Chances are you don’t worry too much about radon until it is time to buy a home. Be sure to discuss the health risks associated with radon and your concerns with your property home inspector, or you can read about radon on the State of Vermont website. Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the natural decay of uranium, which can be found in nearly all soil types. It can travel through the soil, into the air and into your home through cracks, gaps or the water supply. Radon isn’t picky about the homes it enters, found in all types from new builds to 100-year-old homes. According to the State of Vermont, one in seven homes has elevated levels of radon.
So, how do you know if your home has radon? Having a test done is the only way to check your home’s radon levels. Generally, if you are under contract on a new home, the EPA recommends radon testing before finalizing any real estate transaction. Your property inspector can perform a short-term 48-hour radon test. If the levels come back higher than the EPA limit, 4pCi/l or higher, you may have an opportunity to negotiate a mitigation system with the Sellers.
While short-term tests are common, the State of Vermont recommends doing a long-term test – between 3 and 12 months – and provides a free test kit. You can sign up for a test kit here. These tests are generally performed after a property has already been purchased.
The most common radon mitigation systems rely on fans. Placed in an attic or outside the building, the fans are used to draw air out from under a crawl space, basement, or concrete slab. The fans reroute gases coming from the soil beneath your house to the outside the structure, far enough they can’t re-enter through the windows. Once your mitigation work is complete, you should have your home retested to ensure the radon is gone.