Radon mitigation systems have grown in popularity over the last 20 years or so, as more and more homeowners are becoming educated on the dangers of radon gas in the home. Radon mitigation is one of the only proven and reliable methods of removing dangerous radon levels from a home indefinitely and aesthetically most radon systems look pretty simple. Because of this, many DIY’ers view it as a project that can be done without professional assistance.
Not only is installing a radon mitigation system tougher than most people think, it can also cause thousands of dollars in damage if done improperly. Certified radon mitigation professionals should almost always be hired to perform this work.
In this article we will explain how radon mitigation systems are installed and what it would take to do one on your own.
Radon Mitigation Basics
What is Radon Gas?
Radon is a naturally occurring noble gas that derives from the breakdown of uranium in the soil. Once it has been formed, it rises up from the soil and typically will dissipate into the outdoor air. When a structure such as a home or commercial building blocks its path, it begins to find the paths of least resistance to continue rising. These paths can include cracks in the foundation, the sump crock, open dirt or gravel crawl spaces, and the pores of the concrete. After entry into a structure, radon will begin to build up to unsafe levels as it has nowhere to go. As radon gas starts to decay, it releases radioactive particles that attach to dust and water molecules in the air. Over an extended period of time, breathing in these particles will damage the lining of the lungs and can ultimately cause lung cancer. According to the EPA, radon gas is the #1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and causes 21,000 deaths per year in the US.
What is Radon Mitigation?
Radon mitigation systems consist of PVC piping, a specialty in-line radon fan, and a manometer. To properly remove radon gas from a structure, a negative pressure must be achieved underneath the slab to divert the rising gas into the PVC piping to be routed above the roofline so it can dissipate into the outdoor air. In some homes, the suction point may be the sump crock and in many others, this requires coring into the slab and digging out a suction pit. When installed properly, radon mitigation systems will reduce radon levels in the home indefinitely.
Steps to Install a DIY Radon Mitigation System
1. Test your Home
The crucial first step to removing radon gas is determining what type of levels are currently in your home. Radon testing is an affordable process that typically will take anywhere between 2-11 days to get results from depending on the type of test performed. The DIY option for radon testing is the charcoal testing kit which can be set up in your home on your own and mailed to a testing lab to be analyzed. These test kits can usually be purchased for under $30 and can give you a good idea of what your average radon levels are. If you prefer to have a professional conduct the radon test in your home, you can hire a company like us to set a digital monitor in your home for 48 hours. Digital testing allows you to see an hour by hour report of your levels and is proven to be the most accurate radon testing option around. Digital radon tests typically will fall between $100-$150 depending on where you live. If you wish to check your radon levels at any time during the day and generate digital reports on your own, there are some great in-home options from Airthings. Personal digital radon detectors like the Airthings Home or Airthings Wave allow you to check your radon levels at any time either on the device itself or on your smartphone. The only drawback of personal detectors is the accuracy, which can start to stray a bit as the device gets older. Whichever choice you pick to test your home, you want to make sure that the average is below 4.0 pCi/L. If your readings are at or above that number, you will need to have a radon mitigation system installed.
2. Determine Placement
Placement of the radon mitigation system is crucial to installation, not just for the aesthetics of the home, but also for the effectiveness of the system. Aesthetically there are basically two options of where the system can vent out of the home that follow code. The first option is to run the PVC up the basement wall, through the joist and continue the piping up the exterior to vent above the roofline. This is known as an exterior style system. The other option for venting is through the garage. For a garage style system, the piping begins in the basement along the common wall between the basement and garage and vents up the basement, through the garage, and through the roof to vent out above the garage roof. Both styles of systems are quite difficult to do on your own unless you are a trained mitigator, but the garage system is especially difficult for most untrained homeowners due to the roof work needed and the coring into the basement floor to be able to start the piping on that side of the home.
For the effectiveness of the system, placement also has to be determined by the type of home. If the home has a sump crock and drain-tile system under the slab, the system will need to be tied into that. If the home does not have a drain-tile system, a proper collection point will need to be dug out under the home to attach the pipe to. This is done by coring a hole into the slab and removing around 5-10 gallons worth of material.
Note: There are significant risks to coring a hole into your basement slab if you are not trained.
3. Call a Professional
Unless you are trained in radon mitigation, you should not attempt this type of project on your own. We have had countless calls from DIY’ers who attempted to do things on their own and end up spending much more money on materials and repairs, when they could have just called a professional to do things right the first time. Unlike a paint job, or a simple fence installation, radon mitigation requires tools that most homeowners do not have access to, and the risks that are involved with coring holes into your slab and manipulating the drain-tile system are much too high. Additionally, if installed improperly, poorly made systems can actually increase radon levels within the home and even draw in carbon monoxide into the living space. For around $1000, you can have a radon mitigation system installed by a professional with a guarantee of levels below 4.0 pCi/L and a 5 year fan warranty (As most fan manufacturers will only warranty fans installed by certified radon professionals). Give us a call today for a free quote!
Radon mitigation contractors that do not use licensed electricians and/or don’t pull permits when necessary for the electrical portion of the radon system are putting homeowners and themselves at a huge risk. When shopping around for the best company to mitigate your home, here are the reasons you should be hyper aware of each company's electrical procedures.
