduce radon in your home are discussed in EPA's "Consumer's Guide to Radon Reduction." You can get a copy from your
state radon office.
The cost of reducing radon in your home depends on how your home was built and the extent of the radon problem. Most homes can be fixed for about the same cost as other common home repairs. The average house costs about $1,200 for a contractor to fix, although this can range from about $800 to about $2,500.
The cost is much less if a passive system was installed during construction.
If you are planning any major structural renovation, such as converting an unfinished basement area into living space, it is especially important to test the area for radon before you begin the renovation. If your test results indicate a radon problem, radon-resistant techniques can be inexpensively included as part of the renovation. Because major renovations can change the level of radon in any home, always test again after work is completed.
Lowering high radon levels requires technical knowledge and special skills. You should use a contractor who is trained to fix radon problems.
A qualified contractor can study the radon problem in your home and help you pick the right treatment method.
Check with your state radon office for
names of qualified or state certified radon contractors in your area. You
can also contact private radon proficiency programs for lists of privately
certified radon professionals in your area. For more information on
radon proficiency programs, visit
Radon Proficiency Handbook Picking someone to fix your radon problem is much like choosing a contractor for other home repairs - you may want to get references and more than one estimate.
If you are considering fixing your home's radon problem
yourself, you should first contact your state radon office for
guidance and assistance.
You should also test your home again after it is fixed to be sure that radon levels have been reduced. Most
soil suction radon reduction systems include a monitor that will indicate
whether the system is operating properly. In addition, it's a good idea to retest your home
every two years to be sure radon levels remain low.
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