Radon and Your Home

Posted by Van Purser on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 at 10:45am.

What You Should Know About Radon

Radon is a noble and inert gas which has been identified in indoor air for half a century. You can’t see radon. You can’t smell it or taste it. But it may be a problem in your home it the levels are too high. Radon is estimated to be the underlying cause of thousands of deaths each year. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths.

What is Radon and Where Does it Come From

Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and it gets into the air that we breathe. It typically moves up through the ground and enters your home through cracks and other holes or voids in the foundation. Your home traps radon inside, where it can build up to dangerous levels. Any home can have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels. While radon problems may be more common in some areas, any home may have a problem. The only way to know about your home is to test for it. Knowing the basics of radon will help you determine if you should have you home tested.

How Radon Enters a Home

  • Cracks in solid floors; such as concert slabs.
  • Construction joints such as expansion joints in concrete.
  • Cracks in the walls such as poured wall foundations or block wall foundations.
  • Gaps in suspended floors such as those above crawl spaces.
  • Gaps around service pipes such as gas line and water line entries and sewer pipe exit lines.
  • Cavities inside walls such as those in a concrete block foundation.

How Do I Test For Radon

  • There are many kinds of low cost “do it yourself “radon kits you can get through the mail and in hardware stores and other retail outlets. Make sure you buy a test kit that says “meets EPA requirements”.
  • If you are buying or selling a home, you can hire a trained contractor to do the testing for you. Many home inspectors offer this service and there is an EPA Check List available for your convenience.

More and more, home buyers are asking about radon levels before they purchase a home. Because real estate sales happen quickly, there is often little time to deal with radon and other issues. The best thing to do is to test for radon now and save the results in case the buyer is interested or concerned about radon. Fix a problem if it exist so it won’t complicate your home sale.

For more information or radon, contact the EPA and ask for the pamphlet “Home Buyers and Sellers Guide to Radon”.

Steve Sheffield is a full time home inspector with certifications through ASHI, American Society of Home Inspectors, and the IRC, International Residential Building Code. He has completed over 1500 inspections since starting Hometown Inspection Services, LLC eight years ago. Prior to starting Hometown Inspection he was in the lumber / construction supply business for over 30 years. He can be reached at: steve@hometowninspection.com or 770-789-1463.


Van Purser and his wife Jeanne are a licensed Real Estate Brokers in Georgia.  Since1984 they successfully purchased and renovated over 400 homes.  Their expertise is in representing Buyers or Sellers as an advocate; which means always ensuring their best interest.  Additionally, they represented hundreds of clients over the years as an Associate Broker with Metro Brokers, RE/Max and now with his own firm.  He and his wife, Jeanne, have been married since 1977.   Van or Jeanne can be reached at 770-623-3313, or by email at vanpurser@vanpurser.com or jeanne@vanpurser.com

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