Maine water has been well documented for having elevated levels of Radon Gas in both household water & air – especially when compared to other parts of the country.
In this article we’ll explain why the presence of Radon is such a concern, how to be prepared if you are buying or selling a home, and how to protect your family if your water does test high for Radon gas.
What is Radon?
Radon is a tasteless, odorless gas that enters a home through both Water and Air supplies.
Radon is produced through the natural breakdown of Uranium in the earth’s bedrock. Radon enters household air supplies primarily as a result of gas being released from the soil directly under a home.
Radon gas can also enter a home through its water supply. While still underground, Radon gas penetrates underground water sources. In many cases, it finds its way into residential homes through both drilled and dug wells. Once this water enters a home the gas emerges, entering the air we breathe, through exit points such as shower heads, faucets and appliances.
Is my water safe if it has Radon?
Radon gas exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US, second only to smoking. About 20,000 deaths a year in the U.S. are caused by breathing radon through indoor air.
Both State and Federal regulatory agencies have set the recommended Maximum Contamination Level for Radon in water at 4,000 pCi/L (picocuries per liter). Levels above this maximum represent an increase in the health risks associated with Radon gas.
For more in depth information on Radon you can visit the EPA’s Citizens Guide to Radon
Radon in Maine
Maine along with a great deal of the rest of the northern United States lies in what is considered a “hot spot” for the presence of Radon Gas.
The EPA map below was developed to help homeowners determine areas of elevated risk for Radon gas, and to encourage people in the highest risk areas to test for the presence of Radon (the Zone 1 “Red” areas represent the highest concentration regions).
Radon & Maine Real Estate
Maine homes that receive their household water supply from a private well (approximately 40% of homes) are not subject to the EPA regulations that protect public drinking water systems. As a result, owners of private wells are each responsible for ensuring that their water is clean and safe from all health related contaminants.
The Maine Real Estate Market, particularly Realtors and Home Inspectors, play a vital role in helping to bring awareness to homeowners about the dangers of Radon gas and in helping to insure that Radon remains a mainstream issue to examine when buying or selling a home.
For more information about specific Maine Radon guidelines for buying & selling a home, visit the State of Maine page for Radon & Home Sales
Radon | Up Close & Personal
Of the many Maine Realtors Ward Water works closely with, Kathie Hooper from RE/MAX By The Bay in Portland is a broker who not only has had a tremendous amount of experience dealing with Radon treatment for her clients over the years, but also has had a very close and personal relationship with Radon in her own home.
“When my family moved to Maine 18 years ago, we purchased a home with a well. Prior to this purchase, all of our previous homes were served by public water and we had never had occasion to test our water. Our home inspector recommended that we do a radon in water test—something that I was totally unfamiliar with at the time. Low and behold the radon in my water was over 70,000pCi/L.
Quite frankly I was not in real estate at the time and was somewhat alarmed by the reading. Fortunately, the builder we were working with at the time paid for and installed the radon mitigation system which lasted about 15 years.
A couple of years ago, Ward Water installed a new “Bubble Up” type system at my home as a replacement for our old system which died of “old age”. This new system has an added benefit of increasing the water pressure in my home—which is now as good as any public system I have ever been on. The work was done in a day and our new system works like a charm. It is also somewhat smaller than my older system and takes up less space in our utility room.
Having been a realtor for the past 16 years, serving clients in both Cumberland and York Counties, I have encountered the issue of radon in water on many occasions—as most homes in Maine rely on wells for their water.
Now I can confidently let my buyer clients know that there is a simple solution that can take care of the radon problem. I can also alert my seller clients who have not tested for water radon that they should definitely do so prior to putting their homes in the market. In fact, I normally recommend a pre-sale home inspection so that sellers are fully aware of any issues that can be mitigated prior to putting their homes on the market.
It is much better for sellers to eliminate problems before they become issues during the home inspection period and potentially cause a sale to fall through. These systems are not inexpensive but neither is paying a water bill every month—so I consider it a pretty good trade since these systems last for many years and are very effective.”
Water Safety Starts with Awareness
Proper water testing is always the first step we recommend in determining if your water is safe to drink or if it will be considered acceptable by potential home buyers.
Radon testing kits are simple and inexpensive, typically costing around $45. Feel free to contact our offices and we’ll be happy advise you on the various State certified testing facilities that offer test kits, or we can schedule a time to perform an “in-home” test for you and hand deliver the samples to the lab.
What do I do if my Water has Radon?
Although Carbon filtration is occasionally used in certain cases as a means of capturing radon gas, the most reliable and effective method for Radon water mitigation is through the use of a pressurized water ventilation system- also referred to as “bubbling systems.”
These systems have been tried and tested and have been in use in homes throughout the state for many years. They offer homeowners an extremely effective and worry-free solution for removing Radon from household water supplies.
Costs for mitigating Radon from a home’s water supply can vary pending many crucial factors, such as home layout and ventilation choices. Typical prices for Bubble Up style Radon systems will usually range between $4500 and $4900 once completely installed and properly ventilated per State code requirements.
Note: Before selecting a company to install a Radon mitigation system in your home, we recommend making certain that company is not only Licensed through the State of Maine for Radon Water Mitigation, but also has ample experience in the proper venting and installation of this type of system. Also, verify that all electrical connections will be installed by a Licensed Master Electrician, per State code requirements.
If you would like more information about Radon mitigation methods or if you simply have questions in general about your water supply, please contact our office and we’ll help you in any way we can. We’re happy to answer your questions over the phone or even offer preliminary advice so you can consider your options and possible next steps.