One of the first things prospective buyers notice about a home is curb appeal. Trimmed trees and shrubs and a tidy front porch often result in more showings.
While landscaping and other exterior features of a home draw attention, safety matters too. Buyers should watch out for obvious hazards such as unprotected outlets and structural issues. What about radon?
In the state of Pennsylvania, around 40 percent of homes test positive for elevated radon levels. Many buyers wonder, should I buy a home with a radon mitigation system?
Reading today’s post will answer your questions about radon gas mitigation. After reading the article, you should feel confident about buying a home with a mitigation system already installed.
Before we get further into the details about radon mitigation systems, let’s look briefly at radon gas and why it’s a concern for home buyers.
What Is Radon Gas?
Unless you paid close attention in chemistry class, you might not remember details about noble gases. Radon (Rn) is one of the noble gases, meaning it’s chemically inactive and only combines with other substances under the right conditions.
Knowing that radon gas is inert may cause people to think it’s harmless. The scientific community has a different opinion.
Radon gas is radioactive and a known cancer agent. It’s second in line after cigarette smoking as a leading cause of lung cancer.
Radon and Your New Home
Most buildings, including residential properties, have the foundation built into the ground. Any building can sit on soil containing natural uranium deposits.
Radon results from the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil. Radioactive decay processes produce radon gas.
Without proper ventilation, the gas gets trapped. High radon levels are often found in basements and crawl spaces because they’re enclosed and close to the ground.
Even the materials used to build homes may give off radon. Although radon levels in building materials aren’t likely high enough to be dangerous, off-gassing from concrete, wallboard, and granite countertops can raise radon levels inside a house.
How Do I Know Radon Exists on a Property?
Most dangerous substances come with a warning label. Radon does not! Because it’s odorless and colorless, there won’t be obvious signs of a radon problem in homes for sale.
Sellers usually don’t proactively test for radon. There’s no legal requirement for a seller to perform a radon test before listing the home. Unless a home inspector or real estate agent suggests it, buyers may not know to request a test.
Testing is the only way to detect the presence of radon gas!
If the seller did not order a pre-listing radon test, most real estate transactions include documentation altering buyers to the possible existence of radon in any home. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends radon testing before a buyer closes on a home.
How to Reduce Radon with Mitigation Systems
Radon mitigation systems are the only way to ensure there aren’t recurring toxic gas levels in a home. Mitigation systems come in a range of designs, including the exterior, attic, and crawlspace installations.
For aesthetic reasons, most homeowners prefer interior installation.
Installers run the system pipes inside the house to an attic or attached garage. For better efficiency, interior installations can reduce condensation produced by the system and promote longer fan life. Another common installation point is in the basin of a sump pump.
In some cases, there’s no alternative than to use an outdoor mitigation system. From an installation point of view, installing the system on the home’s exterior is easier. There’s certainly no way to disguise a radon mitigation system running down the outside of a house.
Mitigation works through a range of techniques, including:
- Sub-Slab Depressurization
- Sub-Membrane Depressurization
- Indoor and Outdoor Air Exchange
Radon mitigation systems don’t get rid of radon gas, but they can reduce radon levels to an acceptable level. The EPA recommends action when a home test indicates radon levels at 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher.
Should I Buy a House with a Radon Mitigation System?
If a seller previously installed a radon mitigation system on the home’s exterior, it’s visible. Sometimes buyers panic when noticing a mitigation system because they associate it with a safety and health hazard. After all, doesn’t installing radon mitigation mean the home already tested high for radon?
While it’s possible the seller tested and discovered a high level of radon gas, sometimes a person is overly cautious about potential health issues. An existing radon mitigation system does not in any way mean the home is tainted. Installing a system doesn’t devalue the home either.
Homes with systems installed indicate someone cared enough to do something to reduce the risk of radon exposure. View a mitigation system as a selling (or buying) point.
Consider the cost of installing a mitigation system. Depending on the size of the home, radon mitigation systems can cost anywhere from $800-$1500. Buying a home with a system installed reduces health risks and saves the buyer from added expenses.
If a home doesn’t come with a mitigation system, make a note to ask the realtor if the seller is willing to negotiate the price based on the potential health hazard. Add this question to the list of questions buyers should ask about any home they’re interested in buying.
Feel Confident Buying a Home with a Mitigation System In Place
Knowing the risk of radon exposure and the cost of installing a system should make any buyer feel confident when buying a home where the seller already took care of radon mitigation. Armed with new knowledge, instead of asking, should I buy a home with a radon mitigation system, ask your home inspector to perform a radon level test.
If the test reveals a high radon gas level, consider asking the seller to help offset the cost of installing a mitigation system. Often you can include the request in your offer or use it as a negation tool.
Are you ready to buy your next home? Contact our team today! We’re committed to helping our clients find and purchase the safest and most charming properties on the market today!