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  1. #1
    Russelline's Avatar
    Russelline Guest

    Unhappy Radon Test Result of 4.3 - Help!!

    Hi,

    We just had a 49 hour Radon Test performed on the home we are trying to purchase. The result was an "Average Radon Concentration of 4.3 pCi/L. The test was performed by a Licensed Radalink Radon Inspector.

    With this result in hand, we told our Realtor we would like to ask the seller to pay a licensed inspector to install a mitigation system. The Realtor suggested that I was being over zealous as such low levels basically meant that Radon is non-exhistant. I have since done my own research and am aware that no level of Radon is safe and no longer trust that this Realtor is acting in our best interest.

    This Realtor suggests that since no one has been living in the home for months, the house being closed up for so long is causing high readings that would never happen if we were living there. I do know that the a full house inspection was performed while the Radon test was taking place and there were numerous trips in and out of the house during that test.

    If we would agree to let them "air the place out" before a 2nd test, would we basically be giving them permission to tamper with the test? How do you suggest we protect ourselves?

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    St Paul, MN
    Posts
    1,628

    Default Re: Radon Test Result of 4.3 - Help!!

    The EPA advises mitigation if your average readings are 4.0 or higher when using a continuous monitor (such as the Radalink unit) in a 48 hour test.

    Proper testing protocol is to maintain a closed house condition 12 hours prior to testing and during the test. Closed house conditions would be; exterior doors and windows closed, but normal use of the exterior doors and HVAC systems. So to "air out" the home prior to the test would violate standard protocol.

    You have a few options:

    1) insist the seller install a mitigation system and potentially loose the house
    2) purchase the home as is and install the mitigation system later
    3) purchase the home and run a long term test to get more accurate results over 6 months
    4) purchase the home and do nothing
    5) find a different house

    Nobody mandates the installation of radon mitigation systems.

    A little bit of advise. Never have radon tests done by the person selling the system and always verify the information your real estate agent tells you. Good luck.

    MinnesotaHomeInspectors.com
    Minnesota Home Inspectors LLC
    ASHI #242887 mnradontesting.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
    Posts
    5,847

    Default Re: Radon Test Result of 4.3 - Help!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Russelline View Post
    Hi,

    We just had a 49 hour Radon Test performed on the home we are trying to purchase. The result was an "Average Radon Concentration of 4.3 pCi/L. The test was performed by a Licensed Radalink Radon Inspector.

    With this result in hand, we told our Realtor we would like to ask the seller to pay a licensed inspector to install a mitigation system. The Realtor suggested that I was being over zealous as such low levels basically meant that Radon is non-exhistant. I have since done my own research and am aware that no level of Radon is safe and no longer trust that this Realtor is acting in our best interest.

    This Realtor suggests that since no one has been living in the home for months, the house being closed up for so long is causing high readings that would never happen if we were living there. I do know that the a full house inspection was performed while the Radon test was taking place and there were numerous trips in and out of the house during that test.

    If we would agree to let them "air the place out" before a 2nd test, would we basically be giving them permission to tamper with the test? How do you suggest we protect ourselves?
    Welcome to our world! We face this type of BS on a large percentage of the inspections we do! The goal of any salesperson is to make the sale. Think of your agent as a used house salesperson and this might put it into prospective.

    If it was me I would want a mitigation system installed with a caveat that they must be able to lower it below 2pCi/L or you will not buy it.

    I would then report the agent for misrepresenting the radon issue.

    I would also agree to a second test, but keep in mind that all windows and doors must be closed 12 hours prior to the test and during the test.

    A vacant and closed up home will not impact the results. Radon has a very short life/half life.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Posts
    1,217

    Default Re: Radon Test Result of 4.3 - Help!!

    Russel,

    Take a deep breath (preferrably where the radon levels are low). Radon is not a black and white subject. There are several things to take into consideration before you make your decision on what to do.

    1) Your Realtor is wrong when she says "the house being closed up for so long is causing high readings . . ." As a matter of fact those would be ideal conditions for conducting a radon test.

