Selling a home is a tricky business only if you’re negligent toward the state laws.
Not only does it have to be livable in terms of its structure, but it also needs to be free from high levels of chemicals that can cause health issues.
Among many other things to consider is radon, so many home sellers wonder and ask, “Is Radon testing required to sell a home?“
Let’s talk about radon, how to test for it, what to do when the levels are high, and more.
Why Is Radon So Dangerous?
Radon is a harmful radioactive gas that emits from decaying uranium.
It’s one contributor to breathing problems and may often lead to fatalities since it can cause lung cancer.
Lung cancer caused by radon exposure kills nearly 21,000 Americans every year.
Also, some experts suggest that radon is present in most soils and the usual air also comprises low levels of radon.
Since this gas’ occurrence is purely a natural phenomenon, it’s good to use radon detectors.
A radon detector ensures that you don’t unintentionally cause harm to your prospective buyer.
To make your job easier, you can ask for your local building authorities’ opinion, especially if you happen to live in a radon concentrated area.
Is Radon Testing Required to Sell a Home?
Neither the federal nor the state laws demand you to test for radon before selling your house.
Regardless of the state laws, local governing bodies often require you to share previous radon testing results, if any, to the buyer.
It’s only sensible to disclose such critical information to avoid any problems in the future.
In a nutshell, you will need to disclose your radon test results to your buyer even though it isn’t compulsory.
Testing Radon Inside Your Home
Usually, there are apparent signs of radon, especially if it is present in high quantity.
The good thing is that there are effective methods to identify its presence.
What’s the Right Approach for Radon Testing
Often, people use DIY kits to determine radon’s presence and its concentration in the house.
However, that may not be enough to satisfy your buyer. They might want professional services from a home inspector for more reliable results.
Also, several testing companies provide radon detection and concentration tests with standardized equipment.
As such, buyers are inclined to appoint such companies because it gives them a bit of an advantage.
For instance, if the results show higher radon levels, you have to compromise on the price. That may cause a significant dip in the price.
Thus, it’s more sensible to hire a professional testing company. They use the latest gadgets, such as Smart Radon detectors and air quality monitors.
The results have more credibility, and it will save you a lot of bargaining time while negotiating with the buyer.
Cost of Professional Radon Testing
Professional testing service cost depends on various factors. Some of the critical elements of professional testing are:
- Inspectors investigate radon entry points and seal them before testing.
- Filling the gas entry points may add to the cost but may improve your test results.
- The number of testing units depends upon your house size.
- The inspector may suggest installing a mitigation system in case your radon levels rise.
- Installing a mitigation system is quite helpful. You can then put your house up for listing.
- The average cost of a radon mitigation system is approximately $950.
If you are lucky enough, you won’t have to spend on repairs. In such a case, professional testing can cost you anywhere between $150 and $250.
Radon Testing Methods
Firstly, you need to identify a place that most likely has high radon levels.
It’s mostly the least livable place of your house, having an average weekly use of approximately ten hours.
Types of Test
There are two types of tests, depending on the length of testing. Here are the details:
- Short Term Testing
Short term tests help identify whether you will need further tests, and there are two basic methods to conduct them.
It will require you to send the tests to a lab and wait for the results.
Both tests can last from two to seven days. These tests are readily available at hardware stores, home centers, and online retailers.
Still, these tests are useful only for identifying any possibility of high radon levels.
You are partially acquiring professional services as the lab declares the tests’ results.
Short term test results may not satisfy buyers. Yet, it will give you an idea of radon presence, which is the primary objective of such tests.
Usually, these tests are charcoal-based, while the other method uses electret ion technique.
- Long-Term Testing
Long-term tests are more reliable because of the period. During such trials, the test may measure radon levels for up to a year.
Long-term testing results are usually affected by air pressure drop, variation in soil moisture, gusts of wind, snow covers, and more because they tend to trap radon particles.
Usually, long-term testing tracks alpha particles in the atmosphere, which continuously emit from any radioactive substance.
Long-term testing services are more professional. Usually, there are online retailers and state radon agencies that carry out such testing.
- Continuous Testing
It’s a good idea for continuous testing to use a high-quality radon detector such as the Airthings Corentium Home 223.
