Ask the Home Inspector: Guarding Against Radon
Real Estate In-Depth | December 14, 2022
Real Estate In-Depth has launched a new feature geared at providing useful information and the latest trends in the home inspection sector. In this installment we asked veteran home inspector Mark Aakjar the following question:
Q: How dangerous is Radon and should prospective homebuyers have homes tested for Radon as part of their due diligence? If so, how costly and time-consuming is the process?
Aakjar: Radon is a very commonly found element in the environment, it pretty much exists everywhere, it is just a matter of how much. Throughout the real estate transaction, we typically test for radon inside the basement, because it is heavier than the air that we breathe. Radon test canisters should be placed inside the basement or lowest occupiable space for a minimum of 48 hours and a maximum of seven days. Although it can be a carcinogen it is very easily remediated. The remediation cost is typically around $2,000 and done in one day; it’s a fairly easy installation.
It is important to note that during the test the radon canisters should not be placed inside of utility rooms, bathrooms, or laundry rooms as this can lead to false positives. Radon is responsible for an estimated 21,000 deaths per year and is a very serious issue if the levels are above 4.0 pCi/L, which is considered high by the EPA and should be remediated.
It is commonly thought that radon comes from rock, however it actually comes from the decomposition of uranium. It is part of the natural radioactive decay and it is during this process that radon is produced.
Radon has a very short shelf-life as it only exists for around 36 hours, so once a remediation system is properly installed you are good to go. Most homebuyers have a home test for Radon as a standard procedure, unfortunately nobody is good enough to detect it by themselves. You need a device or canisters to properly detect levels since Radon is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas
Editor’s Note: Mark Aakjar is the owner of Mark’s Inspections Inc. of Ossining. The firm is licensed in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.