Is radon testing typically part of a home inspection process?

Asked by House Hunter, New York, NY Thu Jun 11, 2009

And are home inspectors qualified to perform this test or would a licensed radon professional be called in? Thanks in advance!

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18
Kenneth Verb…, Agent, PRINCETON, NJ
Fri Jun 12, 2009
re your last question, any system that moves air from one part of the house to another will also effect the concentrations thru the house. Radon doesnt settle into the basement, it comes from below and rises. This is why even passive systems may reduce the levels. (passive are without the fan and typically tie into the french drains then exit thru roof)
2 votes
John Sacktig, Agent, New Jersey, NJ
Thu Jun 11, 2009
House Hunter,

Since Ken is looking to play one up :) I have been at inspections that the inspector has an machine that tests within an hour with a printed report. Not too many people have these and the inspector charged much more for this ( I guess he had to pay for the machine) and offered both tests.

How about this, The MOST COMMON test is the canister that is left behind in the house for a measured period of time, retrieved, sealed and sent to a lab for results.

There are not many options on how to have the testing done and I would dare say, from my expereince in Real Estate and being at home inspections 99.9% of all I have seen, the radon test has been the canister form of test with the results being questioned 2x ( two times).
2 votes
Kenneth Verb…, Agent, PRINCETON, NJ
Thu Jun 11, 2009
test isnt always cannister as often I have seen continuous monitoring system used where a tape is generated which will show if it is turned off moved or even doors/windows opened. This requires inspector to retriev. Often the mail in tests are of questionable validity as there is no chain of custody in handling.
In short ,many procedures and atleast a couple of testing methods.
2 votes
John Sacktig, Agent, New Jersey, NJ
Thu Jun 11, 2009
House Hunter,

It is totally up to you to do the test, it usually is about $90 added onto the inspection bill. I recomend that the client do it, especially in certain areas that I know have had high readings. The test is a "mail -in" test for the inspector, where he/she leaves behind a small canister of air collecting material (charcoal) which is left in the basement for a measured period of time, sealed and sent to a lab for results.
2 votes
Kenneth Verb…, Agent, PRINCETON, NJ
Thu Jun 11, 2009
Check with your specific inspector to be sure, some times inspectors job out things like the wood boring insect portion, water test,septic test,lead ...Some areas are more prone to radon than others. In Princeton area radon is often above the 4.0 limit though in some areas in Pa I service very uncommon. Not an expensive test I encourage it for all buyers (except upper level flats), even homes on slab should check if in areas of possible high radon.
2 votes
Diane Glander, Agent, Spring Lake, NJ
Thu Jun 11, 2009
I also always recommend a radon test. They are generally inexpensive when purchased as a part of a home inspection package.
While we do not often find Radon in the shore towns of Monmouth County, it has been detected in some local homes. Better to find out ahead of time and have the seller remediate (which isn't very difficult) than find out afterwards and you have to pay for it.
Local inspectors are qualified to perform the test and if you need the name of a good local company, try Eastern Home Inspections. They are excellent.
Web Reference:  http://www.dianeglander.com
2 votes
Heather Dacc…, , Monmouth County, NJ
Thu Jun 11, 2009
Hi House Hunter,
I always recommend that my clients perform a radon test but it is usually an option with the home inspection companies. Most home inspectors use a canister radon test and yes they are qualified to put the canister in the home and collect the canister when the test is complete. The canister is then sent to a certified lab for the results.

Good Luck with your home search.

Thanks,
Heather Daccurso
Weichert Realtors
Office: 732-577-0440
Cell: 732-580-5309
Email: heather@heatherdaccurso.com
2 votes
John Sacktig, Agent, New Jersey, NJ
Mon Aug 24, 2009
Just an update: I called the DEP and got a call back.. the measurement company is where canister is sent to and must be certified by the state.

This is from the NJ Website:

SELECTING & ARRANGING FOR TESTS
Homeowners can test for radon themselves or hire a New Jersey certified radon measurement company to perform the testing. Some certified radon measurement companies sell test kits, and test kits are often available in hardware stores or from local health departments. A list of certified companies, including companies that can mail you a "do-it-yourself" test, is available through the NJDEP Radon Program’s Information Line, (800)648-0394, or web site, http://www.njradon.org.
If you buy your test from a retail store, make sure that the kit is labeled with the New Jersey certification number of the company that produced the test kit (the number will begin with "MEB9’" followed by 4 digits), or you can call the Information Line to confirm that the company is certified. If you hire a contractor to do the test, make sure the technician who places and picks up the test device is certified by the State, by checking their NJDEP certificate or calling the Radon Information Line. It is against the law to do radon testing or mitigation without certification in New Jersey.

The measurement technician, is the company that receives the canister.. so the statement below is twist of words.