It is a smart, portable detector and takes about a minute to calibrate.
Place it anywhere in your house, and you will have your first reading within six to twelve hours.
With continuous testing, it helps you keep a record of radon levels in the longer run, helping sell the house at a better cost.
What Should I Do If Radon Levels Are High?
Before worrying about high radon levels, you should know the acceptable limits.
Although there are optimal limits, none of these are safe because radon is a radioactive gas.
Since radon levels can affect your house’s price, it’s normal to worry if the results are not in your favor.
The effects of radon are cumulative and may be dangerous in the longer run.
Continuous exposure to high radon levels can be fatal, so you must take appropriate action according to the test results.
Until this point, we questioned: “Is radon testing required to sell a home, but what to do if the radon levels are high?“
According to the EPA, if the first short term test measures at least 4picoCuries per liter, you need to conduct another short term test.
If the second test results are similar or more than 4pCi/L, it’s an alarming situation.
As such, you will need to take steps to reduce radon levels in your house.
Reducing Radon Levels
Maintaining or reducing radon concentration can be laborious, but the involved processes are easy to conduct. It can also help raise the price of your house.
These measures are more effective if the radon levels aren’t significantly high.
Otherwise, you may have to compromise because it’s difficult to control more radon.
Here is a look at some useful tricks and methods to maintain or reduce your house’s radon presence:
- Remember that cheap repairs can be helpful, so look for gas leaks in the tiniest of places. Look for cracks in the foundation, joints, and any other openings and use polyurethane caulk to fill up the spaces.
- Identify the crawl space in your house and cover them with polyurethane plastic sheets. Use at least six mil thick sheets.
- Use sealing concrete to cover any open cracks. It may be a temporary solution, but it was found somewhat useful.
- Mount an air-tight cover on your sump pump. Make sure that you have easy access to the sump.
Test your radon levels after the repairs to check for any possible improvement.
If the results aren’t right, you may need a mitigation system for your house.
What Is a Radon Mitigation System?
Radon mitigation systems can relieve your house from harmful radioactive gas.
With such a system installed, you can get rid of radon in the most efficient manner.
How It Works
A radon mitigation system has quite a simple working mechanism, but it’s handy. Here is how it works:
- It draws up the radon gas from the soil through PVC piping.
- Vent pipes are also helpful, especially for sump pumps.
- It requires a vent fan placed under the basement floor that vents out the soil’s gas through the lines.
You can install a mitigation system on your own, but it’s better to seek professional help.
Professionals can charge a few hundred dollars depending upon the material and labor involved.
Also, there is a list of professional state companies that provide mitigation system installation services.
What Is the Possible Buyer Behavior in Case of High Radon Levels?
It is important to know how the buyer may respond to high levels of radon.
This way, it will be easier to draw a strategy that yields a win-win situation for both parties.
The buyer may request you to install a mitigation system before locking the deal.
In such a case, it’s better to spend a few bucks and save yourself from a larger dip in price.
If you’re negotiating through a bank, it’s better to leave the buyer’s mitigation system because it may not affect the price too much.
At times, the deal is too attractive to ignore. Hence, buyers tend to agree on the demanded price and install the mitigation system on their own.
Therefore, if you’re offering an attractive deal, be firm while negotiating.
The buyer won’t risk such a contract for a few hundred dollars.
In a case when nothing seems to be working between you and the buyer, it’s better to compromise.
You may look for cheaper solutions such as instant repairs that can last for a couple of years.
Testing for the Presence of Radon Before Selling Your Home
Technically, you’re not required to test for radon before selling your home.
That said, because radon exposure has several adverse effects, it is better that you conduct testing regularly.
Regardless if you want to sell your house or not, radon testing will benefit you, your family, and your neighborhood.
Getting your house tested for radon is the only right thing to do as a responsible citizen.
You can opt for smart air monitoring systems and radon detectors. They present comprehensive analysis on your smartphone.
These measures may cost you a few bucks but they can help save precious lives.
In case you want to test before listing your house, it’s a better idea to go for professional services.
Acquire certified results to avoid any confusion or disputes while dealing with buyers.