1. It is illegal in the state of Wisconsin to perform unlicensed electrical work.
In order for a radon mitigation fan to be installed properly, and to code, the fan needs to be either plugged in to a GFCI outlet with a proper bubble cover within 6ft of the fans placement, or hardwired to a switch. In Wisconsin, this work is required by law to be done by a licensed electrician. As a cost cutting measure to undercut reputable companies, many smaller, uncertified contractors will perform the electrical work themselves. If you don’t see anything about electrical work on a proposal given to you by another radon company, you should start asking questions. Some guys will even go as far as claiming they are electricians when in reality they hold no licenses whatsoever. The safest and most reliable way for a radon company to ensure the electrical work is done properly and in a legal way is to subcontract a licensed electrical company, or hire a master electrician, to perform the electrical work on every system. At Lifetime Radon Solutions, we have teamed up with Roblee Electric for the Southeastern Wisconsin region, and N&N Electric for the Madison area. Not only will you know for a fact that the electrical work is being done properly, but you can be sure that you are covered from a liability perspective as well.
2. Failure to pull permits for electrical work will result in big fines from most municipalities.
The majority of municipalities in the state of Wisconsin require permits to be pulled for any electrical work performed. Inspectors have taken notice of unpermitted radon mitigation system installations and have started to crack down on both the installers and the homeowners. Don’t risk getting fined because you choose a significantly cheaper mitigation option. Make sure the mitigator you choose is either partnered with a licensed electrical contractor, or has a master electrician on staff, and ask if a permit will be pulled.
3. If a radon mitigator performing electrical work is not licensed, their liability insurance coverage will not cover damage or issues related to the home's electrical system.
When performing unlicensed electrical work on a home, many issues can arise that can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage. Electrical repair is not cheap, and the contractors insurance plan will almost certainly deny any claim related to that type of work as it is outside of the scope of their companies work. What this means is, if your home's electrical systems become damaged due to an unlicensed mitigator attempting to wire the radon system themselves, you will be on the hook for the cost of the repairs.
4. Faulty wiring can cause damage to the radon fan or even cause a fire
Radon fan warranties are typically not honored by the manufacturer when the fan is installed by an uncertified contractor. This is because they need to be installed properly to operate efficiently for years to come. If the wiring to the fan is not done by an electrician, the fan can easily short circuit, and in rare cases even start a fire. These issues can easily be avoided by calling a certified contractor that does things the right way.
As mentioned before, Lifetime Radon Solutions. Inc. has partnerships with reputable electricians that are licensed to do all the electrical work needed for our radon mitigation systems. Due to our great relationship with these companies, we also have worked out a flat rate for all electrical work needed (meaning that no matter how much work they have to do to get the fan wired, it will always be the same price). We also take care of all the scheduling and payments for the electricians to make the process easier for you. Give us a call today for a free radon mitigation quote!
When choosing the right contractor to install a radon mitigation system in your home, there are a few major factors to consider other than just the price on the quote. By far the biggest factor is certification. In this article, we will discuss the importance of radon mitigation certification and what to look out for when choosing the right company to lower your radon levels to a safe range.
For many homeowners, price is a big concern when it comes to home improvement projects, and it can be easy to just choose the least expensive option when it comes to radon mitigation (which admittedly isn't the flashiest home improvement project). However, with radon mitigation going cheap can end up being expensive, and in ultra rare cases even deadly.
In the state of Wisconsin (along with many other states across the country) there are no laws requiring radon mitigation companies to be certified, therefore, there are a decent amount of uncertified and inexperienced contractors throughout the state offering low priced radon systems.
What does this mean?
Choosing a radon mitigation company that holds certifications from organizations such as the National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP), and the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB), can ensure that the installer will follow the proper procedures and codes necessary to not only install a system that is almost guaranteed to work, but also pass inspection when the home goes up for sale. Without certification, in theory you could be getting someone who has no prior knowledge or experience with radon removal.
What can happen if I do hire an uncertified contractor?
There is a lot more to radon mitigation than just inserting a ventilation pipe and a fan into the slab and hoping for results. The type of mitigation fan used and the placement of the suction point play a large role in the success of the system. We constantly field calls from homeowners who used a “cheaper option” and retested their home only to find that the radon levels were still high, and when they called the company back to fix it they refused to answer the call. The problem with many uncertified contractors is that they are often only in the mitigation business for a quick buck before they move onto the next trending home improvement business. They are not interested in servicing systems they have already installed because their company's reputation doesn’t matter as much. You will also commonly find that the materials these contractors use are typically the bottom of the barrel in terms of quality. Not all radon mitigation fans are created equal, and the model and brand make a big difference.
The state of Wisconsin requires a licensed electrical contractor to install, repair, or maintain any electrical wiring and a master electrician to be responsible for the work. Electrical work also requires that a permit be pulled from the municipality. In many cases, uncertified radon contractors will perform their own electrical work to save on costs so they can undercut certified companies when performing estimates. Not only is this incredibly dangerous, but if the inspector comes around and finds that there wasn’t a permit pulled for the radon mitigation system electrical hook up, both you and the contractor will receive a steep fine. At Lifetime Radon Solutions, Inc. we work with a master electrician that offers a flat rate to all of our customers, so you can rest easy that any electrical work will be done correctly with the proper permitting in place. Click HERE to learn more about the dangers of hiring a radon company that doesn't utilize licensed electricians.
