When you are purchasing a home, this usually the single most expensive and important decision you will face. So you should of course protect yourself as best you can and ask lots of questions during the transaction. Your realtor can help advise and guide you through the entire process. Although one of the commonly missed things is Radon. This is missed due to the inadequate awareness of Radon in general, but the fact is that there is Radon in any structure that is in contact with the ground. Building type does not matter, it is just a matter of how much Radon is present. Awareness in Canada is gradually getting better and more people are finding out about Radon and the associated risks every day.
So what do you know about Radon in the building you are going to purchase? Has it been measured before? Is there a mitigation system? Was it tested again after mitigation with a certified test device? Unfortunately there is no mandatory requirement for Radon testing at the time of purchase, however until recently no testing guidelines existed either. The best testing is conducted for a period of 91 days through October to April. This does not necessarily fit the timelines involved in a Real Estate transaction. CARST has set out new Radon testing guidelines for Real Estate transactions that employ different options to Radon testing from pre listing to post purchase testing.
Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists
Helping Canadians Reduce Radon Risk
Things to Consider When Buying a Home
A recent Health Canada survey revealed that 7% of Canadians are living in homes with high radon levels. While all homes have some level of radon, the consideration that needs to be made when considering a purchase is how likely it is that the radon level is high, and how much it will cost to fix.
Radon enters a building through contact with the ground.
Here are a few examples:
- unfinished dirt or gravel floors
- construction joints (joints in the concrete)
- gaps around service pipes
- open sump pits
- openings in the foundation
If you’ve fallen in love with your dream home; it’s important to know that all homes can be fixed and have their radon levels reduced. You can move into your home and test for radon during the first heating season that you occupy the house. After a long-term radon test is completed, you will know what the radon level is and whether or not it needs to be reduced.
If you aren’t sure you want to purchase a test without some indication of the radon level, CARST has developed a guideline for conducting a Radon Screening Assessment to give you an indication of how likely it is that a home has elevated radon levels.
Understanding a Radon Assessment During a Real Estate Transaction
Here’s how an assessment during a real-estate transaction works:
First, contact a C-NRPP Measurement Professional to conduct a Radon Screening Assessment for you.
The occupant of the home must agree to the test, and also to keeping the home under ‘closed house’ conditions for as long as required.
Closed-house conditions include:
- Windows should stay closed at all times,
- External doors opened only for entry and exit,
- Attached garage doors should be opened only for entry and exit,
- Fireplaces should not be operated during the radon test, unless they are the primary heat source.
- Clothes dryer, range hood, and bathroom fan operation should be limited to the minimum necessary,
- Radon mitigation systems shall be operated as normal.
- Heat-Recovery Ventilator (HRV) and Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) shall be left to operate (or not operate) as found. For example, if an HRV is plugged in and working it should be left working, if unplugged, should be left unplugged.
The Radon Screening Assessment will be set up by the C-NRPP Measurement Professional. The detector must be in place for a minimum of 4 days. A longer duration is preferred, but not always practical in a real estate situation.The C-NRPP Measurement Professional has specific guidelines about where and how to place the test, as well as how to report on the results. This may include using 2 detectors, depending on the type of devices used.
Understanding my Radon Assessment Report
The Radon Assessment Report will provide a result of Green, Yellow or Red to help you understand the likelihood that the annual average radon concentration could be above 200 Bq/m3.
Green Test Result
A Green Test Result indicates a radon screening assessment of 75 Bq/m3 or less during the heating season and 50 Bq/m3 or less outside the heating season. It is important to note that a “Green” test does not guarantee that the annual average radon concentration in the dwelling is below 200 Bq/m3. A long-term follow-up radon measurement conducted during the next heating season must still be carried out.
Yellow Test Result
A Yellow Test Result indicates a radon screening assessment of greater than 75 Bq/m3 during the heating season or 50 Bq/m3outside the heating season, up to and including 400 Bq/m3. This result indicates that there is a higher likelihood that the annual average radon concentration is above 200 Bq/m3.
Red Test Result
A Red Test Result indicates a radon screening assessment of greater than 400 Bq/m3. This result indicates a strong likelihood that the annual average radon concentration is above 200 Bq/m3.
Do I Need to Worry About Newly Built Homes?
New homes are not radon free. Some new homes feature radon resistant features, but these does not guarantee low levels. Testing is ALWAYS recommended when occupying a new space. Ontario Homes are covered under the Tarion warranty which provides free mitigation when radon levels are above Canada’s guideline within the first 7 years of the home being constructed. Find more information here.