Radon test inspection - Anyone know of this and is it necessary?

15 Replies

Hey guys I'm buying a property in mid coast Maine. I currently own a property there which I've had for 15 years, but this time around the inspector is asking if I want to do a Randon air and water test. I had no idea what he was talking about. I spoke with my contractor who said Radon is becoming more apparent in the region and according to the pamphlet the inspector sent it can cause cancer.

Does anyone have experience with this? If there is Radon in the air at the, should I back out of the deal or is this fixable? And if so, does anyone know how much it would cost to fix this? Having this in it's history would I need to disclose this in the future and could this possibly affect he resale value down the road?

Thanks for you!

Kaylyn

Almost everything is fixable. Radon is an odorless gas that, in high concentrations, can cause cancer. It is also super easy to fix, and costs very little if you do it yourself. The fix basically seals the floor of the basement, sucks the air underneath it and blows it out the side through a tube/fan combination. PVC pipe plus a fan.

Ask your agent if radon is prevalent in the area. My area is rife with radon, and radon mitigation systems are everywhere.

If this isn't a concern in your area, then your inspector is covering his backside.

it is very inexpensive can can save lives 

Yes Radon is a poisonous gas that usually if present will penetrate the building from underground. I would research in on the internet. You will find a sloop of articles on it so you can at least  become familiar with it. I would not buy any property with a history of Radon at the location. Just too much liability. It can not only cause cancer but death. 

Really good to do due diligence on this one.

@Kaylyn T.

  radon piping is mandatory in most jurisdictions for new construction.. its just another vent pipe basically.. I have only had one client do a radon test on a new construction that already had the piping and he was a doctor... checked out fine.

but yes we install them in each new build.

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@Kaylyn T.

Many parts of Maine and the Maritime provinces (to the east and north) have pockets with high radon concentrations.   It is advisable, particularly in older properties with dirt floors in the cellars or crawl-spaces.  If the property is in a place known to have high radon concentrations, I would test any building constructed w/o external soil ventilation.

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Thanks for the feedback @Steven Picker, @Jay Hinrichs. @Mindy Johnson yes radon is apparently becoming more prevalent throughout the area. I'm curious @Gilbert Dominguez, if you have had properties that have tested positive for radon and if so, have you elected to not buy because of that? I definitely respect your opinion on this and would like to learn more. The others on here are giving me the impression that it is an easy fix. I'm interested to know if it could possibly affect the resale value of the house? Or are the fixes not 100%? I do intend to keep it for several years so it's not a flip, but would assume I would have to disclose this information at sale. Anyone had problems selling after fixing a radon problem? Thanks!

Hi Kaylyn-

We have pockets of radon here on Michigan, not usually in the water but they find it seeping through basement walls.  We opted out of the $100 test during past purchase inspections, but went ahead with it for a house that had living area in the basement.  In that case where it is in the air only, installing a remediation system costs about $1500 plus the electricity to run it- comparable to a 40w bulb.  Well worth the piece of mind!

Kelly

Thanks @Kelly N. for your reply and telling me about your experience.

Radon is very common in Maine in both the air and water.  It can be mitigated, but costs a few thousand, depending on the mitigation method.  If you have an old fieldstone foundation and dirt floor, it will cost more because you'll need to seal it somehow.  Yes, radiation causes cancer, but nobody really knows exactly how much exposure is too much, so they set the "actionable limits" for radon pretty low.  You can look them up for water and air.

An interesting side note, if you superimpose a map of the U.S. showing cancer rates over a map showing radon levels, you will find no correlation.

Testing has become routine during due diligence prior to a sale.  If it's high, you can negotiate who pays for mitigation as long as you haven't missed the inspection contingency period.  Yes, you will need to disclose that it has been tested and what the level is in the future when you sell.  If you have it mitigated you disclose that as well.   With radon so common, you would really limit your options if you don't buy anything with radon.

 The house I live in has radon in the water and air, but the previous owner lived here most of her life and died at 93 years old.  I'm not really concerned, but will have to do something about it when I sell the house.  We reduced the level a lot just by filling in an area of bare earth with concrete in the cellar.   Also, if you are renting the home, you'll have to have it tested every 10 years and disclose the results to tenants.  You don't have to mitigate, but they can get out of the lease if the radon is high.