It’s not often that we hear of these situations occurring, however it has happened that an uncertified contractor caused a home fire due to shoddy electrical work. As mentioned before, any electrical work for the radon fan hook up must be done by a master electrician or you risk a fine or even a fire. As for carbon monoxide, one example is that there are certain homes that have what we call “weeping wall” — which is basically an open gap between the wall and floor that allows water to run down the basement walls and back into the drain-tile. If this weeping wall is left open when a radon mitigation system is installed, the air being pulled from the system will not be exclusively pulling from the soil, but instead will be pulling from those openings in the basement. If the home has an older water heater, this can draw out the carbon monoxide from the water heater and “backdraft” it through the living space. Certified companies train their installers to look out for these things and will seal that weeping wall down during install, however many uncertified contractors will overlook this to save time and money.
The vast majority of uncertified contractors are one man operations, which means it can be tough to reach them. Additionally, they make money off of initial installs, not service calls on systems they have already installed. So what we hear on a daily basis from new customers calling in is that they cannot get a hold of the company that installed their system when they need them the most. Most of the main radon fan brands offer a warranty that can only be used by the purchaser, so if you cannot reach the company you had your system installed by, you may have to pay for an entirely new fan and the service charge with a different company that you can actually contact. This is by far the biggest factor to consider if you are planning on living in the home you are installing the system in for longer than a few years.
Unfortunately we have run into some really poorly installed systems from uncertified contractors that have to be removed and entirely replaced. There is an alarming trend of uncertified installers placing the fan in the basement and piping the system right out of the side of the home without venting above the roofline. While this could be a good “aesthetic option” and is easy to install, it is absolutely not up to the radon standards set forth by ANSI/AARST and will be flagged on inspection. When this type of system gets flagged, you will have to pay a company like ours to come out and remove the old system and then install an entirely new system. So by saving a few bucks on the initial install, you may have to to pay double in the long run. It is always best to have your system installed properly the first time even if it costs a couple hundred dollars more.
We aren’t saying that every single uncertified and inexperienced contractor will cause major issues, however you do run a much higher risk of these things happening when you go with an uncertified company. Not every installer at the company needs to be certified, but make sure that the company you choose at least has a few certified technicians and some experience in the industry. Lifetime Radon Solutions, Inc. is a member of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) and our technicians are certified for radon mitigation and radon testing by the National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP). Give us a call for a free quote!
Lifetime Radon Solutions Inc.
1. Referring Radon Mitigation Contractors That Do Not Use Licensed Electricians And/Or Don’t Pull Permits for the Electrical Activation of the Radon System.
While price is extremely important, make sure the mitigation company installing your system isn’t less expensive because they are wiring the fan themselves. This can ABSOLUTELY kill real estate deals and we hear about it from our customers nearly EVERY DAY. Here’s why it is not a good idea to use mitigation contractors that do their own electrical and/or don’t hire a licensed electrician to pull the proper permits and install the proper electrical disconnect enumerated in the Wisconsin State Electrical Code.
1. Most radon mitigation contractors ARE NOT licensed electricians so their liability insurance coverage typically does not cover damage or issues related to the homes electrical system. That is, if the unlicensed contractor were to improperly wire the radon system and that ultimately caused electrical damage to the home or harm to any persons on site, the contractors liability coverage would more than likely deny the claim (ultimately leaving the homeowner on the hook) because the contractor would be working outside of their professional scope of work. REMEMBER, ELECTRICAL CURRENT IS NOTHING TO MESS AROUND WITH... not only can electrical issues be extremely expensive to fix but residential electrical current can also be extremely dangerous for both the contractor or anyone home during the install.
2. It is technically against the law. The State of Wisconsin Electrical Code clearly states that licensed electrical contractors should be the only ones doing electrical work. While this may seem frivolous to some (or as one agent told me “it’s like speeding—everyone does it!”) doing anything ILLEGAL in a serious, legal transaction, like real estate, is a huge risk. While hiring a contractor that does their own electrical may save you some money, paying a little extra to do things the right way is more than worth it to ensure that the agent and their client are not taking on any unnecessary legal risk.
2. Referring Radon Companies that Use Passive Radon Test Kits for Their Retesting
While charcoal radon tests or liquid scintillation radon test kits (both examples of passive test kits commonly used) are a cost effective and helpful tool for many EXISTING homeowners to determine if they have a radon issue, using them as a retest option can absolutely kill real estate deals. Here’s why using passive radon test kits is NOT a good idea in real estate transactions (particularly for retesting).
1. TIMING! While most radon tests kits only take a few days to deploy, you have to wait for both the testing company to process the results as well as rely on the US Postal Service to get the results to the lab in a timely manner. It is startling how many times we get the call “the radon company we used gave my homeowner a radon test kit and it didn’t get to the lab in time so the results came back N/A... can you come out and do a digital test... oh and by the way...we are closing in just a few days!” Moreover, this is even more common during certain times of the year (like the holidays) or right now, during the pandemic, when mail orders for various goods are keeping the postal service busier than ever before.
2. RELYING ON YOU OR YOUR SELLER TO DO THE TEST BEFORE CLOSING! So you hire and pay a radon mitigation contractor to complete a service from start to finish so you can close on the home and ultimately complete your presale contingency. The only problem is, you don’t have the retest results to bring to closing because the contractor left an unopened test kit behind in the vacant property and didn’t tell anyone. Look for a contractor that performs the radon retest for you so you can focus on selling more homes and not worry about whether you or your seller have the time or knowledge to properly administer the test.
