Radon is a carcinogen. The U.S. Surgeon General and the EPA recommend that all houses be tested for radon. Houses with high radon levels can be fixed. I offer two types of radon testing; air and water. Results are mailed directly to you from the accredited lab. Prices are for services provided at the same time as the home inspection.
Radon in Air Testing
Radon is a radioactive gas - colorless and odorless - produced by the disintegration of radioactive elements. The gas enters a home through the foundation and basement or crawl space floor. The highest concentration of radon in air will be found in the basement. The radon concentration decreases at each successive level above the basement. Radon in air testing can be done in two ways, a canister test or a monitor test.
Canister Test: $75-$150
Test canisters are passive - set in an appropriate location in the home, opened to the surrounding air, and collected 48 to 96 hours later. At the end of the test, the canisters are mailed or delivered to the lab where it usually takes a couple days to get the results. If the canisters are mailed, there can be an additional day or two delay.
A drawback to canisters is that there is no way to know what might have happened in the environment around them during the test. Were they moved? Were windows or doors left open in the area around them? These are recommended when a home is vacant and traffic through the home is minimal during the test.
Monitor Test: $175
A (continuous) radon monitor takes readings hourly for radon, air temperature, relative humidity and barometric pressure. In addition, there are sensors to indicate and record if the machine is moved, or the power interrupted. Typically, these machines have a battery backup and continue to perform when the power is interrupted.
At the end of the test, the data can be interpreted to give more information about the test environment, as well as the radon levels. Another benefit: results can be received almost immediately with the machine.
Radon Mitigation Systems
If the radon level is high in the home, a mitigation system can be installed for about $1500. These work well, and can have an added benefit - the system may help to reduce humidity in the basement, at a relatively low operating cost. Systems typically cost about $40 per year to operate.
Radon in Water Testing: $55
Just as oxygen gas dissolves into surface water (lakes, streams, etc.), radon gas dissolves into your well water underground and enters the home through the plumbing system. The water from your (drilled) well can be tested for radon, and if the radon level is high, it can be mitigated with a radon-in-water system. The cost for these systems are typically around $5000. Note: water from a shallow well should have little or no radon.
A general rule of thumb is that a 10,000 level of radon-in-water contributes about 1 pCi per liter to the air - typically not a problem in a home where the radon in air level is reasonable. However, keep in mind that at a location like a shower where warm water is depressurized at the shower head, the radon in air level will be higher. If the radon level in your water is questionable, be sure and install a radon-in-water mitigation system (a bathroom exhaust fan that is functioning properly will also help).
Additional Radon Information
For additional perspective on radon, be sure to look at the following website also. Tom Martin goes into great depth and explains it very well. Click on “Understanding Radon” at http://www.professional-home-inspections.com/.
This open pipe was installed when the home was built, to be connected to a radon system later, if needed. However it was not capped - a significant issue - allowing an increased flow of radon from under the basement slab into the home.
This manometer in a radon mitigation system is indicating that the system is functioning properly.