As strategic real estate investors and homeowners, you’re well aware of the importance of installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, but there’s another airborne risk you should know about to protect your family and tenants: radon gas.
What is Radon Gas?
When naturally occurring uranium in the ground breaks down, it produces a radioactive gas called radon. Radon is colourless and odourless, so you won’t see or smell it; but, if it collects and accumulates in confined spaces, it can be hazardous to your health. Most people don’t know about this potentially dangerous gas but it is becoming more widely known.
Radon is found in most houses, and even in condos especially in the 1st through 3rd floor but at varying levels. The amount of radon in your property depends on your ventilation, the number of entry points such as foundation cracks, pipes and floor drains, and the amount of uranium in the ground. Even new houses can have dangerous levels of radon gas.
Here are links to maps of Canada, BC and the US that presents the various potential hazardous levels of Radon.
Why Should you Care?
Next to smoking, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer, attributable to 16% of lung cancer deaths in Canada per year. Canadian standards recommend that homeowners take corrective action if the radon concentration in their home is more than 200 Becquerel per cubic metre (Bq/m3). The only way to find out how much radon is in your home is to test for it.
Despite existing test results in your neighbourhood, radon levels can vary from house to house. Health Canada recommends that all Canadians test their homes. As strategic investors, it is recommended that you or your property management either test or hire a service to test your properties for radon gas. If you own condos this should include the basement levels and underground parking garages.
How do I Test for Radon Gas?
Radon test kits cost between $30 and $60. You can pick one up from your local hardware store or order one online for Canadians, and for US property owners use this link to find out more.
Health Canada recommends using a long-term radon test kit that comes with a radon detector. Most kits require exposure to the air in your home for a minimum of three months, in a commonly used area at, or near, the lowest level. The best time to test is in the winter when windows and doors are closed. For best results, make sure you follow the directions provided in the test kit.
You can also hire a certified radon measurement professional to measure your home or property for radon gas. On Vancouver Island, there is a program to receive a free radon test kit.
How do I Fix a Radon Gas Problem?
If your radon test kit finds levels above 200 Bq/m3 in your home, your best option is to hire a professional who can suggest an appropriate solution, which typically involves installing a pipe in your foundation that draws the gas out with a fan.
Visit the Government of Canada website for more information.
Lastly, in BC there are new disclosure rules coming into effect for sellers and sellers’ agents for Radon Gas.
Click Here for a helpful BC Financial Services Authority link:
Although this BCFSA SELLER’S checklist for radon gas is for the realtors, it’s worth knowing as a seller what is required. Click here to download the seller’s checklist
Although this BCFSA BUYER’S checklist for radon gas is for the realtors, it’s worth knowing as a buyer what is required. Click here to download the buyer’s checklist.
In closing, please review the links to better understand the issue and protect your family, your tenants, yourself and your deals whether a buyer, seller or investor. Please email me if I can assist further.