3. PASSIVE RADON TEST KIT RETEST RESULTS MAY NOT BE SUFFICIENT FOR CLOSING. As radon in real estate is becoming more commonplace, lenders and title companies are getting more strict and specific with their processes and procedures. Because many passive retests are administered by the homeowner themselves or the listing agent (which brings to light a very obvious conflict of interest) many lenders and title companies are leery of their results. Furthermore, the EPA REQUIRES 2 PASSIVE TEST KITS TO BE PLACED (side-by-side, known as duplicate testing) in their “Homebuyer and Sellers Guide to Radon” While this isn’t overly problematic, when you read the other recommendations and requirements laid out in the Homebuyers and Sellers Guide, its becomes very apparent that a qualified or certified individual really should be administering the test. MOREOVER, MOST CONTRACTORS THAT LEAVE PASSIVE TEST KITS BEHIND RARELY, IF EVER, LEAVE TWO OF THEM!
Lifetime Radon Solutions
If you are a realtor here in Wisconsin, chances are you've had to deal with elevated radon levels in a clients home. Maybe they were on the purchasing side or maybe they were on the listing side. Whatever the case, a high radon test can be stressful to both the buyers and sellers involved in a real estate transaction. Many times, when things are stressful for your client, they can become stressful for you, as the realtor, as well. I am here to tell you that DOES NOT have to be the case! Knowing what radon is, where it is, and how to deal with it before it becomes stressful can be helpful in the future.
With that being said, here are 5 things realtors should know about radon.
1. Radon Gas is a Solvable Issue in ANY Home.
If the home you are representing tests above 4.0pCi/L (the EPA action level for radon gas) you shouldn’t fret. Radon can be lowered to a safe level in every home with the addition of some kind of a radon mitigation system. Radon mitigation systems are custom built for every home, so no matter how the home is built, there will always be a solution. There are multiple fan options, pipe sizes, and proven mitigation techniques designed to tackle any home. If your client is worried about the radon levels in a home they are selling or planning on purchasing, tell them not to worry. For most homes, a radon mitigation system quote can be done over the phone, but if a home is a bit more complex or if the homeowner feels more comfortable meeting in person, quality companies (like us ;) always offer free onsite estimates as well. If you feel that your client’s home is especially complex, it’s best to get an in-person estimate as soon as possible - even if the radon test hasn’t been completed yet. That way, if the levels do come back elevated, a game plan can be put into place and we can get started as soon as possible.
2. Start the Mitigation Process Before the Results Come in.
Radon mitigation installations don’t take as long as other large home improvement projects, but if you need a system installed with passing test results before closing, the process should be started before those initial high test results even come in. We typically schedule about 1-2 weeks out, and once we are on-site for install, the total system installation takes about a half-day. The electronic retesting monitors we use for real estate transactions typically take about 3-days to furnish final retesting results. That is, a 24-hour delay to allow the system to begin working and a 48-hour testing period after that. We take pride in helping realtors get passing test results before closing, so if you are in a situation where you need this project done quickly and efficiently, call us right away!
3. Digital Testing and Payment Options are Your Friends
Digital radon testing devices such as the AirThings Corentium Pro, allow radon professionals to accurately test a home in as little as 48-hours. Companies who have digital testing monitors can complete the entire testing and mitigation process approximately two weeks faster than companies who use charcoal tests (or other forms of passive radon testing) exclusively. Therefore, in timely situations like real estate transactions, we highly recommend using a contractor that offers digital radon retreating as a party of their process. Many times, installing a system as a contingency to close doesn’t allow for two full weeks of extra wait time, so it is important to ask for a digital test whenever dealing with the sale of a home. As for payment options, it’s important to deal with a company that can be flexible. In today's marketplace, many sellers are responsible for a lot of repairs or other expenses during the real estate transaction. We offer the option to “pay out of closing” to make things a little easier for clients who can’t afford the system upfront or need the upfront capital for other projects or expenses.
4. Warranties and Workmanship are Key
No matter what county or area you practice in, there are going to be multiple companies that offer radon testing and radon mitigation services. Going off of price alone can be a risky choice. With some homes, lowering the radon level below the EPA recommended level of 4.0pCi/L can be a very skillful endeavor. You want to make sure that the company you choose has plenty of experience dealing with all types of homes and that they will stand by their work. You also want to test the responsiveness of the company by calling multiple times, asking questions, and learning about their warranties. In our experience, we have heard from far too many realtors and customers that they couldn’t get a hold of the company that did their install once an issue arose with the system. This can be very problematic if the system isn’t working after install and the closing date is right around the corner. Be sure to also watch out for hidden costs, and warranties that will charge you for fixing a system that doesn’t even work after the initial install. Getting the job done in a timely manner and done right should take precedence over “saving” money.
