Radon- A Colorado Conundrum

One of the most common things that comes up on home inspections here in Boulder, Colorado is radon.
It’s a scary, serious sounding word that makes buyers and sellers alike nervous. So, what is it? Why is it an issue? And what can we do to fix it?

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that is found in many homes in Colorado. It is naturally occurring in rock and soil and varies from home to home. Radon is bad for the lungs and is actually the second highest cause of lung cancer behind smoking.

What happens is that air pressure in a home is lower than the pressure in the soil outside of the home. The house essentially acts like a vacuum, pulling air and gases up from the soil. Radon usually dissipates in outside air but inside a home, it can become concentrated to a point that is dangerous. How much radon is present in a home has to do with the soil and how well a home’s foundation and basement are sealed.

So, what does that mean for home buyers and sellers?

Every home in Colorado should be tested for radon. During the home buying process, radon testing is optional and recommended. In the home buying process, most buyers hire a home inspector to check out the house and the inspector can also do radon tests. Even if you aren’t buying or selling your home, you can buy a home radon test at your local hardware store.  If a home tests too high for radon, there are several options.

Many homes in Colorado already have radon mitigation systems. The most common mitigation system is called a sub-slab depressurization system. This system of pipes and fans sucks air and gases from below the basement floor and disperses them outside the home. The radon never enters the home. On average, it costs between $800 and $1200 for installation. The radon mitigation systems are very effective and are permanent solutions.

For more reading on radon, check out:

http://co-radon.info/CO_general.html

To see a Colorado radon map:

http://co-radon.info/CO_radon_map.html

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