January, 2015
Feature
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Radon Mitigation Systems in Existing Homes

SALLY CHAPRALIS

Many ASHI members have added radon testing to their home inspection services since the early 1990s. ASHI is now considering a certificate for completion of an educational program focusing on inspection of radon mitigation systems in existing homes.

“Radon systems have been installed since the 1980s, but many systems, which were ‘permanent’ installations, may no longer be performing as expected,” explains Shawn Price, President of The American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST). “Properly installed systems may have been altered, damaged or simply showing their age, while others may have been put together in a rush, leading to sloppy workmanship, and violations in the mitigation standards such as substandard materials, wiring without licensed electricians, improper discharge points. These problems often affect the long-term operation of the system and, quite frankly, are dangers to the families living in these homes. It is in our best interest to properly train professionals to identify the problems and potential hazards. It makes sense that home inspectors could fill this need of system inspection.”

Shawn notes that builders who are installing radon mitigation systems at the time of construction often do not understand the qualities of a fully functional system that makes them work, much less meet the standards. “Instead, when making a decision about a system installer, they often turn to the plumbers since they are the subcontractor who glues PVC pipe, going with convenience and price and not on knowledge and experience. Furthermore, if the system is, for example, ten or more years old, it’s already getting old and may not be functioning properly. So, while many systems have been installed, no one is looking at them. This could be a new and important role for home inspectors.”

As ASHI explores this critical issue and opportunity for its members, it will consult with AARST about the content for an ASHI Continuing Educational program and certificate of completion. 

AARST is an accredited standards developer (by the American National Standards Institute ANSI) and is the caretaker of national radon standards in the United States. AARST also administers the National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP) that certifies radon testing and mitigation professionals, and many of them are also members of ASHI.

“While radon mitigation system testing may be considered an ‘ancillary’ service and is not yet covered in home inspection schools and Standards of Practice, it becomes more critical every day,” Shawn adds. “The complexities of standards are always evolving and, thus, so is the need for training to remain current and relevant.”

“While existing systems must be inspected and we have to retrofit systems that may have worn out, builders are being pressured to install systems in new buildings.” 

“It’s obvious that radon inspection is required for public health concerns, and, as our nonprofit association’s members understand, AARST is dedicated to high standards and ethical performance. We look forward to working with ASHI as it addresses its educational and professional goals."

Sally Chapralis is the Consulting Editor for the ASHI Reporter. Her writing, business communications and PR experience includes working with construction and real estate industry publications.