Today’s Home Buyer Tip: Understand Radon and Radon Mitigation Installation Options

Ryan Jenkins

One of our Fort Collins home buyer tips is for buyers to know what they need to know concerning Radon and their homes. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that exists in Colorado and naturally emanates from the ground. While radon exists in very low levels even outside. It becomes a concern when it collects indoors, increasing concentrations. This occurs especially in crawl spaces and basements, and subsequently, the gas ends up in living areas of a home. According to the EPA, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind cigarette smoking and is the leading cause of lung cancer for nonsmokers.

During your home inspection, the inspector will place a radon test kit in the lowest level of the home. The kit will remain in the home for a period of 3 days, at that time, the inspector will provide a written report indicating the radon levels found. The EPA recommends installing a radon mitigation system when levels are above 4.4 pCi/L. (picocuries per liter). The most common systems consist of drilling a 4” core into the basement slab and installing a PVC pipe with a special fan to draw radon gas from beneath the slab, through the PVC pipe and expelling it outside the house. When no slab exists in homes with dirt floor crawlspaces, a vapor barrier may be installed along the dirt to block radon in conjunction with a ventilation system. Radon systems typically run $1,000 to $1,400. It’s common for the seller to pay for these systems when radon levels are found to be above the EPA action level. But, you might want to have some input on how the system is installed. On many systems, the pipe exits through the siding of the house just above the top of the foundation wall. It then runs up the side of the house and terminates below the roofline. If you don’t want an unsightly 4” PVC pipe running up the side of your house, you might consider spending a little more and running the pipe through a chase or closet in the house and have it run through the attic and exit the roof.  One downside to this configuration is that the radon fan will be in the attic. The fans run constantly and can make a low hum that may be audible in some parts of the house. Get a high quality, low decibel unit if your fan will be in the attic. For systems that expel through the side of the house, the fan is typically installed outside along the siding and is often less audible than attic installs.

Feel free to contact us at 970-672-0775 with additional questions about radon or to speak with a reputable radon mitigation specialist.

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