5. Radon Gas Issues Should Not be Pushed to the Side
Unlike an exterior paint job, or fixing a door handle, a radon mitigation system (when needed) is something that can save lives. If a home that your client is buying or selling tests high for radon gas it is important to take action by keeping them informed. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America and the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, radon is responsible for around 21,000 deaths per year in the US. Further, radon gas can attach to dust particles in the air, and when inhaled over long periods of time, it can damage the cells in our lungs. Whether the buyer or the seller pays for the system, or a split cost is negotiated, this crucial home improvement project should absolutely be performed when necessary. We have been heartbroken by far too many stories of loved ones or family pets that have been diagnosed with lung cancer caused by radon gas. Taking action as soon as you know radon is present in a home is the best possible way to prevent all future homeowners from getting exposed!
Lifetime Radon Solutions
In the radon testing and mitigation business we run into some homeowners who are less than happy when faced with the possibility of having to install a radon mitigation system. While it is understandable that most people selling their homes don’t want to pay for home repairs, radon gas isn’t something to mess around with. Tampering with a radon testing unit during a home sale is fraud, and can lead to lawsuits even years after you sell the home. In this post we want to inform you how to get ahead of a radon issue before it shows up during a home sale, and how to “beat a radon test” the right way!
Over the last decade, radon testing has become commonplace in real estate transactions. This is likely due to the increased knowledge of the dangers of radon gas in the home.
Radon gas is a Class A Carcinogen which means it is known to cause cancer in humans. In fact, over 21,000 American's die every year from lung cancer caused by the exposure to toxic radon gas levels (according to the EPA and US Surgeon General's office).
“What is radon?”
Radon is a soil gas that derives from the decay of uranium in the soil. Once it has been formed, radon gas rises from the soil and looks to dissipate into the air. When a home is blocking its path, radon gas can become trapped and begin to seep in through cracks in the foundation, floor gaps, the sump crock, or even the pores of the concrete slab or walls. Once inside of a home, the gas has nowhere to dissipate, so it will begin to build up to unsafe breathing levels. Unfortunately, radon gas is impossible to detect by the human senses as it is a noble gas, so you may not know of its existence in your home until it’s too late. Radon testing is the only way to know if your home has a radon issue.
Charcoal Radon Test Kits vs. Continuous Digital Radon Monitors
Charcoal Test Kits
The most common type of radon test is an at home charcoal radon test kit. Charcoal kits work by absorbing radon particles into a charcoal packet over a set period of time (2-5 days). Once the packet has been exposed for the set period of time, it is sealed up and shipped to a lab to be analyzed. While these kits are inexpensive and very handy for homeowners curious about their radon levels, they should not be used for real estate transactions because they can be easily tampered with. There is nothing on a charcoal radon test kit that can prevent someone from relocating it to the exterior of the home or an upper level of the home to skew the results. Additionally, charcoal kits cannot detect if the windows have been left open, or if there have been significant pressure changes within the home during the test.
Continuous Digital Radon Monitors
The preferred radon testing choice of most realtors and home buyers is the continuous digital radon monitor. Professional digital radon test devices are the fastest and most accurate way to test for radon. At Lifetime Radon, we utilize the AirThings Corentium Pro testing monitor which is calibrated yearly to maintain pinpoint accuracy. The Corentium Pro, and most other professional radon measurement devices, have sensors inside that can detect tampering and pressure changes throughout the duration of the test. This means that if the device is moved in any way, or the windows are opened during the test process, the report will show it and the test will have to be performed again. Always ask your radon testing provider when their device was calibrated and what type of report you will receive once the results come in.
How to Beat a Radon Test the Right Way
Fortunately, harmful levels of radon gas within a home can be fixed. If you are planning to sell your home in the near future and are concerned about failing a radon test, you should perform an at home radon test kit to get an idea of what levels may show up during an inspection. If those levels show a reading above 4.0pCi/L you should consider taking action before you list the home. The installation of a radon mitigation system is the only proven way to reduce radon levels within a structure, indefinitely. Radon mitigation systems work by drawing air out from underneath the home to create a negative pressure which deters rising gases from collecting under the slab and directs them to a safer area away from the home to dissipate into the air. Radon mitigation systems are guaranteed to reduce your radon levels below 4.0pCi/L, and many times even below 1.0pCi/L. Some other websites may claim that opening windows is a good solution to reduce radon levels before and during a radon test. Besides the fact that one would be committing fraud by opening windows during a real estate transaction radon test, opening windows may also skew the results even higher in some cases. Additionally, keeping windows open all year round to vent radon out is not a sustainable solution. In one of our earlier blog posts "Will Opening My Windows Lower My Radon Levels?" we go over 3 main reasons why this is a poor solution to radon issues in a home.
What You Can Do as a Home Buyer
If you are worried that an unscrupulous seller or realtor may try to tamper with the radon test being performed on the home you are purchasing don't worry! There are options to prevent radon testing fraud. You should always request that a digital test be performed by a certified radon testing company when you are in a home sale. Additionally, you should ask when the device being used for testing has been calibrated last to ensure the best possible accuracy. Most professional devices will also provide a full report of movement, pressure changes, and radon levels hour by hour. Because of this, you should request the entire report upon completion. If the radon levels are low on the initial test, you should perform another test of your own once you have moved in to make sure that nothing has changed. Radon levels do fluctuate throughout the year, so the second test may be a bit different than the first, but it should not be an egregious difference.
