Is There Radon in Charlottesville?

This is what I tell my clients – a radon mitigation system accomplishes at least three things –

1) Provides peace of mind – for homeowners and buyers

2) Can be an asset when you sell your home – it’s one less potential objection from the buyers

3) It provides for a safer environment in which to live.

Radon is a colorless and odorless gas that may cause lung cancer.

Do we have it in the Charlottesville area?

In my experience, about 50% of the houses I sell have “actionable” levels of radon – described by the EPA as being more than 4 pCi/L.

What does this mean to me as a buyer?

You may want to have the house you’re considering buying tested for radon. If the levels come back high, you may be able to negotiate with the seller to have the radon mitigated.

How much does it cost?

Painting with a broad brush – testing generally costs between $125 and $150. Mitigation generally costs between $1200 and $3000.

Everything I’ve been told is that the short-term test was designed specifically for the real estate transaction; long term tests are supposedly more accurate.

Often, at the time of sale, it is desirable to know a building’s potential for radon exposure, independent of how the building is currently used. Short-term tests are typically conducted over a two or three day period. Results of short-term tests represent the radon potential of the home, rather than the actual exposure encountered under normal living conditions, unless residents keep the home’s windows and doors closed year-round. That’s because EPA guidelines for short-term radon tests require “Closed-House Conditions,” to promote maximum radon concentration during the brief test period.

Also, if it rains while the test is in place, the results may come back high.

In most buildings 95% of the radon entering the structure comes from the rock and soil under it. The radon is pulled into the building by air pressure differentials. These differentials are created by natural and mechanical ventilation. Natural ventilation occurs because of stack effect (hot air rising in the home), wind, and temperature differences between inside and outside air. Rain and low barometric pressure can also increase radon entry. Exhaust fans in the home, as well as negative pressure relative to the outdoors caused by heating systems also increase radon entry.

Start your research at the EPA’s site.

Radon levels in Virginia, specifically Charlottesville and Albemarle
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  1. Mr Mogul February 10, 2009 at 12:22

    Radon occurs naturally in nature. It can be found in granite and other types of rocks, some of which the homeowner may not even know are present on or under the home, foundation or property. This is one instance that being safe will pay before later being sorry.

  2. Chris Johnson September 18, 2009 at 13:04

    Nice section on radon on your blog. Call me if you need any help with mitigation. See my blog for info.

  3. John Handloser December 17, 2009 at 21:25

    Excellent summary and advise on Radon Jim. You might also include that high winds and low pressure systems may spike the readings. I try to leave the radon monitor for a day or two longer if possible when we have those conditions.

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