The good that comes from these posts is that we get to notice that some home inspectors get very over dramatic about their business, they feel empowered by overwhelming a petrified home buyer with their vast knowledge of homes and the “potential” of damage and “possible” failure of items. Kind of like, Visualize this.. home inspector walks in.. Takes a deep breath, and states.. well folks, I saw a mosquito in the bedroom, (sighs) well, it may be a sign that possibly, water has gotten into the floor boards near the shower, where there may possibly be a colony of about 90,000 mosquitoes. But don’t be alarmed, be glad that I caught the possible nest. A treatment can take care of it.. feels proud of himself and now moves on to the kitchen (exit, stage left).
1 vote
John Sacktig, Agent, New Jersey, NJ
Fri Aug 14, 2009
So what about the test kits that are sold at Home Depot?
If used, will a home owner be arrested by the radon police? Will they be fined? Jail time?

That is a funny one.. ( but of course in a serious vein )

Hey, what you in for? Bank Robbery, You? Radon canister.....

I never thought about it too much, but I am guessing that the licensed home inspectors/engineers that I recomend to my clients are qualified to handle such duties since they offer it and I will be sure to inquire about it.
1 vote
the test kits at home depot can be purchased from the company directly at a much cheaper price if you are a licensed Home Inspector. They are a certified lab and return results from lab after another 48 hours.
Flag Wed Jun 24, 2015
Emmanuel Sca…, , Collin County, TX
Thu Jun 11, 2009
Hello House Hunter,

Kenneth is on the mark there. The cannister tests are always easy to affect the results of and have been done before. The continuous monitoring systems are generally a more expensive test but as Kenneth points out they are much harder to influence by a homeowner. If the CMS equipment is kept properly maintained and calibrated (when necessary) the results are more reliable.

If you would like to read more on Radon and Radon testing (including methods) the EPA site is very good http://www.epa.gov/radon/. There are many sources that can explain also how CMS systems are superior to canister systems.

Good luck on the home purchase!

Emmanuel J. Scanlan
PS Inspection & Property Services LLC
http://www.psinspection.com
214-418-4366 (cell)
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Knowledge is power, but sharing knowledge brings peace!!
Web Reference:  http://www.psinspection.com
1 vote
Rafi Footerm…, Agent, Edison, NJ
Sun Dec 6, 2009
There is a lot of truth in these postings, but also some important details missing. In New Jersey:

A homeowner may perform their own test with a store bought kit and send it to the lab to get the results. However, this is NOT effective for a real estate transaction (unless the buyer wants to accept the seller's test which is unlikely). Only a state certified Radon Measurement Technician or Specialst may pace or retrieve a test. A home inspection license is not acceptable nor can the seller/owner retrieve this cannister.

The 1 hour test that John described does exist, but is NOT permitted in the state.

There is truth to the fact that any test can be tampered with, but the penalties are very high. When in doubt, another test can be performed after closing and if the results are dramatically different...

Most home inspectors (or at least the good ones) are certified by the state and work with a quality lab. The largest lab by far in the state is Radiation Data in Skillman. Feel free to call them and ask for advise. I have found them to be very helpfull and knowledgable.

Feel free to contact me for more information. When part of a home inspection, I only charge $50 for a radon test as I'd rather my clients have the information than save a few dollars.

Rafi Footerman
Mid Jersey Inspections
732-906-4100
NJ Home Inspector Lic. #076900
0 votes
karen westpy, Agent, Toms River, NJ
Fri Dec 4, 2009
No it is extra, you have a basic inspection of the house then, radon along with termite even water testing is an extra fee. any one can perform these tests; Water, radon, not sure about the termite test but the others you can do yourself and send it into a Lab they sell kits at all the home improvement centers.
0 votes
Kenneth Verb…, Agent, PRINCETON, NJ
Mon Aug 24, 2009
not sure where this thread has gone, but to comment on a few of the posts, sure a homeowner can do any test they want on their home. If they fill out a sellers disclosure indicating something different from what they know to be true they could run into problems down the line. Just as is the case with water tests, there is always a chain of custody requirement when licenses and certifications are involved. After all you are paying for this and presenting your results as "certified" . While the cannister tests can be effected by opening windows or moving the cannister (which would likely invalidate the results) this is in my opinion justification for the constant monitoring system where readings are continually taken and recorded. (You can note when windows or doors effect the levels) As to the notion of taking samples after moving in ,I wouldnt pay a licensed firm for a repeat test though perhaps the home owner test would suffice to let me know how the level is with my family's life style.
If an agent moved a cannister or in some way tried to manipulate the results, as a fellow professional a $750 fine seems pretty light. (Personally I believe it grounds for permanent loss of license)
0 votes
Mike Hart, Other Pro, Albuquerque, NM
Mon Aug 24, 2009
Actually, the laws of each state can be different. In New Mexico, they have decided that the person who places the measurement device(s) in the home is the technician who must be certified by the state.