Cheating on a radon test by opening windows, covering the test with a bag, or moving the device outside is never a good idea. Not only can you get caught quite easily (especially if a digital test is being performed), but you may also be endangering the lives of the next homeowners who will be completely unaware of the harmful radon levels for years to come. If the next homeowners develop lung cancer, and subsequently perform additional radon testing that shows that their radon levels are actually significantly elevated compared to the test results you provided them during the home sale, you could potentially face legal issues. Testing before you list your home, and installing a radon mitigation system if necessary, will not only increase the value of your home, but also prevent the headache of having to rush into an install before the closing.
Lifetime Radon Solutions
As you may have heard from us before, testing your home for radon is an extremely important action to take for your lung health. Radon being the second leading cause of lung cancer (second only to smoking) is something we should all be mindful of no matter where we reside. Once you have taken the crucial first step in testing your home for radon some of you may get an undesirable result in the form of an elevated radon test result. Having your home test high for radon can be a very stressful thing, so what is the next step? In this article we are going to go over the easiest and least stressful plan of attack to rid your home of radon gas.
Step 1: Learn More About Your Test Reading
Once you have received your test results, give your local radon mitigation expert a call and have them explain what those results mean. If you live in the U.S, the EPA recommends taking action if your home tests at 4.0 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or above. The World Health Organization however has taken a more cautious approach to their recommendation and sets their action level at 2.7 pCi/L.
What is a picocurie? In layman's terms, a picocurie is the way we measure the rate of radioactive decay of radon. To get a little more technical, the Kansas State national radon program describes a picocurie as “one trillionth of a curie, 0.037 disintegrations per second, or 2.22 disintegrations per minute. Therefore, at 4pCi/L (picocuries per liter - the EPA's recommended action level), there will be approximately 12,672 radioactive disintegrations in one liter of air during a 24-hour period.” (Kansas State University, "Radon Basics"). As a general rule of thumb, consulting a radon professional is recommended for any radon test result you receive-whether it is elevated or lower than the recommended action level.
Step 2: Find the Right Radon Mitigation Company to Work With
If you live in an area that is known to have a high probability of elevated radon levels (Check out this radon map to see what radon zone you live in) there will be many different radon mitigation companies to choose from.
How can you differentiate each company and choose the best one?
In our experience, a good radon company has the following:
Step 3: Have a Radon Mitigation System Installed
Once you have picked the right company to install a radon mitigation system in your home, it’s time to start the install. As mentioned before, there are multiple options for mitigation depending on the home. The three main factors a good radon company will consider with regard to placement of the system are aesthetics, effectiveness, and EPA/AARST/NRPP standards. When the radon technician enters your home for the first time, ask them to show you multiple options for install and their thought processes behind each location. You may then choose which spot you are most comfortable having the system placed. In many homes, the only option is the run the radon system from the basement to the exterior of the home to vent above the roofline. However if the home has an attached garage and unfinished basement sharing a common wall with said garage, the system can be run up through the garage to vent through the roof for a more aesthetically pleasing option. Click HERE to read more about garage vs. exterior venting options.
Step 4: Keep Up With Retesting and Minor Maintenance.
After you’ve had a radon mitigation system installed in your home and retested with acceptable results, you can finally relax for a while. Radon systems do not require too much maintenance from the homeowner, the main things we recommend that you do are:
So as you can see, maintaining your radon mitigation system is very simple and painless. If you have any issues with your system such as a loud fan, or a loss of vacuum pressure, give your installer a call!
Step 5: Inform your Friends and Family
Radon gas is not something to take lightly and unfortunately much of the public is unaware of its dangers. If you have a good experience with the company that installed your system, tell your friends and family! A referral to a radon company can save lives! Thank you for taking the time to read up about radon mitigation! You will not regret this crucial home improvement project once it’s installed. Stay safe!
Lifetime Radon Solutions
If you are not familiar with the harmful effects of radon gas, you are not alone. In our experience, around half of the people that have called into our company, or have met us at various trade shows, have not heard of radon or its harmful effects until they decided to sell their home. Radon testing and mitigation are very commonly associated with real estate transactions because of how few homes are tested for radon prior to a home inspection. Radon testing being included as part of a home inspection is a fairly recent development, so most homes that have been lived in for a long period of time probably have never been tested for radon. This is, unless the owner of the home took it upon themselves to get a radon test kit or have a company come out and test their home for radon.
With little awareness and education out there about radon (currently the federal radon program is defunded), many people get rightly confused or angry about the possibility of having to install a radon mitigation system on the home they are selling. In this article, we want to not only raise awareness about the harmful effects of radon gas, but also encourage everyone to have their home tested for radon even if one doesn't plan on selling or buying a new home.
With that being said, here are a few reasons you should start caring about radon:
1. RADON GAS IS KNOWN TO CAUSE LUNG CANCER
Radon gas is a Class A carcinogen, meaning it is known to cause cancer in humans (lung cancer specifically). Radon decays at a fast rate and gives off small radioactive particles that can attach themselves to things like moisture or dust in the air. When inhaled, over a long period of time, this can cause damage to the cells that are in the lining of the lungs. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and can affect anyone. No matter your age, race, or prior medical conditions you can be susceptible to the harmful effects of radon. Out of the five main causes of lung cancer which include smoking, radon gas, asbestos, pollution, and genetics; radon gas ranks second only to smoking in the number of lung cancer cases caused. If you are a smoker, your odds of getting lung cancer are increased substantially if your home has an elevated radon level. At Lifetime Radon Solutions, we feel that the possible health effects radon can cause is more than enough of a reason to have your home tested. Radon testing is easy and affordable to do.
