Should I Get A Radon Test

by | Apr 12, 2022

When scheduling home inspections, we are often asked, “should I get a Radon test?”  It doesn’t matter if it is a Knoxville home inspection or an Oak Ridge home inspection, the short answer to that question is, yes, you should get a radon test.  In this week’s blog, I will tell you why you should get this test.

Let’s start by telling you what Radon is.

Yes, it is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas, but where does it come from?  The simplest explanation is that it comes from the rocks in the ground.  I will get all sciencey for a minute.  If you don’t like to geek out, you can skip to the next paragraph.  Radon is a byproduct of Uranium and is formed through the Uranium decay chain.   Uranium decays into Thorium which decays into Radium, which decays into Radon.  Radon continues to decay as well and eventually becomes lead.  Lead is stable.  Lead is stable until you shake it, and it falls over. Sorry, I could resist the joke.  Back to the subject at hand, it takes several million years for Uranium to decay into Radon.  Radon decays into three isotopes.  The three isotopes of Radon (222Rn, 220Rn, and 219Rn) have a half-life of 3.82 days, 55.8 seconds, and 3.98 seconds, respectively.  It is not Radon that affects the human body.  What affects the human body is the decay of Radon into Polonium and the ionizing radiation expelled during the decay process.

Why is it essential that I get a Radon test?

If you are in Knoxville, Oak Ridge, or the surrounding areas, we are all classified as Zone 1 areas by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  What does this classification mean?  A zone 1 area means there is a high probability of Radon.   We talked about how Radon comes from the rocks in the ground and, what do we have surrounding us?  We have the beautiful Smoky Mountain on one side and the Cumberland Mountains on the other side.  This is what helps make this area so great.  What happens when mountains break down over time?  They break into smaller rocks, which exposes the pre-products of Radon.

What does Radon gas do to us?

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the world.   Radon is seven times more likely to cause lung cancer than secondhand smoke.  The only thing worse than Radon is smoking itself.  The first time Radon was suspected to be a health hazard was due to a high incidence of lung cancers among miners in Schneeberg in Germany and Jachymov in Czechoslovakia.   These miners were continuously affected by respiratory disease.  There was an extensive study in the early 20th century about Radon’s effect on these miners.

How does Radon cause lung cancer?

During the Radon decay process, ionizing energy is expelled as part of that process.  That energy can destroy sensitive cells in the lung, causing a mutation that turns out to be cancerous.

How does Radon get in my house?

If you have a slab on the grad house, the concrete will crack, and there will also be small gaps between the wall and the concrete slab.  All of these provide a pathway for Radon gas to enter your home.   If you purchase a home with a crawlspace, what is that crawlspace floor?  Yes, you might have some gravel and plastic, but what is under that?  The ground, and again where does Radon come from?  The way Radon is pulled into your house is the same no matter the foundation type.  It is called the stacking effect.  When warm air is exhausted out of the upper levels and attic of a house, it creates a suction or air draw from the lower levels of the house.  That air draw includes the crawlspace or through the cracks in the slab.  This suction pulls the Radon gas into the house.

At what level is Radon dangerous?

The EPA has set the actionable level at 4.0 pCi/L.  The EPA also recommends considering Radon remediation at levels between 2.0 – 3.9 pCi/L.  It comes down to your exposure level and time.

What can I do if my house has high Radon levels?

If your house has a high level of Radon, again above 4.0 pCi/L, it can be remediated or fixed.   The high level of Radon is resolved by installing special fans and piping to direct the Radon gas outside the home.  This is called depressurizing under the slab or crawlspace.

What does it cost to fix high Radon levels (Radon Remediation)?

In 2021 the average cost for Radon Remediation for a house under 3000 sq ft was about $1600.

How often should I have my house tested for Radon?

The EPA and the State of Tennessee recommend that Radon testing be included as part of a land transaction.  It is also recommended that houses be tested every two years, whether a Radon remediation system is installed or not.

Can I have my home tested without a home inspection?

Absolutely!  We are happy to test your home whether you have a home inspection or not.

How much does Radon testing cost?

Right now, we are charging $185 for radon testing with a home inspection.  If you decide to test your home outside of a home inspection, there will be some extra fees for mileage.

What are the important things to remember?

If you are buying a home, make sure your home inspector does a Radon test for you.  Radon is seven times worse than secondhand smoke and the second leading cause of lung cancer worldwide.  If the house does have high Radon levels, it is relatively easy and low cost to correct the issue.

As always if you have a question, whether you use Bent Nail Home Inspection Services or someone else, you are always welcome to call us.  We will be happy to help you in any way we can.  One of our goals is to be a resource to customers and realtors throughout Knoxville, Oak Ridge, and East Tennessee.

Have a great day,
Lee and Kadee

PS Click Here if you would like to schedule a Radon test for your house. Then select Testing Services.