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Michael Harper

In my zeal to provide you with useful information about your home, I often share columns containing a roadmap to help guide you to your own conclusions. This column is about the existence of radon in our area and how it may affect your real estate transaction. I’ll explain some very basic very basic information about radon and why it even comes up in your consideration of buying or selling a home.

While living in the Rocky Mountains region is a privilege, it comes with some unique challenges. The existence of a level of radon is one of those challenges. Radon is an odorless, tasteless, naturally occurring result of the decaying of decomposing granite. If you look around pretty much anywhere in Teller County you will notice we are surrounded by decomposing granite. It’s in rock formations, the soil, gravel and road base used all over the county.

When a home is built, we of course excavate the ground to install a foundation and build the home, and we generally make the home as airtight as possible for energy efficiency. That is smart building practice except for the fact that the radon gas released by decomposing granite in the soil is trapped in your energy efficient home. It can build up a level of radon on the inside living space of the home and the persons occupying the home breathe the trapped air in the home. The potential for radon poisoning is why it has become such a topic of discussion in real estate transactions.

In the everyday process of a real estate transaction the buyer hires a home inspection service to thoroughly inspect the subject home of the transaction. Within the scope of the home inspection most inspectors offer the service of testing for radon level in the home. The process of testing for radon is accomplished with a passive kit, or an electronic testing device set in a closed home for at least 48 hours that captures a reading of radon level in the subject home. Some testing may be accomplished in a shorter amount of time by more sophisticated monitor equipment.

“Who cares about the radon level in my home?” you may ask. Without getting into health implications of living in a home with a higher radon level let’s consider what happens in the real estate transaction. According to the EPA, the maximum acceptable level of radon is 4.0 pCi/L. This means if the average level of radon in the home tested is at this level or above, the buyer, through their Realtor, will typically negotiate with a seller to correct or mitigate the level of radon in the home before closing.

In the instance mentioned above the owner/seller of the home generally will hire a radon mitigation contractor who will assess the home for the best method of installation of a radon mitigation system. Installation can usually be accomplished in less than a day. After the system has been working for at least 48 hours, sometimes more, the contractor will retest the home for a post installation level of radon that can be known within several days after the test. Most radon mitigation systems resolve the problem on the first try. For more information about radon mitigation systems and cost contact a reputable mitigator such as Dixon Radon Systems at 719-314-5910 or Blue Bird Radon at 719-619-6363.

In a future column, we’ll take a more thorough look at the home inspection process including other areas of the home and how it affects the real estate transaction. In the meantime, feel free to call me with questions about any information I have presented. See you next time.

Michael Harper is owner/broker of Michael Harper Real Estate. Contact him through his website, MichaelHarperRealtor.com.

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