The Dangers of Radon in the Home


You may know that radon gas is dangerous, but never thought it could affect your home. Radon in the home is a problem for a couple of reasons. First, it is not detectable without a special radon test. Second, it can cause lung cancer. Read on to learn what you can do to protect your family from radon.

Where Does Radon Come From?

Radon is a gas that naturally forms underground when other radioactive elements decay. It drifts upwards into the atmosphere and can easily enter houses through gaps and cracks. Once the gas is inside a building, it builds up. Exposure to elevated levels of radon has been linked to cases of lung cancer.

Testing for Radon in the Home

Homeowners need a radon test to learn about the levels of radon in a house. While inexpensive DIY radon testing kits are available, they often return inaccurate results. Experts recommend using a licensed radon measurement technician who uses superior equipment and has been trained on how to administer the test. For a matter as serious as your family’s health, you don’t want any errors.

What Happens if Radon Levels in the Home are High?

Fortunately, there are ways to lower high radon levels. The EPA says that any level at 4 pCi/L or higher needs mitigation. Radon mitigation companies employ a variety of techniques to suction radon from underneath the house and ventilate it out of the living spaces.

Every home should be tested for radon. The radon levels of one home and the home next door can be drastically different from one another. There is no way to tell if a home is safe from high radon levels without ordering a professional radon test.

Premier Home & Environmental Inspection Services conduct professional radon tests by licensed radon measurement technicians. Contact us to schedule a radon test in Northern New Jersey.

It is common for older homes in New Jersey and other states to have underground fuel storage tanks on the property. Many of these tanks are in place even if they are no longer in use. If you’re shopping for a house, an underground oil tank on the property may pose a risk if it hasn’t been properly decommissioned.

Usually, the only way to find out if a property has an underground tank is to have a trained professional perform a fuel storage tank search. In some cases, however, there may be visible signs that an oil tank is buried. These signs might include:

  • A vent cap or fill valve sticking out of the ground
  • Oil lines coming out of the basement
  • Stains visible near the furnace

If you are purchasing a new home, ask the sellers agent or current homeowner for information about fuel storage tanks on the property. If you find out that an underground oil tank is present, find out if and how it was decommissioned.

Decommissioning an Unused Tank

If the underground oil tank is no longer in use, it should be decommissioned. There are a couple of ways to safely close a tank.

  • Remove the tank from the property. This is the recommended method, though more expensive than leaving it in place.
  • Empty, clean, and fill the tank with concrete or other material to prevent collapse.

If an oil tank has been decommissioned properly, having an underground fuel tank is relatively risk-free, though some lenders will not finance a home with an underground tank. A home inspector who specializes in oil tank location can help you determine the status of the tank.

An Active Underground Oil Tank

There are some liabilities that come along with a home that is heated from oil stored in an underground tank. Fuel leaks are a serious problem that damages property and contaminates the soil. A leak will affect the resale value of the property and can result in fines. Oil tank insurance is available in some states, but the safest option is to remove the tank and establish a different heating source for the home.

Premier Home Inspection Services offers home inspections and oil tank scans in New Jersey. Contact us to schedule an appointment.