Last week I spent time helping my daughter learn about PlateTectonics in preparation for an upcoming test. I think I was more fascinated by the concept than she was.
Sections of the earth’s upper layer move slowly over time. Not quickly, mind you, but they are in constant motion.
So what does that have to do with Real Estate? It relates to Radon. And if you think you already fixed this problem in your home, I suggest you keep reading. It may surprise you.
According to the PA Department of Environmental Protection “Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas produced bythe breakdown of uranium insoil, rock, and water. Air pressure inside your home is usually lower than pressure in the soil around your home'sfoundation. Because of this difference in pressure, your house acts like a vacuum, drawing radon in through foundation cracks and other openings.”
Studies have shown a clear link between breathing high concentrations of radon and incidence of lung cancer.
If your radon level is confirmed to be 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher, the Surgeon General, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection,(DEP) recommend that you remediate (fix) the problem.
It is standard practice to test the level of radon before you purchase a home. Remediation is generally a pretty simple thing to do. It depends upon the construction, age and layout of your home and can range from $500 to $1700. New construction often includes much of the hardware needed should remediation be required down the road.
So let’s assume your home has been tested and the levels were below 4 picoCuries per liter. Or they were higher and you put in place a remediation system. All is well in the world? Yes.
Except for plate tectonics.
Over time, the rock structure below your home may change. Remember the earthquake we had?
I have found on multiple occasions that with new home construction the radon levels were low when the home was first built, but the levels increased over time. The homeowner was shocked to learn they thought they were safe, but in fact they had been living with high radon levels.
I’m told by radon contractors that they see this all the time with new construction and also with resale homes. Systems that were in place to fix the problem are no longer effective. All because of plate tectonics.
So what should you do? Mark your calendar to test your radon every two years. Buy a test kit at a big box home improvement store. Cost (including the lab work) is about $35. And buy a Carbon Monoxide Monitor when you are there (a subject for another blog post).
Or hire a certified contractor to test for you. Testing ranges from about $115-$130.
Money well spent.
It’s critical to make sure that the radon levels in your home are safe.
Have more questions about radon? Call me if you’d like some recommendations for contractors, or if you have more questions.
For more information read this booklet, issued by the PA Department of Environmental Protection.