Should I Buy A House With a Radon Mitigation System?

Should i buy a house with a radon mitigation system?

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can seep into homes through cracks and gaps in the foundation. Most commonly, it’s found in older homes, although new buildings can still be at risk. 

Although radon is not visible, it can be dangerous. Prolonged exposure increases the risk of lung cancer, making it a significant health concern. In fact, it’s the second leading cause of lung cancer in smokers and the leading cause in non-smokers. 

So, if you’re looking to purchase a house, you’ll want to have it tested for high levels of radon. Better yet, you should also consider buying a home equipped with a radon mitigation system designed to help keep levels as low as possible. 

About Radon Mitigation Systems 

According to the EPA, nearly one in every 15 homes in the U.S. has a concern about radon levels that should be reduced. The EPA recommends maintaining a radon level below 4 picocuries per liter. However, an estimated 6 million homes have higher levels than that.

Active soil depressurization radon mitigation

Radon mitigation systems employ various techniques to reduce indoor radon levels, but there are two primary methods:

1. Active Soil Depressurization (ASD)

ASD is the most common and effective radon mitigation technique. It involves installing a pipe or series of pipes connected to a radon vent fan in the soil or beneath the concrete slab of a home’s foundation. The fan creates a negative pressure zone beneath the home, drawing radon gas from the soil and directing it outside before it can enter living spaces. 

This method is highly efficient in reducing radon levels and is suitable for most types of homes.

2. Passive Ventilation Systems

These systems rely on natural airflow to reduce radon levels. They typically consist of vents or pipes installed in the foundation or beneath the home, allowing radon gas to vent to the exterior. 

While passive systems are less effective than ASD in lowering radon concentrations, they can still be beneficial in homes with lower radon levels or as a supplementary measure alongside other mitigation techniques.

Do Radon Mitigation Systems Really Work?

Regardless of the method used, radon mitigation systems generally work by creating a pressure difference between indoor and outdoor environments. By depressurizing the soil or creating pathways for radon to escape, they prevent radon gas from entering living spaces and channel it safely away from the home. 

To learn more about the ins and outs of radon mitigation, check out our blog on the subject.

Benefits of Buying a House With a Radon Mitigation System 

Buying house with radon mitigation system benefits

Buying a house with a radon mitigation system already in place offers several significant advantages for homeowners. Let’s take a look at three of the most prominent benefits.

1. Reduced Health Risks

Radon mitigation systems are highly effective in reducing indoor radon levels, thereby lowering the associated health risks for occupants. By buying a house with a previously installed system, homeowners can significantly decrease their exposure to radon gas. 

Lung cancer isn’t the only health risk associated with high indoor levels of radon. Mitigation systems can also decrease the risk of other respiratory issues exacerbated by radon exposure, such as chronic lung diseases like emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Moreover, mitigation systems contribute to an overall healthier indoor environment. By effectively venting radon gas away from living spaces, these systems help to improve indoor air quality and reduce the likelihood of other associated health problems, such as allergies and respiratory irritation.

2. Peace of Mind

An already-installed mitigation system offers immediate reassurance regarding the indoor air quality of the home. As a potential buyer, you can feel confident that the home’s radon levels have been effectively reduced. You won’t have to wait for radon test results or other information before you can feel safe. 

This peace of mind is particularly valuable for families with children or individuals with respiratory conditions, who may be more vulnerable to the effects of radon exposure.

3. Potential Cost Savings

Generally, installing a radon mitigation system costs upwards of $700, depending on where you live, the size of the home, and the specific system. It’s not uncommon for owners of large houses to spend thousands of dollars on installing a single system. 

Keep that in mind as you shop for houses. If some already come equipped with a comprehensive radon mitigation system, that’s one less cost to worry about after you move in. 

A Few Things to Consider 

Radon mitigation system near hvac compressor

Although any radon mitigation system is better than none, not all are created or cared for equally. It’s important to pay attention to the details, including the following: 

Quality of the System

An effective radon mitigation system should reduce the radon level in a home by up to 99%

However, different systems vary in effectiveness, efficiency, and suitability for specific homes or situations. While all radon mitigation systems aim to reduce indoor radon levels, some may be better suited to certain properties or more effective in achieving desired results.

Almost across the board, active soil depressurization (ASD) systems are considered the most effective and versatile option for reducing radon levels in homes. These are highly efficient and can effectively mitigate high radon levels in various types of homes, making them a preferred choice in many cases.

So, if you’re shopping for homes and encounter one with a passive ventilation system, you may want to dig deeper. Why did the previous homeowner select this type of system, and is it the best fit for the structure? 

Additionally, the quality of the radon mitigation system and its components plays a role in its effectiveness. High-quality systems are designed and installed to meet industry standards and specifications, ensuring optimal performance and durability over time. 

Conversely, lower-quality systems (or improperly installed) systems may not effectively reduce radon levels or may be prone to malfunctions and failures.

Maintenance History

As you assess the home’s radon mitigation system, ask about its care and maintenance since its installation. 

Over time, some system components may wear out or become damaged, potentially compromising its ability to reduce radon levels effectively. By staying up-to-date with maintenance tasks, such as checking fan performance and sealing potential entry points, homeowners can ensure that the system remains in good working condition.

