As seen in most recent Tip at Ten of “Home Schooled,” testing for the presence of radon gas is a crucial part of the home inspection process.  Radon is an odorless and tasteless gas that cannot be seen by the naked eye. It is the result of uranium found in rock deposits way below the ground. The uranium decays and breaks off into radium and, eventually, into radon gas. The radon gas subsequently enters a home through tiny cracks in a basement or through other means such as windows or a sump pump. Therefore, radon is most commonly found in a basement or lowest livable level of a home.

Being exposed to radon gas can have a detrimental effect on a person’s health. Therefore, it is imperative to determine the amount of radon gas that is present in a home through the home inspection process. To this end, New Jersey has three “tiers” to determine levels of radon gas.  Tier 1 is the highest level, whereas tier 3 is the lowest. To this end, certain areas of Princeton, Ewing, and Hamilton Townships all have tier 1 areas and, therefore, testing for radon gas is somewhat crucial.

Testing for radon gas consists of utilizing a radon charcoal canister. The canister contains 1 ounce of charcoal with a screen and is placed in the lowest livable area of the home. It is typically placed on a counter approximately 30 inches off the ground, 1 foot away from any exterior wall, and 3 feet from any window. The canister is left there for a minimum of 48 hours but can be left for up to 96 hours. The canister is then picked up and sent to a lab for testing. Any result above 4.0 picocures is deemed “not in good standing” and, thus, must be mitigated.

Testing for radon gas is one of the most important steps in the home inspection process. Such a test will allow the homebuyer to detect the “undetectable” in an effort to prevent exposure to harmful gas. Next week the topic of radon mitigation will be discussed so please be sure to tune in to the next Tip at Ten in the next version of “Home Schooled.” Also, please continue to check this blog periodically for vital information about the home inspection process.