I am putting my house on the market to sell it. Do I need to do a radon test?
Answer: There is currently no SC state law that says you have to have your home tested prior to its sale. However, the radon concentrations you have in your home are not going to change drastically. If you have high levels when you LIST your house, it generally wont change much before it sells. However, to meet environmental due diligence clauses in real estate contracts, many radon tests are performed in the last week or two prior to the closing. Some test results occasionally come back "borderline". Unfortunately, there usually isn't enough time to schedule and perform a 2nd test . Get your radon testing done as early as possible! Its in your best interest as a seller to have your home tested when it goes on the market! The average home sells in 120 days or longer. If a short term test is conducted when the house is listed and the results come back high, its advisable to do a 2nd test to "confirm" the first one before committing to fix it. You could also initiate a long term test (30 days to six months) that will give you a more representative picture of what is actually there. The shorter tests (2-5 days) are more subject to "fluctuation" by variances in barometric pressures and precipitation. If a contract is put on your home after 30 days, you could instruct the certified test professional to halt the long term test in process and get the results processed. This would eliminate having to make a financial commitment based on a "borderline test result!
Answer: No! There is no "legal requirement" to fix a house with elevated radon levels. But each real estate transaction involves negotiation. Just about anything (termites, water damage, flooring, roofing issues etc) and "radon" can be negotiated. Some buyers may be reluctant to buy a house that tests high from radon and may want something done about it prior to buying it. If one buyer doesn't buy your home, you are required by law to disclose the test results to subsequent prospects. Most sellers elect to go ahead and fix the problem to keep the closing on track.
Does the radon system HAVE to be installed PRIOR to the closing for the system warranty to be in effect?
Answer: Absolutely NOT! The system warranty we provide on ALL our systems are "transferable", meaning that if a homeowner sells their house the warranty is passed along to the buyer of the home. If problems with radon later arise, we will stand behind our guarantee to fix the problem. Once we sign a contract to fix the problem, the money can be "set aside" in escrow with the attorney at the closing and disbursed upon the completion and successful re-testing of the home. Sometimes we have piping route alternatives to choose from and we like giving the buyer the "choice" of which suits him or her best. Installing the system PRIOR to the closing means "we have to make the call". In either case the radon problem will be taken care of but we feel that the buyer might have renovation plans that might possibly be impacted somewhat "space-wise" by the placement of our system. That's why we like working together with the buyer of the home to make sure they are happy with the placement of our system. Meeting with them also allows us to answer any questions they might have about radon and our system installation.
Who should perform the test?
There are numerous things that can contribute to faulty radon test results. Only an individual trained in the proper EPA radon testing procedures should perform the test to ensure that the readings received are valid. The EPA has developed a proficiency program/exam for people in the radon measurement field. Qualified professionals have received radon test measurement certification from either NEHA (National Environmental Health Association) or the NRSB (National Radon Safety Board).
What is a reasonable amount of radon?
The U.S. EPA and the U.S. Surgeon General's office have established that people should not be exposed to more than 4.0 pCi/L of radon on a long term basis. However, just as there is a greater risk of smoking 4 packs of cigarettes/day versus smoking 2 packs of cigarettes/day, all levels of radon have an associated risk factor.
What costs are associated with the installation of a radon mitigation system?
The cost for a radon mitigation system depends upon the size and complexity of your home, the medium that exists under your concrete slab (gravel, sand or clay) and the level of radon initially reported to be in your home. Nationally, the price for a 1 pipe, sub-slab depressurization system averages around $1200 when installed by a contractor trained in proper EPA mitigation standards and procedures. Sub-membrane systems installed in crawl spaces are based on the square footage and the number of piers that are encountered and tend to be more "labor intensive" to effectively seal the membrane at all points.
If my house was closed up for several weeks, would that affect my test?