Additionally, many radon mitigation systems come with warranties that require regular maintenance to remain valid. Neglecting maintenance tasks may void the warranty, leaving future homeowners responsible for any repairs or replacements needed due to system failures. 

If you’re buying a home with an in-place radon mitigation system, you want to know that it’s been cared for and will continue to protect residents’ health. Ask for documentation of maintenance tasks and any repairs that have been completed. 

What Should the Maintenance History Include?

If the previous homeowner can provide maintenance records, you still need to know what to look for in the history. 

Firstly, the homeowner should have scheduled annual inspections for their system to assess everything from the fans and pipes to the sealing. This ensures no wear, damage, or malfunctions go on without notice.

Furthermore, the homeowner should have regularly cleaned and replaced the fan in the mitigation system, which is responsible for drawing radon gas from beneath the building and safely venting it outside. The fan’s air filter should have been cleaned and replaced regularly over the years.

Although the previous or current homeowner could have done these maintenance tasks themselves, it’s even better if they have official records from a trained technician. 

Radon Testing

Exterior view of radon mitigation system

When was the last time the house was actually tested for radon? Do you have evidence that the radon mitigation system is working? 

Think about it this way: even if your home has an alarm system, you still lock the doors at night. Similarly, you should still test for radon, even if the home is equipped with a system you think you can trust. 

Radon levels can fluctuate over time due to various factors, such as changes in soil conditions, weather patterns, or alterations to the home’s foundation. Periodic radon testing ensures that the mitigation system is still effective in reducing radon levels to within safe limits. 

Furthermore, radon testing can identify any issues or malfunctions with the mitigation system that may arise over time. For example, if the fan or vent becomes blocked or damaged, or if there are leaks in the system, radon levels may increase inside the home. 

Don’t Get a False Sense of Security 

Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that a radon mitigation system completely eliminates all radon-related risks. 

While these systems are highly effective in reducing indoor radon levels, they do not entirely eradicate the presence of radon gas. Believing otherwise can lead to a false sense of security and cause you to neglect essential precautions.

Regular radon testing is essential – even with a mitigation system in place – to ensure that indoor radon levels remain within safe limits. Without periodic testing, homeowners may not be aware of potential increases in radon levels, putting themselves and their families at risk of prolonged exposure to elevated radon concentrations.

Furthermore, like all technology, radon mitigation systems can malfunction. Before you purchase any home, make sure you’ve fully assessed the system, scheduled the appropriate testing, and taken any necessary steps to lower dangerous radon levels.  

When to Schedule Radon Testing

Radon testing is relatively quick and affordable, and we highly recommend scheduling testing prior to finalizing the purchase of any home – even one with a mitigation system. 

We also strongly recommend that all homeowners, business owners, and commercial property managers schedule radon testing regularly. If you can’t remember if you’ve ever had your building tested or if it’s been years, now’s the time to schedule an appointment.

Furthermore, you should certainly schedule radon testing if you notice any of the following warning signs of high radon levels: 

Frequent Illness

High radon levels may contribute to increased respiratory illnesses among occupants, such as frequent colds, respiratory infections, or worsening asthma symptoms.

Unexplained Health Issues

If multiple occupants in a home experience unexplained health issues related to respiratory or lung problems, it could be a sign of elevated radon levels.

Visible Signs of Decay

In some cases, high radon levels can be associated with decay or deterioration of materials in the home, such as crumbling concrete, rusting metal, or discolored walls or ceilings. While not directly caused by radon, these signs may indicate moisture or other conditions that could contribute to radon ingress.

Given the stealthy nature of radon, regular testing is hands-down the best way to accurately assess indoor radon levels and ensure your home (new or old) is actually safe.

In Summary 

Buying a house with a radon mitigation system can offer numerous benefits, including reduced health risks and peace of mind. However, it’s essential to consider factors such as the quality of the system, maintenance history, and the need for periodic radon testing. 

Regardless of whether a mitigation system is present, regular radon testing is crucial to ensure the safety of your home environment

Schedule Radon Testing in New Jersey Today 

Thinking about buying a new home? Worried about your current space? Either way, Certified Environmental is here to help. 

As a licensed and certified radon testing company, we’re happy to provide a free estimate for testing your property. Even better, we’ll beat any competitor’s written estimate for the same service. 

Using an EPA open-faced charcoal canister, we’ll carefully assess any residential or commercial space to determine if its air is safe to breathe. 

Get your free radon testing quote today. Our services will help you feel confident about your next real estate purchase, radon mitigation system or not. 

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Peter Lordy

Peter Lordy is a seasoned environmental expert with over 30 years of experience in Superfund, industrial/commercial, residential site evaluations, and regulatory compliance including RCRA and CERCLA. He is a trained asbestos removal supervisor, holding various licenses from NJDEP for closure, subsurface, and tank testing. As a Rutgers-trained hazmat trainer, he possesses the required 40 hours of training for annual certification, alongside being Roth Certified. Peter is also a voting member of ASTM International and a Radon Measurement Specialist, demonstrating his broad expertise and commitment to environmental safety and standards.