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Buying a Home With High Radon

Red = over 50% homes high risk average radon above 4 pCi/L; Orange = moderate risk radon average between 2 and 4 pCi/L; Yellow = average home is low risk radon average below 2 pCi/L. All homes in NY should be tested for radon.

Red = over 50% homes high risk average radon above 4 pCi/L; Orange = moderate risk radon average between 2 and 4 pCi/L; Yellow = average home is low risk radon average below 2 pCi/L. All homes in NY should be tested for radon.

In many areas of the country like central New York the majority of homes have high radon. This is why most home purchase agreements are contingent upon a radon test. When those radon test results come back at or above the EPA action level of 4.0 picocuries, most sellers are willing to negotiate in order to save the deal. Usually they will have a radon mitigation system installed or issue a credit to the buyers for the cost of a system.

Don’t sweat it, all homes can be successfully mitigated for radon, reducing it to an acceptable level. Buying a home with high radon is not a problem. I have successfully mitigated radon in hundreds of homes to below 4 pCi/L and most to well below 2 pCi/L. It is true some homes are more difficult to mitigate than others, and some will cost more to mitigate than others, but with the majority of homes it is pretty straight forward and the average cost of a good quality radon mitigation system installation is about $1500.

Be Sure You as a Buyer Negotiate Who Installs the Radon Mitigation System, or get a credit so you can have a quality system installed after you move in. Unfortunately most home buyers don’t do this. Think about it, your radon test comes back high, you want if fixed before you move in and negotiate to buy the house as long as the radon level is reduced to below 4 pCi/L, most sellers simply look to hire whoever can get it done for the cheapest price.

The home buyer should be the one to choose or approve of the radon mitigation contractor and system. This will require doing a little homework – i.e. read the rest of this page for starters. If you choose a quality radon mitigation contractor, have them do an estimate, then you can negotiate for the cost of the system and have them install it or get a credit and get it installed after you move in. Then you are in control of the quality, aesthetics, location of system, etc.

Most radon mitigation bids are geared for people selling their homes who don’t really care about quality, aesthetics or dependability  of the mitigation system down the road, as long as it reduces the radon for the sale of the home. Hiring the cheapest company or person to install a radon mitigation system will usually results in substandard system with little or no real warranty.

A substandard radon system is one not installed according to accepted standards.

The standards for radon mitigation describe proper installation, and materials to be used to ensure proper and safe operation and longevity of the system. To see some examples substandard radon systems see my page on Improper and Poor Radon Mitigation Jobs.

Require a Third Party Post Mitigation Radon Test if a radon mitigation system is installed prior to closing. This will help ensure the system is working properly. An ideal post mitigation radon test result would have an average below 2 picocuries, the lower the better. For real estate transactions usually anything below 4.0 pCi/L is considered acceptable, but most people would not comfortable with 3.9 pCi/L especially if a radon mitigation system is installed. As a buyer its not a bad idea to have your own post mitigation test conducted to confirm proper operation of the system and to ensure an accurate radon test was performed.

“Fraud!” Home Buyers Need to be Wise as Serpents

Understand that home sellers, realtors and radon contractors are all aware of what’s riding on radon test results conducted during a home sale. This goes for the initial radon testing at time of home inspection as well as post mitigation radon tests that certify satisfactory system operation. They are well aware that high radon test results could jeopardize the sale and or cost them money in repairs or lost commissions. Realtors, radon contractors and most home owners are also aware that is is not too difficult to cheat or effect the radon test results in their favor by opening windows or doors or by other means after the inspector or tester leaves the home. See Fraudulent Radon Testing.

AIRCHEKTo Be Safe, Conduct Your Own Follow Radon Up Test after you are in the home. Certainly most people who commit radon testing fraud get away with it and in most cases it goes undetected for many years. Not until the home is re-tested are people surprised with higher radon test results. This usually occurs when the home is being sold again and a new buyer has a radon test performed.

 After moving into your new home its a good idea to do a confirmation radon test to confirm a safe radon level. Self test radon kits are cheap and sometimes free. For under $25 you can conduct your own radon test just, it worth it to breathe safely. You can get a radon test kit form NY State for $11.00 a great deal if you are not in a hurry. Fill out the form and mail them a check, it takes 6 to 8 week or more to get the test and up to 3 months or more to get the results. Go here for $11.00 (NY only) radon test kit.

Long term radon testing gives a better overall average. Radon levels can fluctuate a lot from day to day and season to season. After a short term confirmation test (usually 2-3 days in length) you may want to conduct a more accurate long term radon test (usually 6 -12 months). For more information on which type of radon test is best for your circumstances see Determining the Best Type of Radon Test.

Do your own Post Mitigation Radon Test to confirm the system is working properly. Unknowingly many home owners don’t realize they should have a test done after the radon mitigation system is installed. Many radon contractors do not perform or provide a post mitigation test to determine if their system is even working. Even if the radon contractor does a test, be sure to do your own test for confirmation. Being in the business I know how easy it is to cheat on these tests, be smart and be safe, re-test.

Free Post Mitigation Radon Test for New York residents who have had a radon mitigation system installed within a year. Simply contact the New York State Department of health at this web link.

NOTE: The post mitigation radon test should be done within the initial 30 days of system operation.

The Radon Level is Much Higher Than When We Bought the House – Often I hear from people when selling their homes after buyers have a radon test done, “The radon results are many times higher than when they bought the house.” In some cases this could be attributed to fraud but more likely it’s usually due to energy efficient improvements that have been made since the last test. The more energy efficient a home is, the better it holds in heat and also the better it hold on to radon.  High efficiency comes at the the sacrifice of fresh air ventilation. For more info see page on Why You Need to Test and Re-Test for Radon.

Even More So With Mitigation Systems – Higher radon levels when selling seems to be more the case in homes with radon mitigation systems. For the same reasons as listed above or due to failing or inadequate radon system installation. I’m always confounded at people who had radon mitigation systems installed and never had a post mitigation test to confirm the system was working properly. The just assumed the system was in and the radon was gone. Pretty trusting souls. A good radon contractor will conduct their own radon test to confirm satisfactory operation and also provide some type of third party post mitigation radon test. This is what I do, I conduct my own radon test to certify satisfactory operation of the mitigation system and provide a third party test kit that includes laboratory analysis fees for the home owner to confirm proper system operation.

The EPA Recommends Re-Testing Radon Every 2 Years in Homes With Active Radon Mitigation Systems – This is to help ensure the system is operating properly and maintaining safe radon levels. Along with this I want to restate the importance of a post mitigation radon test to ensure the system is working after it is installed. NY State provides a free post mitigation radon test kit to home owners up to one year after having a radon mitigation systems installed. They recommend the test be done within 30 days of system installation. Go here for free post mitigation radon test.

Call Tom Francis at Best Home Inspection, 315-439-1103 for Professional Radon Testing  or Radon Mitigation Serving Central New York area. Comprehensive radon mitigation estimates are free of charge in all of Central New York.

Leave Your Comments on buying a home with high radon or if you have any examples of radon testing fraud I would be glad to hear them, just leave a comment below. I believe its important for people to be aware of potential fraud  to help defend against it. Thanks for reading.