Testing & Mitigating Radon To Keep Your House Safe

You guys know we’ve been on a recent kick to make our home greener, including getting rid of harmful chemicals around the house and starting a compost bin.  But somehow we failed to mention one of the biggest things we did in the name of good indoor air quality:  test our house for radon.

The deal with radon is that it’s an odorless, colorless gas that comes from the ground and can leak into your home if it’s built on a spot with high concentrations of this radioactive killer.  I say “killer” because radon, according to the EPA, is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers (even more dangerous than second-hand smoke). Click the link at the end of this sentence to learn if your county lies in the red danger zones.

After reading about radon in a magazine, Sherry suggested we do the test almost immediately after moving in over two years ago.  I resisted at first – seeing it as a waste of time and money –  but eventually couldn’t argue with buying this $15 test that actually took little effort on our part.  So we set out the little test kit somewhere inconspicuous and 3 days later sent it in for results (using the pre-paid packaging provided in the test- easy as pie).  Then we waited a few weeks for the good news that our house was under the 4 pCi/L level that’s considered okay.

That news didn’t come.  Instead, our house was found to have 10 pCi/L of radon present in the air.  Baaad news.  More than twice the acceptable level of radon was silently seeping into our home.  So we contacted a certified radon mitigation professional recommended by our local radon office.  After he confirmed our results, we began the process of getting a radon reduction system installed in our house.

I’ll spare you the details of this, but basically it means that all the exposed earth in our crawl space was covered in an airtight plastic sheet to trap all the radon emissions before they can leak up into our home.

Then a newly installed piping system blows this toxic air up through our house (by way of the guest bedroom closet and the attic) and out of a new vent in our roof. Peace out, radon.

The system set us back about $2,100 (which wasn’t small beans, especially right after closing) but it works like a charm. When we retested our home after the system ran for a few months we got back a reading of 1.0 pCi/L- over 10 times less radon! It was even far less than normal outdoor air (which typically registers 1.2 pCi/L). We still test our house once a year to be certain that our radon mitigation system is properly functioning, and we strongly encourage all of you to do the same.  It’s only $15 and it could save your life- and anyone with pups or little people should be especially diligent in the fight against noxious (and obnoxious) radon.

Comments

  1. says

    Our new house came back with 9 pCi/L of radon. We just met with a radon mitigation professional and are going to have to install a radon reduction system, too.

  2. says

    Eek! Thanks for this reminder. This is something G and I talked about doing 2 years ago when we bought our current house and we STILL haven’t gotten around to it. There’s no time like the present; we will get right on it. I’m happy to hear you guys dodged a bullet and have clean, healthy, air now!

  3. says

    We were just talking about this with our neighbors this weekend since we have a crawlspace attached to our basement. Looks like a good kit, we’ll have to check it out! Thanks for the reminder.

  4. says

    We are getting a mitigation system. We home tested four years ago and the results were normal. Two homes that just sold around us had fans installed as part of the contract which spurred us to test again. Two tests later, the house tested over the normal levels. I highly recommend testing your home too.

  5. says

    We have a mitigation system in our home, too. When we moved in, our house had 8 pCi/L. After the system was installed, incorrectly, we retested, and the level was reduced to 6. After calling a different mitigation expert, he drilled through the basement floor, moved the mitigation system, slightly by redirecting some PVC, and we retested and our now well below 1 pCi/L. The systems work great!

  6. YoungHouseLove says

    Sounds weird to say this, but I’m glad we’re not the only ones who have had to install a mitigation system. When we first learned about it I couldn’t believe no one had ever mentioned it to me before. I was beginning to wonder if we had been taken for a ride. So while I don’t wish radon issues on anyone, it’s a little bit comforting to know we’re not alone in this boat.

    Jason, sorry yours didn’t take on the first try but glad to know it’s working so well now.

    We’d love to hear more stories if you guy have got ‘em. Here’s to healthy indoor air!

