Home Buyers

The home I want to buy has high radon levels, should we walk away from the deal? All homes have some level of radon in them. If a radon mitigation system is installed in the home, it will certainly have lower levels than it does now. The goal of mitigation is to reduce the levels below 2.0 pCi/l which is usually attainable. Would you rather live in a house that has a known radon level below 2.0 pCi/l or one that has levels at 3.5 pCi/l or more? Should I perform another test? If the initial radon test result is above 4.2 pCi/l based on a short-term test, it is worthwhile to conduct another test as a follow-up. The reason behind this is that it is possible that the second result could be below 4.0 pCi/l. The radon level in a home is based on the average of all valid short-term tests taken at the same location in the house, not the test result that you like best. Was the test valid? The EPA has issued ”protocols” or guidelines for radon testing in the home, as well as, for testing associated with real estate transactions. The testing protocols that are used when a house is being tested in connection with a real estate sale are listed in the "Home Buyer's and Seller's Guide to Radon". Does it matter that the house has been vacant for a while? No, it does not matter that a house has been closed up for months when you test. In fact, for short-term tests (2-3 days), the house should be closed up for 12 hours before the test begins, as well as, throughout the testing period. However, to more closely approximate what the radon levels would be when the house is occupied, allow the temperature to return to some “normal” level prior to testing. How accurate is the short-term test? The science of radon testing devices is straight forward and the results will be an accurate reflection of the radon levels during the testing period at the location being tested. This is not, however, the ‘radon level’ in a home which should be based upon a yearly average. Studies have shown that there is a 90% certainty that measured short-term test levels are +/- 25% from the true yearly average radon level. How do you reduce the radon levels in a home? There are two approaches to radon mitigation or reduction. One is to prevent the radon from entering the structure; the other is to remove the radon after it enters the structure. Generally, the best approach is to prevent the radon from entering. Some of the techniques used are soil depressurization, sealing cracks and joints, pressurizing the building, or a combination of these. Sealing foundation joints and cracks is rarely sufficient as a standalone mitigation technique. How well does the mitigation system(s) work? If a mitigation system is properly designed, results below 2.0 pCi/l should be expected. This may involve multiple suction points and/or other mitigation techniques. If a system merely consists of a depressurization point in the corner of the basement with a fan and vent pipe, in most cases, it should reduce the levels to below 3.9 pCi/l. How much does the mitigation system(s) cost? Radon mitigation systems can typically be installed for $1,600 to $2,000. This price will vary according to the size and specific construction details in a house, the desired results and aesthetics. If a radon reduction system is installed at the time of construction, the system may cost less than $1,000. When considering the estimates and proposals that you receive, consider what you will get for your money, taking into account: (1) a less expensive system may cost more to operate and maintain; (2) a less expensive system may have less aesthetic appeal; (3) a more expensive system may be best for your house; and (4) the quality of the material and equipment will affect how long the system lasts. How do I find a radon mitigation contractor? Choose a contractor to fix a radon problem just as carefully as you would choose someone to do other home repairs. Be sure to choose a contractor certified by the National Environmental Health Association or the National Radon Safety Board. Get more than one estimate and ask for the exact specifications of the scope of work, installation guidelines being followed (EPA 402-R-93-078 or ASTM 2121), materials to be used and what is warranted and for how long. Ask for references and contact some of those references to ask if they are satisfied with the contractor’s work. You may also call the Radon Educator in your area for more information. Click here for a contractor selection worksheet.
How can I test my home? Testing is easy, affordable and does not take a long time to perform. Radon testing professionals who are certified through the National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP) can perform a test for you or there are various low-cost, "do it yourself" radon test kits available through the mail and at home improvement stores. A small testing device is also available that can be plugged into the wall and will give you a continuous digital read out of the measured radon levels. The most common, commercially available passive (describe passive) test kits are charcoal canisters, alpha track detectors and charcoal liquid scintillation devices. Testing professionals typically use E-Perms or Continuous Radon Monitors. The test is placed in the basement or lowest livable level of the home. Homeowners should test in the lowest lived-in level of a home. All radon tests should take at least 48 hours. If you would like to have the test placed for you, a certified NRPP measurement professional is recommended. Tests should be performed according to EPA protocols. Infomation is available in the EPA "Citizens Guide to Radon". Should I perform a short-term or long-term test? The Environmental Projection Agency (EPA) “action” level of 4 pCi/l represents an annual average. Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, a short-term test (days) is less likely than a long-term test (months) to approximate the year-round average radon level. If results are needed quickly, a short-term test followed by a second short-term test or two short-term tests placed side by side, and the results averaged, is permissible. The test should last at least 48 hours for either approach. For current homeowners, we recommend a Safety Siren Pro Series HS71512 3 Radon Gas Detector. This is a continuous radon monitor that will give a constant digital read out of the short- and long-term measured radon levels. This device has the same technology professions use and samples the air hourly. The detectors can be purchased from SRR or online for approximately $129.99. How do you reduce the radon levels in a home? There are two basic approaches to radon mitigation or reduction. The most common method is to prevent the radon from entering the structure; the other is to remove the radon after it enters the structure. How Well Does the Mitigation System(s) Work? The effectiveness of a radon mitigation system is dependent on the degree to which the pressures in and around a building and the pathways by which the pressures are applied are controlled. When a building is viewed as a whole and a mitigation system is designed specifically for what conditions are present, results below 2.0 pCi/l should be achievable. How Much Does The Mitigation System(s) Cost? Radon mitigation systems can typically be installed for $1,600 to $2,000. This price will vary according to the size and specific construction details in a house, the desired results and aesthetics. If a radon reduction system is installed at the time of construction, the system may cost less than $1,000. When considering the estimates and proposals that you receive, consider what you will get for your money, taking into account: (1) a less expensive system may cost more to operate and maintain; (2) a less expensive system may have less aesthetic appeal; (3) a more expensive system may be best for your house; and (4) the quality of the material and equipment will affect how long the system lasts. How do I find a radon mitigation contractor? Choose a contractor to fix a radon problem just as carefully as you would choose someone to do other home repairs. Be sure to choose a contractor certified by the National Environmental Health Association or the National Radon Safety Board. Get more than one estimate and ask for the exact specifications of the scope of work, installation guidelines being followed (EPA 402-R-93-078 or ASTM 2121), materials to be used and what is warranted and for how long. Ask for references and contact some of those references to ask if they are satisfied with the contractor’s work. You may also call the Radon Educator in your area for more information. Click here for a contractor selection worksheet.
What do I look for when inspecting an installed radon system? There are six (6) different elements of an Active Soil Depressurization (ASD) to inspect: 1. Depressurization Point - Location(s) where suction is applied to the soil under the home. 2. Ventillation Pipe - PVC or ABS pipe installed from depressurization point to the discharge point. 3. System Monitor and Lableing - Method of indicating that the fan is operational. 4. Depressurization Fan - A fan that maintains the soil suction. 5. Discharge Point - Location where ventillation pipe terminates. 6. Electrical - Circuit, disconnect and labling. Is there an inspection checklist available? A Radon Mitigation System Inspection Checklist is available from American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the EPA. It is intended to educate home inspection clients about radon, and to encourage radon testing and mitigation when elevated radon levels (4 pCi/L or more) are found. The Checklist also helps to determine whether an existing system may need to be repaired or upgraded. The Checklist is not a comprehensive inspection tool. It does not replace, nor is it a substitute for, mitigation system inspections conducted or required by state or local governments or agencies. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) also has a published protocol for the inspection of radon mitigtion systems. Are there any standards or building codes for the installation of systems in new construction? There are no current national codes for the installation of ASD systems. Radon Resistant New Construction (RRNC) is addressed in the International Code Council in Appendix F. The industry accepted national standard is defined in EPA 402-R-93-078 and ASTM 2121 How do I know if my state or local jurisdiction has any code requirements? The EPA maintains a list of states and local jurisdictions that have implimented RRNC codes. FIND YOUR STATE AK - AL - AR - AZ - CA - CO - CT - DC - DE - FL - GA - HI - IA - ID - IL - IN - KS - KY - LA - MA - MD - ME - MI - MN - MO - MS - MT - NC - ND - NE - NH - NJ - NM - NY - NV - OH - OK - OR - PA - PR - RI - SC - SD - TN - TX - UT - VA - VT - WA - WI - WV - WY What are the standards or code requirements for a radon system in Georgia? There are published standards for the proper installation of radon reduction systems (e.g., EPA 402-R-93-078 and ASTM 2121), but these are not required or enforced in Georgia. Radon mitigation contractors in Georgia do not have to be trained, licensed, certified or follow the existing national standards. State and local plumbing, electric and building codes should be followed when installing a mitigation system. The following are the accepted Georgia codes: International Code Council (ICC)-One and Two Family Codes and the Georgia Amendments. Other codes are applied as approved by the state of Georgia (e.g. Model Energy Code, Standard Plumbing Code (UPC), and National Electric Code (NEC)). If you do not understand or agree with the codes as noted, contact the local building code inspector for the municipality the work is taking place in, or contact the Georgia Department of Community Affairs at 404.679.3118 for an official interpretation.