2. PETS ARE AFFECTED BY RADON GAS TOO
Humans are not the only ones who can get lung cancer from elevated radon levels in their home. In fact, household pets can be more susceptible to the ill effects of elevated radon levels in a home because of their higher respiratory rate, and their propensity to be low to the ground (where radon levels are at their highest). Many cats and dogs love to hang out in the basement and even sleep down there. Due to radon’s tendency to build up in the lowest level of the home, this can cause significant harm to your pets if they are exposed for lengthy periods of time. Unfortunately, we have heard of many cases where a family’s beloved pet developed lung cancer likely due to radon exposure. Taking action by properly testing your home and installing a radon mitigation system if necessary can not only protect your own health, but the health of your furry friends as well.
3. HOMEOWNERS ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES AFFECTED
It is a common misconception that radon gas can only build up in residential homes and smaller structures. Radon gas can become trapped in any structure, no matter how large. We have received elevated radon test results from apartments, condos, office buildings, storefronts, factories, and schools. Fortunately, even large buildings can be mitigated to a safe level. The unfortunate part is, many times these types of buildings are not tested or mitigated. If you live, work, or go to school in one of these larger structures, it is important to ask the owner of the building if they have conducted a radon test in the past. If they have not, you should request that one be done. You can personally test your apartment, or condo with a charcoal testing kit or have a company like Lifetime Radon Solutions bring in a digital testing monitor. However, if mitigation is necessary, the owner of the building must approve of the system being installed on their property.
4. HAVING BEDROOMS OR EXERCISE ROOMS IN YOUR BASEMENT MAY PUT YOU AT A HIGHER RISK
We believe it is necessary to test your home no matter how it is constructed. However, it is especially important to take action if you have a bedroom or exercise area in the lowest level of your residence. If you sleep downstairs, you could possibly be consistently breathing in elevated radon levels for 6-10 hours every single night. As for having an exercise room in the basement, staying healthy by working out could end up being counterproductive if you are doing it in an area that has dangerous levels of radon gas. Your increased respiratory rate from exercising paired with being low to the ground during certain exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups, yoga, etc. can put you at a higher risk than normal. If you have either a bedroom or an exercise room in your basement, we would highly suggest installing a radon mitigation system no matter what.
5. RADON LEVELS CAN BE ELEVATED ON UPPER FLOORS AS WELL; NOT JUST IN THE BASEMENT.
“Why should I test my basement if it's rarely used?”
We hear this statement a lot from the general public regarding testing their home for radon. While there is generally a smaller risk of radon exposure if you don’t use your basement, this isn’t always the case. Some homes can have such a high concentration of radon gas in the lowest level of the home that the radon levels on the next floor can creep up into the danger zone as well. This is why we urge every single homeowner to perform a radon test no matter how the home is built or used. We have seen some extremely high radon test readings in the past from homes with unfinished basements, and many of them have tested high on the main floor as well after further examination.
Our motto is “Why Risk It?” because there is no reason to risk radon exposure when radon testing is extremely affordable and fast.
In conclusion, we at Lifetime Radon feel that radon awareness is very important. Whatever your reason is, whether it be your health, your family's health, your pet’s health, or to increase the value of your home, TEST YOUR HOME FOR RADON! You will not regret it. Stay safe everyone!
Lifetime Radon Solutions
We have had a lot of concerned homeowners call us and ask questions about the health effects that they may experience after living in a home with elevated levels of radon gas. The term “radon poisoning” seems to come up a lot in their questions.
For instance, “What is radon poisoning?” or “What symptoms are involved in radon poisoning?”
To be clear, it’s not really poisoning that is occurring in your body when you are exposed to elevated radon levels. As radon-222 decays (it has a half life of approximately 3.8 days) radon produces what is known as radon daughter particles, which can attach to, or “plate on to,” things like water vapor, dust, pet dander or smoke in the air. When inhaled, over an extended period of time, these radioactive particles can damage the cells in your lungs and ultimately cause lung cancer. Similar to asbestos, radon typically takes years of exposure to cause cancer. Unfortunately, this causes a lot of people to put off having radon removed from their homes.
Simply because radon gas is not usually an imminent concern or danger, does not mean it shouldn’t be addressed quickly. Most of us spend the majority of our time at home, so being exposed to dangerous radon levels for years is pretty easy to accomplish, especially if no action is taken. The majority of homeowners have at least one carbon monoxide detector in their home, which is great, but what most people don’t know is that radon gas causes approximately 20,500 more deaths per year than carbon monoxide does! Similarly, everyone should also have a smoke alarm in their home, and while that is extremely important, deaths from house fires in the U.S. in 2018 were 3,655 while radon related lung cancer deaths were estimated at between 21,000 and 29,000 that same year. If everyone is willing to purchase a carbon monoxide detector or smoke alarm for their home, what is holding them back from purchasing a radon test kit?
What are the symptoms of radon exposure?
