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Radon: What is it and Why to Test for It

By The Bassford Team on July 29, 2020

After placing an offer on a home, and after that offer is accepted, there are still numerous things that must take place before the sale is finalized. One of the most important of these is the home inspection. The inspection itself is necessary to ensure that you are not being misled as to the condition of the home or that there aren’t severely problematic issues with the house unknown even to the seller. The process as a whole is something we’ve written on in the past and something that we will be presenting future articles on as well, but today we want to focus on something that is often scheduled with the home inspection but is often misunderstood or not understood at all: radon testing.

What is Radon?

Radon is a gas, lighter than air, and also radioactive. It is formed from decaying uranium which exists in almost all soil, regardless of location. The uranium decays, radon gas escapes and then works its way through the soil and into the air. In most situations, it often passes safely into the atmosphere. In other circumstances, however, it enters the basements of home by pouring in through the cracks and holes commonly found in foundations.

This would be such an issue if it weren’t for the fact that a home’s basement is often not the most well-ventilated space. As the gas forms in the basement, it becomes trapped. More gas enters the basement and also becomes trapped, and soon there is a potentially dangerous buildup of radon.

Why is it Dangerous?

None of what is described above would be an issue if it weren’t for the fact that radon in high doses can be extremely carcinogenic. According to the Surgeon General, radon exposure is the second highest cause of lung cancer, after cigarettes. Add to this the fact that radon is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, and you have a gas entering into your home that is very difficult to detect but also deadly.

What Can Be Done?

Radon testing, as you might be able to guess, will tell you whether or not your home is experiencing high levels of radon. The two most common options are to either hire a professional tester (your inspector might be able to do it as well), or to purchase a DIY kit (cheaper, but slightly less reliable).

If excessive amounts of radon are discovered, professional remediation is going to be your best option. This, while hovering between $700 and $1500 to perform, is essential when it comes to keeping yourself and your family safe.

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