Should I buy a home with a mitigation system? I found myself house shopping in…
Congratulations for purchasing a home! Maybe during your inspection report you saw that the home has a radon mitigation system. What does this mean? Should I be worried if a house has a radon mitigation system? Even though radon has been identified as a serious health risk since the 1980’s, many people don’t know much about what it is or what to do about it.
Radon is a naturally occurring gas that comes from uranium in the ground. It’s that simple. If a home has a little higher uranium under their home, they could easily experience a high radon problem. As uranium breaks down it turns into radon. Radon can damage lung tissues and cause lung cancer. In fact, the EPA states that radon is the number 2 cause for lung cancer after smoking and that over 21,000 Americans die each year due to radon induced lung cancer. It is good to take seriously.
Your Family is Protected with a Radon System
Now back to the new home you are buying with the radon system. Just because a home has a radon system installed doesn’t mean that it ever had high radon. Many builders automatically install radon systems into homes while they are building it. In some places around the country there are even local codes that mandate radon systems are installed during a build. In Utah, the only area that we know of that mandates a radon system during the build is a single neighborhood in Alpine. Eventually, it will become a building code and new builds in Utah will have radon systems built in automatically.
If your new home was tested to have high radon and a system was installed, what should you think? First, there is nothing wrong with this home! 1/3 of all Utah homes test high for radon. If the radon system was installed properly, then the home won’t have a radon problem anymore.
Was the System Installed Properly?
How can you tell if a radon system was properly installed? Your home inspector (at least the good ones) should be of assistance here. Here are some basics of a good radon system:
- The fan is installed either in the attic, on the roof, or on the outside of the home. The fan should never be installed in the mechanical room or in a crawlspace.
- The system should be pretty quiet and you should only hear a quiet hum of the fan and air noise through the pipes. If you hear gurgling sounds or the fan is screeching, you should have the system checked out by a reputable radon company.
- The system and piping should be as hidden as possible both on the inside and outside of the home. Hopefully the system is not located on the front of the home or right by the back patio. Here is an example of what a well-installed exterior system could look like.
- There is an airflow gauge on the pipes on the inside of the home to show that the radon system is turned on and there is airflow in the pipes. This gauge is called a manometer. Here is an example of one.
- The radon company that installed your system should have a sticker on the system with their contact information and basic system information.
Test the Home for Radon
The last but most important part of knowing if a radon system is functioning or not is to test the home! A radon test should last at least 2 days and if possible, test in colder months when radon is at its highest levels. If the radon test comes back below 3.9 pCi/L then great. If it comes back even lower, then fantastic! Once you have tested and verified that the home’s radon is not elevated, all you need to do is to periodically check the airflow gauge to make sure the fan is still running and to retest every 2 years. Following these simple steps will ensure that your new home remains safe and you won’t have to worry about radon.