    -John

  7. says

    It’s great to see radon awareness growing from the grass roots. I am a radon mitigation professional and constantly meet customers who hadn’t heard of radon until it came up during their real-estate transaction. Radon is real and it’s dangers are serious over long term exposure. The nice thing is that radon mitigation is a simple upgrade to your home and can give you the peace of mind that radon and other gasses are blocked and vented before they enter the house from the soil below. We would be glad to answer any of your radon questions. See us at http://www.RadoVent.com . Thank you for spreading awareness.

  8. Meredith says

    I don’t know what area of the country you’re in, but I’m in Central PA (a hot zone for radon), and we just had our home inspection and came back over 10 pCi/L, and the guy who inspected our home works for himself and also does mitigation. He said it would cost us about $785 if we had stone under the foundation and only needed one evacuation point, and if he drills the first point and it’s more sandy then he’ll add a second evacuation point (but run it to the same pump) and then the total cost to us will still only be $825, including the post-mitigation test he’ll run to make sure the system is working. So woah, I hope you didn’t get ripped off with that $2k price tag! But either way, it’s so worth it to have safe air in your home.

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Meredith,

      We got a few estimates and for our complicated part-crawl-space-part-basement-and-part-slab-house that seemed to be the going rate. It took them quite a while to install it so I think it was a pretty fair price. And we’ve been radon free ever since (we check every winter just in case). Priceless!

      xoxo,
      Sherry

  9. Kristin says

    The house we are currently purchasing already has a radon system in it, which is great. We live in Iowa and our realtor said it does cost anywhere from 2-3,000 to have them put in, so we were thankful to have it already done for us – but sounds like your price was right on! Yehaw clean air!

  10. Connie says

    We discovered radon in our home during our home inspection. The level was 8.1 (anything over 4 is not good!) We had a great radon mitigation team — two super professional guys! http://www.allohioradon.com/ (if you are in the Northeast Ohio area, I highly recommend them).

    Ours ran about $1100 which for our house size and construction (ranch with no basement) seemed to be about the going rate.

    We’ve since had two friends buy homes and recommended the radon test. One thanked us because they did find radon in their new home!

    I feel so much better knowing that this was taken care of properly and I sleep better at night because of it.

  11. Lauren says

    So it seems like you posted this quite a while ago, but I had to comment once I read it.

    When we got our house inspected 1 1/2 years ago we discovered our radon level was…get ready for it…36 pCi/L!! We couldn’t believe it! Thankfully, we were able to get a radon mitigation system installed for about $1,000 here in central Ohio. It seems like a lot of money up front, but it’s definitely worth the peace of mind when, a year later, we decided to set up an office and family room/den space down there. Now we can breathe easy. :)

  12. Kristina says

    I’m so glad you posted about this! We just bought our first home and had it tested during the routine inspections. Came up with 14 for the radon! The seller had the system installed and it seems to be working fine. Also have an alarm system (similar to those that detect carbon monoxide) to keep it in check. To re-state what you said, so glad to know we were not the only ones dealing with this! With little ones around, you can’t take chances!

  13. says

    One of the houses we were seriously considering purchasing had a radon mitigation system already installed. It freaked us out because we didn’t know anything about it at all. The contract on the house we really wanted ended up falling through and we got our offer accepted by the seller. We added the radon test to the home inspection and it had an acceptable level. I think it’s weird that a radon test isn’t required in the home inspection before purchase! Still haven’t heard an answer from the bank with our short sale house… although it’s radon free!!

  14. says

    I know this post was originally from forever ago but I just read it because you linked to it on your post today! Anyway, my radon story is that my husband and I moved to Omaha, Nebraska from Dallas, Texas and had never even heard of radon before. Apparently its not a problem in Texas and we dont have basements so there is no living below ground surface to worry about. When we bought our first house in Omaha we had the radon tested and it was a 17!!! Can you believe it?! They said that that number may be slightly inflated because the house had been closed up and on the market for six months. Even still we had the sellers pay for mitigation ($800 in our case). Thankfully we didn’t live there any never know that we were being slowly poisoned. Glad you were able to get everything mitigated before your sweet family moved in too!