This makes better sense to me, because proper placement, and environmental controls are imperative to accurate results.
0 votes
Joy DeLucia, , Holmdel, NJ
Sun Aug 23, 2009
In every transaction I have been involved in ( Monmouth County ) the inspector did the radon test as a part of there inspection. They would need access in a few days to retrieve the canister and send it out to a lab for evaluation. When the results come back they often include suggestions on how to remedy excessive radon levels in their report.
Web Reference:  http://www.JoyDeLucia.com
0 votes
Mike Hart, Other Pro, Albuquerque, NM
Fri Aug 14, 2009
The problem with Radon testing during the course of a real estate transaction, is this:

The Radon Testing professional cannot control the opening of doors to the house, and operation of ventilations systems which will affect the outcome of the test.

Get a Radon Test done before buying the house, but follow it up with a professional Radon Test after you have control of the home which must be kept closed up simulating winter conditions.
0 votes
Peterbennett, Other Pro, Little Silver, NJ
Thu Aug 13, 2009
Home inspectors are not qualified to conduct a test, only a licensed measurement technician is allowed to place and retrieve a radon canister in a real estate transaction. While some home inspectors are also licensed to do so, there are no exceptions. The chain of custody starts and ends with the licensed measurement technician. Anyone tampering with the canister can be fined. A couple of years ago, a real estate agent was hit with $750 fine, ouch. The test kit must be approved by the State.
Check out the http://nj-radon.info/NJ_counties.html web site.

Peter W. Bennett, Owner
Residential, Commercial Inspections
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0 votes
House Hunter, Home Buyer, New York, NY
Thu Jun 11, 2009
Great answers everyone!

Hypothetically speaking, if there was a central air unit (air handler portion) in the basement without a radon mitigation system installed, could this possibly disperse the gas to the other floors?
0 votes
For Real Estate Transactions, accuracy and timeliness are two critical factors. The canister type tests are Ok, but typically require a "sampling" of the air for at least two weeks. The canister is then submitted for analysis and it could take up to two more weeks for a return report. Totaled up that could be 30 days from start to finish. A continuous monitor test by a state licensed tech will cost more, but it takes an air sample every hour and in many states 48 hours is considered a valid test period. The average of these 48 hourly samples is then reported. This whole process can provide the client a valid test results in 3 days. Usually this will provide the potential buyer adequate time to negotiate mitigation of the problem with the seller if the results are 4 Pc/L or higher.
Dave
Illinois Radon Tech.
Flag Thu Oct 6, 2016
For Real Estate Transactions, accuracy and timeliness are two critical factors. The canister type tests are Ok, but typically require a "sampling" of the air for at least two weeks. The canister is then submitted for analysis and it could take up to two more weeks for a return report. Totaled up that could be 30 days from start to finish. A continuous monitor test by a state licensed tech will cost more, but it takes an air sample every hour and in many states 48 hours is considered a valid test period. The average of these 48 hourly samples is then reported. This whole process can provide the client a valid test results in 3 days. Usually this will provide the potential buyer adequate time to negotiate mitigation of the problem with the seller if the results are 4 Pc/L or higher.
Dave
Illinois Radon Tech.
Flag Thu Oct 6, 2016
For Real Estate Transactions, accuracy and timeliness are two critical factors. The canister type tests are Ok, but typically require a "sampling" of the air for at least two weeks. The canister is then submitted for analysis and it could take up to two more weeks for a return report. Totaled up that could be 30 days from start to finish. A continuous monitor test by a state licensed tech will cost more, but it takes an air sample every hour and in many states 48 hours is considered a valid test period. The average of these 48 hourly samples is then reported. This whole process can provide the client a valid test results in 3 days. Usually this will provide the potential buyer adequate time to negotiate mitigation of the problem with the seller if the results are 4 Pc/L or higher.
Dave
Illinois Radon Tech.
Flag Thu Oct 6, 2016
For Real Estate Transactions, accuracy and timeliness are two critical factors. The canister type tests are Ok, but typically require a "sampling" of the air for at least two weeks. The canister is then submitted for analysis and it could take up to two more weeks for a return report. Totaled up that could be 30 days from start to finish. A continuous monitor test by a state licensed tech will cost more, but it takes an air sample every hour and in many states 48 hours is considered a valid test period. The average of these 48 hourly samples is then reported. This whole process can provide the client a valid test results in 3 days. Usually this will provide the potential buyer adequate time to negotiate mitigation of the problem with the seller if the results are 4 Pc/L or higher.
Dave
Illinois Radon Tech.
Flag Thu Oct 6, 2016
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