Colorless and Odorless

A few weeks ago one of my listings, that was under contract, came up with a radon level of 21.0 pCi/L. The Seller found it hard to believe because he said they had tested the radon level when they purchased the house. That was several years ago though and it is important to know that radon levels can change over time. This isn’t the first time that I’ve been involved in a transaction where elevated levels of radon have been found. Due to the soil compositions in Maryland, elevated radon levels are not uncommon. You can read more about radon in Maryland here: Maryland Geological Survey – Radon.

WHAT? Radon is a radioactive gas that is colorless and odorless. It comes from the ground and concentrations of it can be found in your home and various other buildings. According to the EPA website (a great resource), the Surgeon General has said it is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. The EPA recommends that anything above 4.0 pCi/L be remediated.

FIX? Radon can be remediated with a radon reduction system. These systems, when installed, essentially pull the air (that contains radon gas) out from underneath the house and vents it out of your home. Prices can vary between $750-$1000 for a system here in Maryland. There are cases when it can cost more depending on the complexity of the situation – layout of the home, number of crawl spaces, etc. The systems consist of PVC piping and a fan/motor. The system can often times be placed inside a home without being visually noticed. On the exterior of a home you will typically see the fan and pipe running outside, but again, they will try to place it somewhere that is as least obtrusive as possible. Most companies guarantee their work until the radon level is below a certain “acceptable” level and most will offer a warranty for a certain amount of time, on the system itself.

An example of a radon system on the exterior of a home

An example of a radon system on the exterior of a home

HOW DO I KNOW? The best way to know what your radon levels are is to test for them. If you are purchasing a home, make sure a radon inspection is one of the inspections that you are going to do. Many home inspectors have the equipment to test for radon. If you are currently in a home and are curious what your levels are, you can hire a third party radon inspection company (one that doesn’t do radon remediation) to test for you. They will run the test for 48 hours and can have results to you within 24 hours of picking up the machine. You can also test for radon yourself by picking up a radon kit at a local hardware store – while this route costs less, you usually have to conduct the test for longer and it will also take longer for your results. If the results of your test come back high, according to the EPA standards, contact a radon remediation specialist to consult you on a system. If the levels come back “acceptable”, make sure you continue to test at least every couple of years to monitor the level in your home as it can change over time. Once you have a system installed, they will recommend that you re-test every couple of years to make sure the system is still “doing its job”.




– Alicyn


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