During the home inspection prior to purchase, a radon test was ordered and elevated concentrations were found above 4 pCi/L. Is this a concern?
The EPA has determined that long term exposure to elevated levels of radon (above 4.0 pCi/l) is a potential cause of lung cancer. However, If you like the house, radon shouldn't be a reason to back out of the deal!. Techniques have been developed that when utilized by "certified" mitigation contractors can ALWAYS reduce the radon level concentrations to below 4.0 pCi/L. You may work out an agreement with the seller to fix it before you move in. Regardless of who gets it fixed, you can go ahead with the purchase, confident once a contract with a certified mitigator has been signed to fix the problem, it can be scheduled and performed after you move in and are 'settled'.
The seller's agent said the house was tested and found "safe". Should I believe this?
What were the actual radon readings? The EPA recommends that homes at or above 4 pCi/L have some sort of work performed to lower the radon levels. However, even so, using the word "safe" may be too simple of a statement, when there is still some risk associated with even low concentrations of radon. Simply make sure that the tests were performed "on site" by an individual that is "certified" in Radon Test Measurement and Interpretation. Its not "companies" that are certified but rather "individuals".
Is radon a problem in the subdivision in which we are looking?
Radon concentrations can be quite variable from house to house, even in the same subdivision. The only way to know is to have a certified radon test performed on the house you are considering.
What areas in South Carolina are high in radon? When I buy a house, I want to choose an area that is safe.
Although there are maps indicating areas of higher potential in the U.S., they are not precise enough to determine whether or not a given home will have concentrations in excess 4.0 pCi/L. The only way to know for sure is to test. Only use individuals to do your tests who have "passed" test measurement training at an EPA-approved training center and are now "certified" to test and to "properly interpret" the results. You can't run the risk of having your tests come back as "faulty" because the individual performing the test wasn't familiar with all the situations and conditions which may adversely affect radon test results. Having someone that is "certified" will prevent this from happening!
Will a test be done automatically when I buy a home?
Unlike numerous other states, there is currently no law in South Carolina that requires that radon testing be performed prior to the sale of a home. However, along with other concerns for which you may have the home inspected, it is "financially" and "medically" prudent that you schedule a radon test by a certified radon test professional prior to purchase.
Can anyone perform radon testing?
The only individuals who are "certified" to conduct proper radon testing in a home or commercial buildings in the U.S. are those who have successfully completed radon measurement training and passed a proficiency examination at an EPA approved training center. There are many components which may affect the test readings you receive. Unless the individual placing the test kit or electronic monitor is familiar with all the potential "hazards" that can alter normal testing conditions, you are temporarily subject to test results which may be skewed. (We've encountered home inspectors that have put them in "closets", in "crawl spaces" and on the wrong floor of the house! Make SURE yours is done correctly according to EPA protocols!)
What if the seller refuses to allow me to perform a radon test?
Testing a home for radon may done either prior to or after the time of purchase. Generally, most sellers should have no reservations about a test being performed if the buyer is willing to pay for it. However, reservations about having a radon test performed in their house "could" cloud the sale!
Are you sure that radon can be fixed?
Contractors trained in EPA mitigation standards can install successful radon mitigation systems. In talking to mitigation contractors, request a written proposal that includes guarantees of resulting concentrations that are less than 4.0 pCi/L.
What things should I write into the contract offer?
1) Be specific on what is an acceptable reading.
2) What type of test devices will be used to conduct the test and validate results? Charcoal kits, E-perms or continuous monitors.
2) Consider who will be doing the pre-sale radon testing (are they certified to do so?) and at whose expense it will be conducted?
3) If the radon readings are elevated, will mitigation be acceptable? Who will pay for the work?
4) If radon mitigation is decided upon, who will perform the work? (Are they certified by NEHA or the NRSB?)
(In 1998 the EPA discontinued their management of the radon certification program and turned oversight over to these two organizations. Any company now stating in promotional materials or system proposals that they are "EPA-listed", "EPA-licensed" or "EPA-approved" is falsely misrepresenting themselves and is subject to de-certification).
5) What is the name of the "certified" individual who will be doing the work? What is their certification number? Have they been "validated
by the SC Radon Program as proficient?
6) Do they carry General Liability Insurance? Can they provide a copy of this to you upon request?
7) Who will determine the success of the mitigation system?
8) How and when will the contractor be paid?