Test for radon when the levels will be the highest….if you’re the buyer

I woke up this morning thinking about radon.  Now, isn’t that sad?  Why not something like remembering a beach vacation, or thinking about one of my favorite cars?  Makes no sense, but that is how it went down.

Since most real estate deals only give 7-10 days for all the inspections to happen, the 48 hour radon test has become the norm.  Really, a longer term test is better since radon levels in a home can vary widely.  The way it works is there is a device that reads the radon level every hour and the numbers are averaged.  Anything at 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) or higher needs mitigation.  That’s the number most realtors are familiar with, however, the EPA says that you should consider mitigation of any level between 2 and 4 picothinggies per liter.  So, you shouldn’t feel like you have no right to ask for radon mitigation if your test averages, say, 3.9 pCi/L.

Since real estate deals necessitate a short term test that don’t really give you a year round average, wouldn’t it be nice to find a way to get the highest reading possible so you can hit the seller up for installing a mitigation system?  Since I’ve been doing this, I have noticed that the level of those hourly readings always seem to jump when there is snow on the ground, heavy rain, or the ground is frozen.  I once had a test done before and after the system was installed and the “After” test was actually higher since the ground was frozen!

So, if you are buying a house and having a radon test done, pick a day with the greatest change of rain, snow, or a frozen ground.  I am sure the radon mitigation companies know that too since I have had a few that conveniently forgot to pick up the test equipment until after it quit raining…..guess everybody but the seller wants a higher reading.

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