Radon Gas. What is it, where does it come from, how to test for it, and why should you care if you’re a buyer or seller? This information applies to both buyers and sellers. It is very simple to test for radon with a radon test kit. Massachusetts home buyers want to know what it is and sellers want to know how to mitigate it prior to placing their home on the market.
You, as a human, cannot see, smell, taste, or hear radon. Radon is an odorless gas that is all around us and it naturally occurs in nature and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it. It’s the result of decaying uranium below the rock and in the earth. Radon is the second cause of lung cancer behind smoking.
We cannot predict which houses will have it or don’t have it. Some houses on the same block may have high levels while others have lower levels, so every house must be tested. The EPA estimates as many as 21,000 people die of lung cancer as a result of radon and 3000 have never smoked. You can not totally avoid it but is most dangerous in enclosed spaces like your home. So it’s important to test.
The EPA recommends to reduce the levels of radon in your home to 4.0 parts per million or below. There are two ways to test for radon in Massachusetts. The first is with a machine measuring the air and it runs continuously for 48 to 72 hours.. Typically it is placed on the first living floor. The advantage is the test can be read onsite to determine the levels in the house. More often there is a radon test kit that has two vials and typically they’re set up in the basement and the vials are also exposed for the same length of time, 48 to 72 hours and the vials are capped at the end of the test period and sent to the lab. The results are typically available within a day or two of receiving the test kit. AccuStar is a company that a lot of real estate agents use. Your home inspector can offer a test kit or you can buy one yourself.
If the levels are high, radon mitigation systems are typically installed in basements by quarrying through the foundation and there is a vacuum fan that will suck the gas up through the tube and push it outside through the tube up over the roof peak so it disperses above the roof line into the atmosphere. There is also a tube with liquid on it that’s installed on the mitigation system. That tube measures whether or not the vacuum is working. It is not measuring the radon. You do not want the levels of the liquid to be even. Rather you want it to be offset. You want to know there’s pressure in the system and it’s working properly. A lot of people only test for radon when their first move in and they forget about it, but radon levels can shift. So it’s a good idea to test every few years and radon also changes seasonally.
So as a seller, why is it a good idea to mitigate this prior to placing your home on the market? Well, it’s the simple fact that most buyers and agents will make the argument that this is a health hazard and any buyer will ask for this issue to be mitigated. Also, when you’re moving you have a lot to do, like getting rid of all the stuff that you don’t want to take with you (Here is a link to my Getting Ready To Sell Guide). So taking care of this issue ahead of time is well worth the hassle. Additionally, when buyers see that you have addressed issues like this home repair issue, it gives them a good idea and a good impression that you care about the house and that the house has been well maintained.
I hope this helped you and if you have any other questions, please reach out to me as I’m always happy to help. As always here at Hottel Real Estate, we buy and sell every home as it is our own. Make it a great day.
– Hottel Real Estate