Radon Testing

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About Radon

Radon, one of nature’s 92 naturally occurring elements, is a radioactive gas. It is formed naturally by the decay of the uranium that exists in most soils. It is odorless and colorless, making it difficult to detect but no less dangerous. Federal agencies estimate that radon gas causes at least 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer related deaths annually. Radon is a leading cause of lung cancer, second only to cigarette smoking. Radon gas moves up from the ground and into buildings through cracks, holes, and gaps present in nearly every foundation and basement floor. Once inside the building, the radon collects on the lower levels where it can exist in dangerous concentrations. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and most state agencies have stated that any indoor radon concentration that exceeds 4.0 pCi/L should be reduced. 1 out of every 15 buildings in the United States has elevated levels. Old or new, well‐sealed or not, all buildings are at risk of radon build up. As dangerous as radon can be, mitigation can provide a very effective, low cost means to restore the safety of your home.

— Radon Inside Houses —

Radon is a carcinogenic gas that is hazardous to inhale. Build-up of radon in homes is a health concern and many lung cancer cases are attributed to radon exposure each year. About 12% of lung cancers and more than 20,000 Americans die of radon-related lung cancer each year. The Surgeon General of the United States has issued a Health Advisory warning Americans about the health risk from exposure to radon in indoor air. Dr. Carmona, the, Nation’s Chief Physician urged Americans to test their homes to find out how much radon they might be breathing. He also stressed the need to remedy the problem as soon as possible. You cannot see, smell, or taste radon. But it still may be a problem in your home. When you breathe air containing radon, you increase your risk of getting lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General of the United States has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.

— Testing For Radon —

Testing is the only way to find out your home’s radon levels. The EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon. If you find that you have high radon levels, there are ways to fix a radon problem. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels. Radon has been found in homes all over the United States. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Radon can also enter your home through well water. Your home can trap radon inside.Any home can have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. In fact, you and your family are most likely to get your greatest radiation exposure at home. That is where you spend most of your time. Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the United States is estimated to have an elevated radon level. Elevated levels of radon gas have been found in homes in your many states across the nation.

wllEPA’s Radon Testing Check List:

Notify the occupants of the importance of proper testing conditions. Give the occupants written instructions or a copy of this Guide and explain the directions carefully. This checklist provided by the EPA can help ensure accurate radon test results will be obtained. Radon testing is not a complicated process, but must be done properly. Otherwise, the test results may not be accurate and more testing may have to be done. Disturbing or interfering with the test device or the closed-house conditions will invalidate the test results. The seller or a certified tester should be able to confirm that all the items in this checklist have been followed. If the tester cannot confirm this, another test should be performed. 

• Conduct the radon test for a minimum of 48 hours; some test devices have a minimum exposure time greater than 48 hours.

• When doing a short-term test ranging from 2-4 days, it is important to maintain closed-house conditions for at least 12 hours before the beginning of the test and during the entire test period.

• When doing a short-term test ranging from 4-6 days, EPA recommends that closed-house conditions be maintained.

• If you hire someone to do the test, hire only a qualified individual. Some states issue photo identification (ID) cards; ask to see it. The tester’s ID number, if available, should be included or noted in the test report.

• The test should include method(s) to prevent or detect interference with testing conditions or with the testing device itself.

• If the house has an active radon-reduction system, make sure the vent fan is operating properly. If the fan is not operating properly, have it (or ask to have it) repaired and then test.

• If your home has not yet been tested for Radon have a test taken as soon as possible. If you can, test your home before putting it on the market. You should test in the lowest level of the home which is suitable for occupancy. This means testing in the lowest level that you currently live in or a lower level not currently used, but which a buyer could use for living space without renovations.

• The radon test result is important information about your home’s radon level. Some states require radon measurement testers to follow a specific testing protocol. If you do the test yourself, you should carefully follow the testing protocol for your area or EPA’s Radon Testing Checklist. If you hire a contractor to test your residence, protect yourself by hiring a qualified individual or company.

• Many states require radon professionals to be licensed, certified, or registered. Most states can provide you with a list of knowledgeable radon service providers doing business in the state. In states that don’t regulate radon services, ask the contractor if they hold a professional proficiency or certification credential. Such programs usually provide members with a photo-ID card, which indicates their qualification(s) and its expiration date. If in doubt, you should check with their credentialing organization. Alternatively, ask the contractor if they’ve successfully completed formal training appropriate for testing or mitigation, e.g., a course in radon measurement or radon mitigation.

• If you are thinking of selling your home and you have already tested your home for radon, review the Radon Testing Checklist to make sure that the test was done correctly. If so, provide your test results to the buyer.

• No matter what kind of test you took, a potential buyer may ask for a new test especially if:

— The Radon Testing Checklist items were not met.

— The last test is not recent, e.g., within two years.

— You have renovated or altered your home since you tested.

— The buyer plans to live in a lower level of the house than was tested, such as a basement suitable for occupancy but not currently lived in.

— A buyer may also ask for a new test if your state or local government requires disclosure of radon information to buyers.

Click here to schedule a radon test at your home. We look forward to helping you with ensuring your homes well-being whether you are selling, buying, or improving the all-around safety of your home.

— Mitigating Your Home —

The most common type of radon mitigation system is the sub-slab depressurization system. This system uses venting and sealing to lower radon levels in the home. A pipe is installed that runs from below the basement flooring to above the roofline, with a fan at the top that draws radon out from under the slab. Cracks and openings in the foundation are sealed. The radon is vented through the pipe to the outside, where it is quickly diluted.

The average price of such a system is around $1,200, although prices can range from $500 to $2,500, depending on characteristics of the home and the underlying soil. You can install the system yourself, if you are highly experienced in making home repairs, or you can hire a New Jersey certified radon mitigation company to do the work for you. New Jersey certified radon mitigation professionals meet specified education and experience standards and must take continuing education classes each year to maintain their certification. It is against the law for uncertified contractors to do mitigation work in New Jersey.

After your home has been mitigated, make sure the mitigator does a post-mitigation test to prove the system is working properly. In addition, you can contact the Radon Program to obtain a free post-mitigation test (you will have to provide a copy of your mitigation contract). Retesting your home every two years will tell you whether or not your system is still working effectively in reducing the radon level to below 4 pCi/L. If you believe that your system was not installed correctly, you can contact the Radon Program to arrange for a free inspection and test of the system.

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