Crawlspaces and Radon Gas . . .

Home Inspector with Complete Home Inspections, Inc. TN Lic#050

One of the biggest misconceptions about radon gas is that if the property has a crawl space, the crawl space venting will dissipate the gas to the outside. WRONG! I have been doing home inspections in the Nashville, TN area the past few days, and on two of the properties, the buyers requested that I do a Radon test. Both properties were located in the Sevier Park area off Granny White Pike just south of I-440. One was new construction and the other was a 1950's property. Both had Radon Levels above 20 pCi/l (pico Curies per liter). According to the EPA, any reading above 4.0 pCi/l is considered elevated and must be mitigated. It does not matter if the property has a crawl space or is built on a slab. The geology under the property determines if the property will have elevated levels of Radon.

Middle Tennessee is considered a high radon belt and it is highly suggested, that as a part of the property transaction, a Radon test be conducted. The buyers of these properties were glad they did. The $125.00 test saved them about $1000.00 in remediation costs.  Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States second only to cigarettes. 

This posting and the contents written here are the intellectual property of Michael Thornton of Complete Home Inspections, Inc. providing home inspections for Brentwood, Nashville, Davidson and Williamson Counties of Middle Tennessee. The views and opinions expressed are just that - views and opinions of Michael Thornton and those who comment.  This post is a contribution to the ActiveRain Real Estate Network.

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Gary McAdams
GMAC Schwartz Property Sales - Key West, FL

That is interesting when I see it broken down like that.  We don't have basements here so we don't see that often.  You would do well in The Florida Keys.  None of our inspectors break things down the way you do.  I admit I have one inspector I use on everything and he's great but not as detailed as you are.


Mar 18, 2008 12:16 AM #1
Dick Betts
Dick Betts National Speaker - The Villages, FL
National Speaker to the Real Estate Industry
Thank you, I never really understood Radon or how some homes have it and others don't.  Learn something every day.
Mar 18, 2008 12:37 AM #2
Larry Brewer - Benchmark Realty llc
Benchmark Realty LLc - Nashville, TN
Radon is a mystery to most people. I'll send this to my future buyers.
Mar 18, 2008 12:40 AM #3
Mary Strang
Viroqua, WI

Do you recommend sealing all crawl space in homes with plastic vapor barriers? Many homes I see, that are older never had that done. I just wonder if it is important to do this?

Mar 18, 2008 12:46 AM #4
Bill Somerset
Re/Max Realty Group - Dover, NH
ABR, e-PRO - Realtor - NH Real Estate Agent
Good post Michael.  I have taken a couple classes recently on radon and have been amazed with the information that is available.  I thought that it is a recommended level at or above 4.0, not required.
Mar 18, 2008 12:58 AM #5
TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029
Mary, The only way to properly get rid of Radon Gas is to have a fan system installed that sucks the gas to the outside of the house where it dissipates into the atmosphere. I hope that this helps.
Mar 18, 2008 01:09 AM #6
Sean Allen
International Financing Solutions - Fort Myers, FL
International Financing Solutions

WOW ..... HOLY COW ...... I never new RADON was so bad for causing lung cancer. WOW, I sure would have that test done too if it were common in our area.

Sean Allen

Mar 18, 2008 01:48 PM #7
Joseph Ellman
Realty Executives- Williams-Sykes Realty - Poughkeepsie, NY
Michael - Very interesting information.  Testing is common here in NY, as well.
Mar 18, 2008 08:56 PM #8
Kelly Shoemaker
Coldwell Banker SELECT - Broken Arrow, OK
Realtor Broken Arrow, OK
We don't have RADON testing here in Oklahoma although I have heard of the test.  But why is that?  Is RADON Gas generated from the soil?
Mar 19, 2008 12:54 AM #9
Jesse & Kathy Clifton
Jesse Clifton & Associates, REALTORS® - Fairbanks, AK

Radon is fairly common around Fairbanks... we're seeing it crop up in high quantities where it was nonexistent a few years ago.  Good thing mitigation is typically inexpensive. 

Mar 19, 2008 07:01 PM #10
Jason Rose
123 ConEd LLC -- Michigan real estate continuing education - Farmington Hills, MI

Thanks for the great post, Michael.  You provided some really good information about radon and crawlspaces.

Most people do not know this, but radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and is believed to be responsible for an estimated 21,000 deaths per year. 

I'm writing from Michigan.  According to the CDC, more than 600 radon-related deaths are projected to occur in Michigan this year alone.  According to the EPA, one in eight homes in Michigan is expected to have an elevated indoor radon level, and in some counties more than 40% of the homes are expected to have a problem. The only way to know if YOUR home has a problem is to test.

If you are a real estate professional, radon and indoor air is something you should know about. It is a serious health risk, but there are simple and inexpensive ways to test for it and fix it if necessary. Like any health risk today, it is something that more and more people know about either through a home sale or through the media.

This is such an important issue for real estate professionals that I'm in the process of preparing a continuing education course exclusively on radon for my online continuing education school. The course will inform Michigan real estate professionals all about radon and what they need to know in order to properly advise buyers and sellers.

Feb 17, 2009 11:50 PM #11

this picture helped me allot about radon and this is wht  use for my chmistry class for he power poing

Feb 24, 2009 01:05 AM #12
Steve Traylor
A+ Home Inspections dba A+ Services, LLC - Franklin, TN
ASHI Certified Home Inspector

Good info.

Mar 23, 2011 02:00 PM #13
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