Radon is a living radioactive particle that has a "half-life" of 3-4 days. Once a single particle "dies", it is replaced by others. If this was not the case, the radon levels in a home would keep building and building and building etc. Radon levels are affected in part by the amount of "concentration" under the structure. Each home has a "maximum" that the radon will rise to. Even if you were to open the doors and windows of a home to "air it out", once closed up again the radon levels would return to approximately where they were before in 24-48 hours. However, one key thing to remember during radon testing is that the heating and/or cooling system should be operating as normal during the test!
The EPA says that "closed house conditions" must exist for 12 hour prior to starting a test. But what if I live there?
"Closed house conditions" does not mean you have to "seal" the house up for 48 hours. It simply means there hasn't been an excessive introduction of fresh air from the outside, but rather brief "entries" and "exits".
Is it ok to run my heating/air conditioning during the radon test in my home?
Yes! Radon testing should actually be done while your system is running as usual to simulate normal living conditions.
Could there ever be a reason that a house didn't close due to high radon levels?
A lot of things can affect the sale of a home. However, you should never NOT buy a house simply because elevated levels of radon have been discovered. It can be easily and cost effectively fixed. Unlike termites and mold, once addressed properly by certified professionals radon will never be a concern again!
Are charcoal kits as reliable as using continuous radon monitors?
Both devices are used for short term testing. The problem with using charcoal kits is that they tend to be "biased" to the last twelve hours of the test. Radon is a living, radioactive particle with a 3-4 day "life". The further you get away from earlier particles the more "prominent" the more recent ones become. Since you obtain an "average" of the time period tested for, the test kit cannot distinguish "how" that average was obtained because its a collection of the data collected during the whole test period. Since the radon was "strongest" the last twelve hours, it will cause the results to be slightly "weighted" in that direction (high or low). Continuous monitors on the other hand record "hourly readings" which are then averaged to obtain the final test result. You can see what "happened" with the radon throughout the course of the test. (Regardless of the device used, you should always use someone that is NEHA "certified" to conduct radon testing for real estate transactions according to proper EPA protocols).
The home inspector that did my test only put one test kit out (which came back slightly high) and now he says I need to have an abatement system put in. Is this right?
No! You should never initiate abatement work based on "one test!" The EPA recommends that you conduct a follow-up test to confirm that you indeed have a problem!
What does being "certified" in radon testing and test interpretation mean?
It means that the individual has demonstrated his/her knowledge of the EPA's test measurement protocol by passing a proficiency exam. You should ONLY use individuals that are certified to test your home. Why pay someone to conduct radon related services that aren't qualified?
Do you provide a written guarantee for the systems you install?
Absolutely! Our "printed guarantee certificate" states that the system will successfully lower the radon in the homes we install them (2.9 or below) or we will continue working at our expense until they are! The warranty is transferable to other owners of the home if we are notified "PRIOR" to the sale of the home so that we may inspect the system!
Have you ever installed a system that didn't work?
No! We've installed several hundred systems (some with radon levels as high as 65 pCi/L +) and have always been able to achieve reductions below 4 picocuries (The EPA recommended action level).
Can my house be "too tight"?
Answer: Every house has a vacuum. You can tell this if you have ever closed the first door "hard" and saw the "blinds" in the house "move". The 70's produced a great emphasis on "energy efficiency". In order to keep the "heat/cold" in, you "insulated" more! The problem is that while you make the house "tighter", you almost always insure that that whatever "indoor air" is there...."stays there" (including radon). Radon problems in a home exist because there is a slight negative pressure in the house that is greater than below the slab or in the crawl space. Radon is heavier than air but is "pressure driven" so it only takes a slight "vacuum" inside the house to draw it inside (through cracks in the slab, floor drains, plumbing piping, cinder block walls and through crawl space flooring. The problem that many homes have with mold is frequently because it is very tight and doesn't get enough "air changes" that would prevent the air from stagnating which creates a "ripe environment" for mold to grow.
If there are several different fan velocities, How do you know which one is right for my home"?
