Uncovering the hidden enemies of home buying. Your Enemy: Radon
I haven’t personally owned a home with a radon problem yet but I have sold homes and seen a number of homes with radon issues. In fact, I just recently sold a home that had above average levels of radon in a finished basement.
Why it’s an issue: Lung Cancer
Likelihood of finding it: Location dependent.
Cost to fix: Moderately expensive
If you haven’t heard of radon, you’re not alone. Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that comes from the uranium found in rocks and soil. Radon is all around us in the environment and is not typically harmful until it is concentrated. The issue with some homes is that they are located in an area where higher than average amounts of radon gas is seeping out of rocks and they don’t have enough ventilation to adequately disperse the gas. As an analogy, think of all the cars that pump out hazardous carbon monoxide on a daily basis. When they are driving outside where there is room for the carbon monoxide to disburse into the environment, the harmful effects on people are diminished. The moment you put the same car in an unventilated garage the carbon monoxide builds up and becomes lethal. Think of your home as the unventilated garage. Improper ventilation is what allows the radon to build up and be harmful.
What to look for:
My advice when buying a home would be to get a radon inspection. Because radon gas is odorless and tasteless there is no way to know if it is in the home without professional testing. The good news is that it is not too costly to add a radon inspection onto the list of other inspections. Locally, radon inspections tend to be less than $200. The inspector will leave testing devices in various places in the home and the goal is to have goal is to have and exposure level of less than 4 pCi/L.
How to fix and costs of fixing:
If you do have above average levels of radon in your home, the good news is there are ways to remedy it by adding a ventilation system. Look for a licensed radon mitigation technician in your local area and tell them you will need a radon mitigation system installed. The system looks like PVC pipe and is usually found running up from a basement or crawlspace and then venting through a wall to the exterior. The systems will suck the gas from the soil and pump it safely out of the home. If you’re planning to buy a home and the radon inspection shows higher than average levels of radon, this would be a good time to try and get the sellers to install the system. I’m sure the costs of radon ventilation systems can vary substantially but recent quotes and installations I’ve seen were less than $3,000.
Happy home buying!
About the Author:
Daniel Smith is the Owner/Broker-in Charge of Red Link Realty a Lexington, North Carolina based real estate firm. Daniel uses his real estate knowledge to help both prospective home buyers and sellers with their real estate transactions. Daniel has been investing in residential rental properties and house flipping since 2008. www.redlinkrealty.com