A house tested with a slightly elevated radon level, should we perform a second test? If your initial test result is above 4.2 pCi/L based on a short-term test, it is advisable to retest. It is possible that the result of another test would be below 4.0 pCi/L. The radon level in a home is based on the average of all valid short-term tests taken at the same location in the house, not the test result that you like best. Was it a valid test? The EPA has issued ”protocols” or guidelines for radon testing in a house, as well as, for testing associated with real estate transactions. The testing procedures or protocols that are used when a house is being tested in connection with a real estate sale are listed in the “Home Buyer's and Seller's Guide to Radon.” There was a storm when the test was run, does that make the results invalid? In general, typical weather conditions have little measurable effect on the radon level in a home. Only when the weather is severe enough to alter the stack effect of the home for a while will there be any significant change in the radon level. Testing should be avoided during severe storms. The National Weather Service defines a severe storm as a storm that generates winds of 58 MPH and/or ¾ inch diameter hail and that may produce tornados – not necessarily in that order. For short term tests of less than 4 days high winds should be avoided. These are defined as sustained winds over 30 MPH. Not brief gusts. If you’ve a question about the weather that arose during a test, consult your professional. If the weather meets the criteria, a retest may be recommended. Does it matter that the house was vacant for a while? No, it does not matter if a house has been closed up for months when you test. In fact, for short-term tests (2-3 days) the house should be closed up for 12 hours before the test begins, as well as, throughout the testing period. However, to more closely approximate what the radon levels would be when the house is occupied, allow the temperature to return to some “normal” level prior to testing. The radon test came back high. Now what? Radon can effectively be managed and reduced in homes that have elevated levels. The EPA says the should have the radon levels reduced if the radon levels are found to be above 4.0 pCi/l and should be considered if the levels are between 2.0 and 3.9 pCi/l. The process of reducing radon levels in a home is called mitigation. How much does the mitigation system(s) cost? Radon mitigation systems can typically be installed for $1,600 to $2,000. This price will vary according to the size and specific construction details in a house, the desired results and aesthetics. If a radon reduction system is installed at the time of construction, the system may cost less than $1,000. When considering the estimates and proposals that you receive, consider what you will get for your money, taking into account: (1) a less expensive system may cost more to operate and maintain; (2) a less expensive system may have less aesthetic appeal; (3) a more expensive system may be best for your house; and (4) the quality of the material and equipment will affect how long the system lasts. How do I find a radon mitigation contractor? Choose a contractor to fix a radon problem just as carefully as you would choose someone to do other home repairs. Be sure to choose a contractor certified by the National Environmental Health Association or the National Radon Safety Board. Get more than one estimate and ask for the exact specifications of the scope of work, installation guidelines being followed (EPA 402-R-93-078 or ASTM 2121), materials to be used and what is warranted and for how long. Ask for references and contact some of those references to ask if they are satisfied with the contractor’s work. You may also call the Radon Educator in your area for more information. Click here for a contractor selection worksheet. How long does the installation process take? Most radon system installations are pretty straight forward and can be installed in 1 or 2 days. A follow up clearance test can be set no sooner than 24 hours after the activation of the system and be for a minimum of 48 hours. This means that it is at least 3 days after the system installation is completed until results can be obtained. How do I know if the system is being installed correctly? There are published standards for the proper installation of radon reduction systems (e.g., EPA 402-R-93-078 and ASTM 2121), but these are not required or enforced in Georgia. Radon mitigation contractors in Georgia do not have to be trained, licensed, certified or follow the existing national standards. State and local plumbing, electric and building codes should be followed when installing a mitigation system. The purpose of codes is to provide a set of minimum standards of installation for the safety and welfare of the consumer and general public. The following are the accepted Georgia codes: 2006 International Code Council (ICC)-One and Two Family Codes and the Georgia Amendments. Other codes are applied as approved by the state of Georgia (e.g. Model Energy Code, Standard Plumbing Code (UPC), and National Electric Code (NEC)). If you or your mitigation contractor do not understand or agree with the interpretation of the codes as noted, contact the local building code inspector for the municipality the work is taking place in, or contact the Georgia Department of Community Affairs at 404.679.3118 for an official interpretation. Click to obtain a copy of the GA and National codes and standards. (link to GA standards page) Why should you as a realtor recommend a radon test with every home sale? One out of six houses (17%) in metro Atlanta has elevated levels of radon. Some zip codes and subdivisions have 50%+ of homes that have tested high. Many states now require radon testing as part of a real estate transaction. As more people move to Atlanta from these areas, they are used to radon testing being part of the process. If your client buys a home with elevated levels of radon and they choose not to test, when they sell and the new buyer does test, your client will end up paying for a mitigation system (rather than the person they purchased the home from) and receive no benefit from it. Radon tests are inexpensive compared to the cost of mitigation.
Southern Radon Reduction (SRR) is a fully licensed and insured radon mitigation company offering radon reduction and abatement services for single family homes, townhomes, condominiums, multi-family and commercial buildings in metro Atlanta and the southeast. Our certified radon mitigation professionals use diagnostic analysis with quantitative instrumentation to design a mitigation system specifically for the building being mitigated. This optimization of system design provides maximum efficiency of the system and reduces the regular operating costs, as well as, the energy penalty from loss of conditioned air from the building.