We install a "manometer gauge" on all our systems. A manometer measures "air flow" and is a visual indicator that the fan is "on" and performing correctly. Based on the reading the manometer produces we size the fan accordingly. A system can actually "fix" the radon problem but be operating under "duress" because the fan manufacturer's recommended operation level is being exceeded. If the fan fails, the fan manufacturer will not honor a fan warranty if the fan was operating "above" their recommended norm. Unlike our competition, we always make sure that the fan is "sized" right for each system we install.
Why should I have my home tested for radon?
Because the EPA has determined that radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer and the 1st
Is it true that you actually offer a "money back guarantee" on your radon testing services?
Yes! We are so confident that the results we provide will be accurate we are prepared to "fix" a problem with radon if the house we have reported to be "low" comes back "high" later. (Provided we are given the opportunity to confirm these results using proper EPA testing protocols). We are the first radon testing provider "nationwide" to make this offer (in writing)! (We can do this because we have the experience in conducting 1,000's of tests and know HOW to obtain a valid test!)
Can I do my own testing for radon?
Yes. You can purchase a radon kit from a local hardware store or order one online. (We prefer Lowe's, ($12.95) The kits Home Depot sells for $9.95 have a $30 processing fee you have to pay to get your results back!
Does smoking affect radon?
Yes! The EPA states that if you smoke AND have a problem with radon in your home, your risk for lung cancer is multiplied between 5 to 10 times GREATER! http://epa.gov/iaq/radon/risk_assessment.html
My house is in a new sub-division. Should I still get my home tested?
Answer: Absolutely! Even if your builder was required by local building code to install passive radon piping that is no "guarantee" that your house won't have a problem. It simply makes it easier (and less expensive) to fix! The ONLY way to know if you have a problem is to test! If early prevention for breat cancer is advisable through the use of mammograms, then testing your house for radon is a great "early prevention means" against lung cancer!
My house was built on "gravel dust" Is that a problem in lowering radon levels?
To fix a house built on a slab with a radon problem we have to create a negative pressure (suction) under the slab. To do this effectively we have to have good "air communication" across the slab. The best type of medium to pour a slab on is "gravel" (Size = No. 57) (traditionally known as "driveway gravel"). Pea gravel or "gravel dust" are both a much more "compact" medium and will "restrict" proper air communication based on how "tight" they are! Restricted mediums may require more work to effectively lower radon levels in a structure Do yourself a favor and insist that your house is poured on the proper medium!
My builder told me that radon piping was installed in our home. Does that take care of the radon?
Not necessarily! The installation of radon piping simply makes the house "less expensive" to fix if an elevated level of radon is encountered. You should be SURE to get your house tested after the house is completed.
Do you offer a warranty on fans that you install on existing radon piping in a home?
Absolutely! The fans we install have a 5-year manufacturer's warranty from date of installation.
Can you warranty a radon system to fix a radon problem AFTER you have installed a fan on a passive pipe provided by the builder?
Unfortunately, because we didn't install the radon pipe below the concrete slab and don't know if it was done properly, we are unable to provide a guarantee that the system will be successful once the fan has been installed. In the majority of homes we have worked with this is usually NOT a problem. However, we have periodically encountered homes with radon piping present that we had to do further work (additional pipes) to lower the radon level because the original system was not installed correctly. A key factor in this is having someone that is a trained mitigator on-site" that can spec and install radon piping in a home to proper EPA protocols.
Can you warranty a radon system to fix a radon problem AFTER you have installed a fan on a passive pipe provided by the builder?
Unfortunately, because we didn't install the radon pipe below the concrete slab and don't know if it was done properly, we are unable to provide a warranty that the system will be successful once the fan has been installed. In the majority of homes we have worked with this is usually NOT a problem. However, we have periodically encountered homes with radon piping present that we had to do further work (additional pipes) to lower the radon level because the original system was not installed correctly. A key factor in this is having someone that is a trained mitigator on-site" that can spec and install radon piping in a home to proper EPA protocols.