LESLIE: Steve in Illinois is dealing with some radon. How can we help you at your money pit?
STEVE: We live in a house that is – well, we’re the original buyers. We’ve been here about 33 years. And I ran a radon test and it came out to be like 9.4; which is quite high, in my understanding.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Which is high.
STEVE: And what I was concerned with – somewhere down the line, we may wind up, you know, having to sell the house and I would like to get this cleared up, if possible, before we would sell it. And I was wondering if you guys have any economical ways of handling this.
TOM: Certainly. You could open up all the windows, Steve, and that would solve it, once and for all.
TOM: Did you do the test in the basement?
TOM: Alright. So that’s going to be the highest place in the house. And you did this test in the winter?
TOM: And that’s going to be the highest time that you’re going to get a high reading, because the house is more sealed up than it would be any other time of the year. So I think what you’ve identified here is a seasonal high for radon. You’ll find that it does go down across the space of the year if you were to do multiple tests. But because it’s over 4.0 picocuries per liter of air, you do need to put in a radon mitigation system.
The systems are reasonably expensive and probably (Leslie chuckles) in the $3,000 to $5,000 range.
STEVE: (overlapping voices) Ooh! OK.
LESLIE: But I mean, well worth it because there are health problems associated with radon.
TOM: Well, yeah and also a real estate problem if you want to sell this house and it almost always falls to the seller. You might get it done for less, especially in this market right now.
But the way it works is they drill a line into the floor of your house; it’s called a sub-slab ventilation system, in the basement. And they carve out a space under that hole, kind of like the size of a sump pump. And sometimes you can do this right from the sump itself, by the way, if you can seal the top of the sump. And basically, you have a pipe that goes on there that’s hooked up to a radon fan and it sucks out the gas from below the slab and pulls it outside. And that runs 24/7 and it costs $5 or $10 a month in electricity to run but it will reduce the radon level to a safe level.
So the question is when do you want to do that. Do you want to do it now or do you want to wait until you sell your house? If you’re using the basement a lot, I’d do it as soon as possible; if you’re not, you know, maybe I’d put it off a little bit but you definitely are going to have to get it done one way or the other. 9.4 is high but I’ve seen houses that have been 50, 80, 100 picocuries as well.
TOM: And the interesting thing is it costs just the same to get rid of the gas.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Whether it’s 9 or 100.
STEVE: (overlapping voices) Right, right.
STEVE: OK. Well, I appreciate your help. At least that gives me an idea of what I need to look to, to get it done.
TOM: Alright, Steve. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.