This is something to think of if you flip foreclosures.  Banks don't disclose anything, including radon and typically sell houses "as is".  Therefore, pad your expense numbers a bit in case it comes up.

Thanks for the detailed response @Amy A. . I'm definitely going to get the test done as the house was built in 1890 and does have a dirt floor. Interesting that my other house in the area also has a dirt floor, but I bought that 15+ years ago so I'm guessing this has become a bigger deal since then. Also, thanks for reminding about the due diligence period. I need to double check my deadlines! Kaylyn

Originally posted by @Kaylyn T. :

Hey guys I'm buying a property in mid coast Maine. I currently own a property there which I've had for 15 years, but this time around the inspector is asking if I want to do a Randon air and water test. I had no idea what he was talking about. I spoke with my contractor who said Radon is becoming more apparent in the region and according to the pamphlet the inspector sent it can cause cancer.

Does anyone have experience with this? If there is Radon in the air at the, should I back out of the deal or is this fixable? And if so, does anyone know how much it would cost to fix this? Having this in it's history would I need to disclose this in the future and could this possibly affect he resale value down the road?

Thanks for you!

Kaylyn

 Well if you saw it on the Internet, then it must be true. Honestly, do you honestly believe all,this nonsense LOL.

Only in the good old USA would this kind of thing get traction. The EPA claims it's a real danger and is life threatening. But can you really believe anything these days coming from any Govt agency. It gained popularity way back in California. Where else? 

If radon gas exists then it's been around for hundreds maybe thousands of years. 

I've bought and sold close to 50 houses in my time. How many have gone thru a radon gas test...ZERO!! But if you do your research, I'm sure you will get various opinions coming from both sides of the argument. I choose to ignore it and move on. I've got more important things to worry about. Take it with a grain of salt IMHO. Good luck. 

Originally posted by @Blanchard J Ross :

 Well if you saw it on the Internet, then it must be true. Honestly, do you honestly believe all,this nonsense LOL.

Only in the good old USA would this kind of thing get traction. The EPA claims it's a real danger and is life threatening. But can you really believe anything these days coming from any Govt agency. It gained popularity way back in California. Where else? 

If radon gas exists then it's been around for hundreds maybe thousands of years. 

I've bought and sold close to 50 houses in my time. How many have gone thru a radon gas test...ZERO!! But if you do your research, I'm sure you will get various opinions coming from both sides of the argument. I choose to ignore it and move on. I've got more important things to worry about. Take it with a grain of salt IMHO. Good luck. 

Radon has been around as long as dirt.   It has always been toxic, just for much of our history we've had bigger challenges and didn't live long enough as individuals to suffer the effects of radon.    

In addition, until recently humans have not built efficient housing.  When our homes were caves, or uninsulated, draughty houses with 10 - 12 air changes per hour, radon was able to be dispersed.   Radon becomes more of an issue as we construct tighter building envelopes which permits the gas to concentrate inside the home unless measures are taken to prevent it from entering the living space in the first place. 

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I think it depends on the frequency of your area.   If you want some interesting reading, Google "Stanley Watras".  He worked at a nuclear power plant in Limerick, PA while it was under construction.  He set off the radiation detectors on his way IN to work.  The crazy thing is, there was no nuclear product at the site.  He was exposed at his house.  He lives in Berks County, as do I.  When I sold my last personal residence and had it tested for Radon, Mr. Watras himself showed up to do the testing.  Our reading was significantly high.  So was the house I bought, along with most of my acquaintances who bought property.  It's more common than not around here.  I believe it was $1,000-1500 all together.  It's well worth it, in my opinion for peace of mind.

Radon has become a big business which is why you are now hearing about it but you didn't 15 years ago. It is another one of those thing that once it gains traction you won't ever get rid of it even if the chances of you getting cancer from it are minimal. Radon causes less that 1% of cancer deaths that don't have other contributing factors (such as smoking). Even with all cases it still only accounts for 3% of cancer deaths a year. There are so many bigger problems to focus on but this one creates the most profit for company's that deal with it. Just my 2 cents

Thanks everyone for the feedback. We'll see what happens after the test comes back. Very grateful for all of your responses! Kaylyn