Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that has been linked to respiratory issues. Many homes in the U.S. have radon levels above the EPA-recommended ratio. While some areas are more at risk than others, it is important to have your home tested in order to take the necessary steps to reduce radon, especially when you plan to buy or sell a home in a high-risk area. If you're buying or selling a house, the best way to approach a radon issue is to discuss it openly. Built-in radon remediation components are a selling point for houses, since the homeowners took proactive steps to create a safer environment. If there are no radon remediation components in place, no worries as it is simple to have them installed.

A quality home inspector can test for radon and give recommendations for radon remediation. Here are some questions home buyers and sellers should keep in mind:

  1. Has the home been tested for radon?

If a radon test has already been conducted, ask to see the results. The EPA recommends keeping radon levels below 4 pCi/L.

Even if the home is not in a designated high-risk area for radon, it should still be tested. While local geology does affect radon levels, levels vary from home to home. Your neighbor's radon test results should not be used as an approximation for radon levels in your home.

  1. Are the test results still valid?

If radon test results are more than two years old, the test should be redone. Homes should also be re-tested after renovations, since a home's structure affects its radon levels.

Ask the home's current owners which floor of the home was last tested. If your family plans to use the basement as a living or recreation space, the radon test should be conducted at that level.

  1. What steps can I take to reduce radon?

There are many ways to reduce radon levels in a home. The most common approaches are foundation sealing and suction-and-ventilation systems.

A home inspector can test your home, review the results and provide a recommendation. He or she might suggest that you work with a radon remediation contractor to make easy, cost-effective changes to your home. The EPA offers an online manual with more information about radon remediation.

  1. Can my water contain radon?

While most radon is airborne, water can release radon when it is heated in the shower, dishwasher or washing machine. Experts recommend any home with a well should test for water radon.

  1. Do radon levels stay consistent year round?

Radon levels can vary with the seasons and generally are higher during the winter, so the best time to test your home is during the months when you use the heating system.

  1. Will radon make it tougher to sell my home?

It does not need to. Have a home inspector test your home for radon before you put it on the market, and make any necessary adjustments to remediate the radon. These adjustments generally cost about the same as other small home repairs and do not require extensive structural changes.

Talking openly with prospective buyers about the steps you've taken to reduce radon is more likely to help you sell than to block your sale. Buyers like knowing that sellers have looked into radon risk, covered their bases and communicated honestly.

If you need to test or re-test your current or potential home for radon, contact WIN Home Inspection. WIN Inspectors are experienced, high-quality professionals who can help you make your home safer and more marketable.