    Radon is radioactive and has a half-life of about 3.8 days. To make the math easier in my explanation I will use a half-life of 3.5 days. If you had a certain amount of radon in the house on Day 1 then 3.5 days later 50% of that radon would remain and 50% would have decayed away. On Day 8 (7 days or two half-lives later) 25% of that original radon would remain. On Day 15 only 6.25% of the original radon would remain. After 4 weeks (on Day 29) only about 0.4% of the original radon would be left. This means the radon in the house cannot "build up" over time because the old radon decays away. After a month practically all the original radon has decayed away.

    During that time new radon would have entered the house to replace the radon that has decayed away. After only about 12 hours the house reaches equilibrium where the new radon entering the house nearly equals the radon decaying away. So it does not matter if the house has been vacant for one day, one month or one year; the radon will not "build up" to higher than normal levels.

    2) "Airing out" the house before another radon test will have little to no effect on the results. If the seller is determined to "air out" the house before conducting a second radon test you would want to make sure that closed-house conditions were maintained for at least 12-hours before the radon test was started. You also want to make sure the radon test is performed by a qualified radon measurement provider who has a certification from either NEHA or NRSB.

    3) You also should understand that a short-term radon test is only an indicator of whether the house has the potential for elevated radon levels. Your 49-hour measurement of 4.3 pCi/L tells you that the house had slightly elevated radon levels under the conditions that existed during the 49 hours during which the radon test was conducted. Is this 49-hour measurement representative of your yearly radon concentrations? Nobody knows. The radon concentration in a house is constantly fluctuating. Personally I have measured the same house at the exact same location and gotten vastly differing results (one result of about 3 pCi/L and another of over 20 pCi/L) due to seasonal fluctuations.

    Read what EPA says in their booklet 'Home Buyer's And Seller's Guide to Radon:

    Interpreting Radon Test Results

    . . .

    Sometimes short-term tests are less definitive about whether the home is at or above 4 pCi/L; particularly when the results are close to 4 pCi/L. For example, if the average of two short-term tests is 4.1 pCi/L, there is about a 50% chance that the year-round average is somewhat below 4 pCi/L.
    If I had done your radon test (49 hours with results of 4.3 pCi/L) my recommendation to you would be to consider doing a long-term test (91 days to one year) to get a better idea of your yearly average radon concentration. To make an analogy, if you fill up the gas tank of your car, drive it 100 miles, fill it up again and calculate your gas mileage you will get an idea of your car's gas mileage but it will not be very accurate (due to very little data) and may have been influenced by unusual conditions (traffic, wind, etc.) But if you calculate your gas mileage over several months you get a much more accurate and realistic number. Similarly a LT (long-term) radon test will give you more accurate and realistic results.

    A big difference between ST (short-term) and LT radon tests is a ST test is a measurement of a home's potential for radon (which is why EPA protocols require closed-house conditions) whereas a LT test is a measurement of the radon exposure of the occupants under normal, lived-in conditions. Long-term testing is normally preferred if time permits.

    Let me offer you a suggestion: Get a quote for mitigating the house and have the seller put that amount in an escrow account. After you buy the house you can have a LT radon test done. If the results are 4.0 pCi/L or higher you spend the money to mitigate the house. If the results are below 4.0 pCi/L the money if returned to the seller.

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

  5. #5
    Richard Pultar's Avatar
    Richard Pultar Guest

    Default Re: Radon Test Result of 4.3 - Help!!

    Do not buy the house if you don't see a system installed before you close.
    If there is a well you might not want to breath the radon every time you use a shower.
    If you decide that the radon hype is relevant to you then why live with it?
    Find a house without a radon issue.


  6. #6
    mathew stouffer's Avatar
    mathew stouffer Guest

    Default Re: Radon Test Result of 4.3 - Help!!

    Tell your agent their remarks can very easily cost them their license. I hate when they pull that crap. Ask them to put it in writing and the response will be different. Or tell their broker about the comments.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
    Posts
    3,473

    Default Re: Radon Test Result of 4.3 - Help!!

    Your realtor is a joke. He/she is trying to downplay the results of the test to help make the sale go through with as little negotiation as possible.

    Your realtor may not agree with the whole radon testing thing but the bottom line is that you paid for the test and the test came back with elevated levels. The situation is 100% correctable. If your realtor cannot see it is important to you, then maybe your need a different realtor who is looking out for your best interests.


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