Should I get a Radon Test?
“Should I get a radon test?” is a common question our home inspection clients ask us all the time. Whether you live in Pottstown, Reading, Collegeville or even Philadelphia, we’re going to tell you it’s a good idea!
The Pennyslvania DEP (along with the EPA and Surgeon General) recommend every household below the 3rd floor be tested. Roughly 1 in 15 homes across the United States, according to the EPA, has high radon levels at or above the actionable radon level of 4 picocuries per Liter (pCi/L) of air. Radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer.
So yes, we believe you should have a radon test!
What is Radon Anyway?
Radon is a gas and it’s a carcinogen. You can’t see, taste, or smell radon and it doesn’t cause any immediate health symptoms. Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in the soil and water. The home above this soil and water can trap the radon and, as a result, have high levels indoors.
Is Radon Really Harmful?
Unfortunately radon gas is invisible and it’s radioactive. Exposure to radon gas at high levels and over long periods of time increase your risk of lung cancer. It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths and the #1 cause of lung cancer cases in non-smokers.
There’s just no way to know if your home has high levels unless you test for it. Your neighbor can have high levels and your home might be fine!
No Basement, No Radon?
The most common myth people believe is that if the home has no basement, there’s no concern for radon. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. Radon is a gas that gets into your home through cracks and gaps in your foundation- any foundation. Radon levels can be high in any home. For instance, the home can be 2 years old or 100 years old and have high levels of radon. It doesn’t even matter if the home is drafty or well-sealed, basement or no basement. A 2nd floor condo with no basement can test high. You just don’t know until you test!
It’s a dense gas. Therefore, in most cases, the levels will tend to be higher in basements and lower levels. This doesn’t mean it only exists in basements and shouldn’t be a concern elsewhere. Protocol from the DEP requires we test the lowest liveable area of the home. If your home has no basement, we test the 1st floor.
Is Testing Expensive?
Having a radon test done is the only way to know what your indoor levels are. The good news is that it is a very affordable! The radon test can be done by a home inspector with a certified radon license and typically costs $110 to $160 depending on where you live. If you are already having a home inspection done, your home inspector will typically offer a radon test at a discount when done at the same time. Results take a minimum of 48 hours. If you already live in the home you want to test, you can purchase a do-it-yourself kit at Home Depot or Lowes. It takes longer for results, but if you follow the instructions properly, you’ll have accurate results in a few weeks!
Can Radon Issues be Fixed?
Yes, virtually any home with a higher level of radon can be remediated.
The most common system we see installed are called sub-slab depressurization systems. These systems can run from several hundred dollars to a few thousand depending on the size and details of the home. This system, when running, will create a vacuum under the slab of the home and take the vapors in the soil and direct them outside. These systems can usually be installed in a matter of a few hours. Testing afterwards should show a reduction in radon levels to 4.0 pCI/L or lower.
So when you ask yourself “Should I test for Radon?”, we hope you consider the health danger, the low cost of testing, and understanding testing is the only way to know your home’s levels. We hope you agree that it’s worth it!
David Artigliere is a home inspector in Pottstown, Reading, Collegeville, Malvern and surrounding areas of Southeastern Pennsylvania. He is the owner of ARTI Home Inspections LLC.
He is licensed by the DEP to perform radon testing. Visit our website to schedule your test today!