If you are planning on buying a home in Pittsburgh, you will want to consider having radon testing completed as part of your home inspection. Radon is a radioactive gas which can come through the foundation of your home and grow to unhealthy levels. In turn, large levels of radon may cause cancer if exposure is too large (radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US). Many Pittsburgh home inspectors will automatically complete radon testing as part of your overall home inspection. This is especially important because Pittsburgh homes, as well as homes throughout the entire state of Pennsylvania, have higher than average levels of radon due to the higher levels of uranium ore which exist in the area. The uranium in the soil surrounding your home can breakdown, causing the creation of the radon gas which can than seep through cracks in the foundation of your home.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that you complete radon remediation if the levels of radon in your home are above 4pCi/L. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the average radon levels in many Pittsburgh homes are well above this average and would require action to reduce radon levels. For example, homes in Squirrel Hill have an average radon level of 5pCi/L and homes in McCandless have an average radon level of 7.8pCi/L. High levels of radon can be found in even the most expensive Pittsburgh homes as homes in Sewickley have an average radon level of 7.1pCi/L and homes in Fox Chapel have an average radon level of 8.4pCi/L.
Since these average radon levels are in some cases more than double the level of radon that the EPA suggests, you will certainly want to have your Pittsburgh home tested for radon in so that you can ensure that any existing radon issues are taken care of before you finalize your purchase (if radon issues are found during the home inspection, you may negotiate to have the radon remediation paid for by those selling the property). Radon testing is fairly simple and can easily be completed as part of your Pittsburgh home inspection. The radon testing device will be placed in the lowest level of your home (typically the basement). Radon testing can take place on a short-term basis (several days) or a long-term basis (90 or more days). For the purposes of a home inspection, radon testing is typically completed on the shorter basis. Since radon levels can differ greatly depending upon outside conditions, tests are often completed a second time to confirm that a high reading is accurate.
Finding that your dream Pittsburgh home has a high level of radon does not mean that you shouldn’t finalize your purchase. Radon remediation in Pittsburgh homes usually costs around $800 and can be completed fairly quickly. Typically, a system consisting of a pipe and fan is installed in your home. This will reduce the radon levels and has been found to be an effective way of controlling radon levels.