Colorado – What you need to know about Radon Gas

Colorado Real Estate and Radon Gas

During the Colorado home buying process you will be given an opportunity to have home inspections prior to the final acceptance of the property. Most buyers will have a general home inspection to investigate the condition of the home, roof and systems. In addition to these typical inspections, we recommend you also include an inexpensive radon gas test.

The Dangers of Radon Gas in your Colorado Home
The danger of radon gas in our homes – be informed and be safe.

What is Radon Gas?

Radon is a colorless, odorless gas produced by the breakdown of naturally occurring radioactive elements in the earth.  When radon gas is outdoors, it doesn’t pose a threat to human health because it disperses quickly. If radon gas enters a building, however, it can get trapped inside, increasing the risk for lung problems including lung cancer. Radon typically enters a home via cracks or holes in the foundation. Radon gas can also enter a home via loose-fitting pipes, dirt floors, block walls and other surfaces.

Where is Radon Gas?

Radon Map of the US
Radon Map of the US

 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, high radon levels have been found in all 50 states of the United States. Every county in Colorado has had high levels of radon gas recorded. Colorado Springs is in El Paso County, which is part of EPA Zone 1, indicating that many homes in the area are likely to have high radon levels. Because high levels of radon have been recorded in every state, testing for radon and installing radon gas mitigation systems has become a readily available professional service. Regardless of where you live, the EPA recommends you have your home tested for radon.

Protecting your family from Radon in Colorado

Protecting your family from radon exposure
Radon can be dangerous – find out how to protect your family.

Testing for Radon is Always the Recommended First Step

New homes may have just as much radon or more as homes that have been around for 30 or 40 years. Three neighboring homes can have drastically different radon level readings. That is why, regardless of the homes age, condition, or location, it is always good idea to preform a radon gas test during the home-buying inspection period.

Fortunately, testing for radon gas is simple and affordable. Do-it-yourself home test kits take around a week to get results and range in cost between $30 -$60.  Hiring a Colorado Springs professional to preform the most advanced digital radon test is currently around $150, which is what we recommend for anyone doing the test as part of the home buyer’s inspection process. Opting for the more advanced digital testing will also speed up the process to near immediate results.

If you recently purchased a house and want the peace of mind of knowing that your new home doesn’t have a high level of radon gas, it’s well worth it to purchase a home testing kit.

Radon Testing Resources

If you’re interested in home testing, you can get a test kit from one of the following places:

  • Colorado Springs Radon Measurement Lab, located at El Paso County Public Health
  • Several organizations, including the American Lung Association and the Environmental Law Institute, have radon programs that provide free or discounted test kits to consumers. Even if they don’t provide test kits directly, they can recommend qualified radon service providers to conduct radon gas testing.
  • Order a discounted testing kit from National Radon Program Services.
  • Purchase a radon test kit from a big-box retailer or local home-improvement store.

Whether you hire a professional or use a home testing kit, it’s important to conduct the test in the right part of the home. If you’re buying a home and want testing as part of the home inspection, the EPA recommends having a service professional test the lowest area of the home that could be converted into a living area. For example, if the home has an unfinished basement that could be turned into a rec room or suite for a member of your extended family, the test should be conducted in the basement. If you already own the home, you should test in the lowest living area.

Radon Gas Test Results

Radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L), a measurement of radioactivity. In the United States, the average indoor radon level is about 1.3 pCi/L. The average outdoor level is about 0.4 pCi/L. The U.S. Surgeon General and EPA recommend mitigation for homes with radon levels at or above 4 pCi/L. EPA also recommends that people think about mitigating their homes for radon levels between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L.

Radon Mitigation Graphic
Radon Mitigation Graphic

Radon Mitigation Procedures

If radon testing shows high levels of radon in your home, don’t panic. High radon levels are not an uncommon occurrence in our area, so proven mitigation strategies are readily available. The right mitigation strategy can greatly reduce radon levels, keeping you and your family safe. A high level of radon gas is concerning, but it’s not necessarily a reason to avoid buying a home.

One of the most basic approaches to radon mitigation is to seal cracks in the foundation. This step alone can reduce the amount of radon gas that enters a home. Typically the next measure is to install a sub-slab depressurization system. With this type of system, fans and vent pipes are used to reduce radon gas levels. One of the major benefits of a sub-slab depressurization system is that installing it doesn’t require you to make any structural changes to your home.

Costs of Radon Mitigation

The good news is radon gas mitigation is surprising affordable. Cost depends on several factors, including the size of your home, the type of foundation you have, your local climate and your service provider’s approach to mitigation. In the United States, radon mitigation costs an average of $1,200, with prices ranging from $800 to $1,500 depending on market conditions. But, you may pay more for radon mitigation if you’re concerned with maintaining your home’s curb appeal. Some systems are inexpensive, but they aren’t exactly attractive. If you select a different system to preserve your home’s value, you’ll pay more for mitigation.

 

Choosing a Service Provider

Although it’s possible to seal cracks in a foundation on your own, it’s best to hire a qualified service professional to install a sub-slab depressurization system or apply other mitigation techniques. In some cases, a permit is required to make the changes necessary to reduce radon gas levels in your home. The changes you make must also conform to all applicable laws and regulations. An experienced service professional understands these laws and knows how to ensure that any mitigation work complies with the rules in your area. A service professional is qualified to do all of the following:

  • Determine if additional testing is needed before developing a mitigation plan
  • Provide a detailed mitigation plan for reducing radon levels in your home
  • Design an appropriate radon-reduction system
  • Install a radon-reduction system in a way that complies with local codes and state laws
  • Ensure the new system works as intended

 

Who Pays for the Cost of Radon Mitigation

When purchasing a home in and around Colorado Springs, Co. making radon testing a part of your home buyer’s inspections can help you uncover high radon levels before you finalize the purchase of your new home. For Instance, under certain conditions, the seller may even be willing to pay for or contribute to the cost of mitigation or reduce the sale price of the home accordingly.

We believe this simple and inexpensive test is a great first investment into your new home purchase. So, if you have questions about radon mitigation or the home buying inspection process in general, please reach out, we would be happy to answer your questions.

 

More Information About Radon Gas

Improving Home Ventilation Reduces Radon Levels

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