What is radon?

Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown (i.e., radioactive decay) of radium, which is a decay product of uranium. Uranium and radium are both common elements in the soil. Radon is the second cause of lung cancer in the general population, after smoking.

How does radon get into the home?

Radon is a soil gas that typically moves up through the ground to the air above. Air pressure inside a structure is usually lower than pressure in the soil around the structure's foundation. Because of the difference in pressure, a house acts like a vacuum, drawing radon in through dirt floors, hollow-block walls, cracks in the foundation floor and walls and openings around floor drains, pipes and sump pumps. Any structure may have a radon problem: new or old, well-sealed or drafty, built on a slab, crawlspace or basement. Radon is generally more concentrated at lower levels, such as basements, ground floors and first floors.

Is it difficult to test for radon?

Testing is easy, affordable and does not take a long time to perform. Radon testing professionals who are certified through the National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP) can perform a test or there are various of low-cost, "do it yourself" radon test kits available through the mail and at home improvement stores. A small testing device is also available that can be plugged into the wall and will give you a continuous digital read out of the measured radon levels. The most common commercially available passive test kits are charcoal canisters, alpha track detectors and charcoal liquid scintillation devices. Testing professionals typically use E-Perms or Continuous Radon Monitors. These tests are placed in the basement or lowest livable level of the home. All radon tests should take at least 48 hours.

My levels are above 4.0. Now what?

Not only is the radon easy to test, the methods of reducing the amount of radon is straight forward, affordable and provides a number of secondary benefits. Even high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels in most cases.

Why should I be concerned?

All structures have some levels or radon; some have greater amounts than others. Most scientists agree that exposure to radon gas is a health hazard to humans that causes lung cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently released their Handbook on Indoor Radon which strongly validates the threat of exposure to radon gas. Radon gas has been classified as a human carcinogen since 1988, but WHO has been studying the effects of radon exposure since 1979. Twenty years of sound research and real-life studies from all over the world to confirm that exposure to radon can cause lung cancer. Epidemiological studies have provided convincing evidence of an association between indoor radon exposure and lung cancer, even at the relatively low radon levels commonly found in residential buildings. If you smoke and your home has high levels of radon, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.