Radon is a noble gas, which means it cannot be detected by any of our human senses. So we won’t be able to feel the effects of elevated radon levels until it’s too late. The only way to detect radon in a home is to do proper radon testing (which you can read about HERE). The symptoms of radon exposure will only be felt if you develop lung cancer from it. Here are some of the symptoms of lung cancer caused by radon gas exposure:
Many of these symptoms only occur in the advanced stage of the cancer, so it is vital to reduce your risk of getting lung cancer as soon as you can. Therefore, as you can see, the symptoms of radon exposure are not as noticeable as say carbon monoxide exposure or chlorine gas exposure, however the end result can be just as deadly.
Steps you can take to reduce your risk of radon exposure:
In conclusion, radon gas is not something you should ignore simply because it doesn’t have an instant impact. Be proactive in testing your home regularly and taking the proper steps to mitigate if your home tests high. If you have questions about radon testing, radon mitigation, or the impact of radon on your lung health, give us a call today!
We have provided radon testing and mitigation services throughout the state of Wisconsin for over two decades. Even if you don’t live in Wisconsin, that’s ok! We’re happy to answer any and all of your questions regardless of where you reside!
Lifetime Radon Solutions Inc.
“What is radon?”
“Why is this just coming up now?”
“I never had an issue during my time living in the home!”
“Should I be concerned about my health now?”
“How fast can this get done? I have to close on the home soon!”
“How much does it cost to mitigate radon?”
We hear these questions and statements almost daily from homeowners in the process of selling their homes. A lot of you reading this probably have the same type of questions, and for good reason! Many times, the high radon test comes as a surprise to the current owners and causes a lot of stress for all parties involved, especially if there's a tight closing date in play. More and more buyers are demanding that radon testing be performed before purchasing a house. If the radon test fails, the buyer will make the sale contingent on the installation of a radon mitigation system similar to other home repairs like roof and plumbing work. So, to take a little bit of stress off of you as a home seller, here are five things you should know about radon!
1. Radon can’t be seen, smelled, or felt, but it is a harmful carcinogen.
Simply because radon cannot be detected by the human senses, that doesn’t mean it’s not a threat. Radon gas comes from the decay of uranium in the soil and when it rises up from the soil under your home, it can get trapped and sucked into your basement due to the pressure differential between the soil and the home. Radon gas becomes harmful as it decays because it gives off radioactive particles that damage the lining of the lungs, and over time this can cause lung cancer in both humans and animals. We get a lot of calls from upset home sellers who are obligated to fix the radon problem in their home before being able to close. Usually it’s one of two reasons why they are concerned. Either they think radon is a myth or a hoax because they haven’t been affected by it when they were living in the home, or they are concerned for their health going forward because they were unaware that they had been living in elevated radon levels for years. Radon typically takes years to take effect on the body if at all. Everyone’s body is different, so simply because you were not affected, that does not mean that the new homeowners will not be.
2. Radon has always been an issue
Radon gas has always been a threat even if you had never heard about it until now. Similar to how asbestos became something to watch out for, radon gas wasn't fully understood or taken seriously until semi-recently. Even as more information comes out about its dangers, public awareness about radon is still very low. More and more states are starting to regulate radon mitigation and radon testing and urging homeowners to take action. Radon mitigation isn’t a new fad, or trend that will fade out after a few years. Mitigation is a proven method to keep radon gas out of residential homes and commercial properties indefinitely, protecting the occupants inside.
3.You should be aware of radons effects, but don’t panic
We are writing this article mostly to inform you to the reasons why the buyers of your home feel it is important to install a radon mitigation system, not to scare you. If you feel like you have been exposed to high amounts of radon over a long period of time and are worried about your lung health, talk to your doctor. They will be able to give you more information and check if you have had any lasting effects. As mentioned before, radon can take a long time to take effect and everyone is different. You could be completely fine, but the next homeowner could be the ones affected. Knowing more about radon gas and how to prevent it in your next home will only help you when making the next purchase and with your future lung health. The EPA, the CDC and the American Lung Association all have great information on their websites regarding the effects of radon gas if you wish to explore more.
4. Radon mitigation can be a painless process, and the pricing depends on your home
Radon mitigation is a half day job for an experienced and certified mitigator, and typically we schedule installations about a week out, but can usually make accommodations for tight closings if needed. Estimates for radon mitigation systems can be given over the phone, through email or in person with a proposal sent to you via email in minutes. The price for radon mitigation largely depends on how your home is built. Typical prices for residential radon mitigation systems are between $800-$1500. For real estate transactions we can install the system for you and do the retesting digitally to get you the results in as little as 3 days after the installation to ensure that you have all the paperwork before you close. We have been in business for over 21 years, and in that time we have perfected the radon mitigation process to make it as painless as possible for our customers. We have a full time office staff and multiple installers, so you can be sure that we will answer the phone for radon related questions and estimates, and we won’t be booking out further than a week or two to do the installation.
5. Your next home should be tested as well
If you're moving to another residential home you should request a radon test at that property too. Now that you know the effects of radon gas, you might as well reap the health benefits of a radon system at home you will be living in for years to come. You will most likely have to install a radon mitigation system at the home you are selling, so why not find out what the levels are at your new home and work out a deal with that seller to mitigate that home as well? Don’t risk your health any longer! Radon testing and mitigation saves lives. If you live in Wisconsin or Minnesota, call us anytime for radon testing and mitigation questions as well as a free quote! If you live outside of our service area, feel free to call anyway, we can guide you through the process and let you know what to look out for when choosing the right contractor for the job.
Lifetime Radon Solutions