Selling your home in Iowa: What you need to know about radon

If you’re selling your home, radon is probably the last thing on your mind.

Radon isn’t something you can see or even smell. But it has been shown to cause serious health issues. An estimated 7 in 10 homes in Iowa test above the EPA’s recommended level of radon.1

What you need to know about radon

Iowa and Radon

As a home seller, you are not required to test your home for radon before you sell it. But, by law, you are required to disclose any known information about radon levels in your home.

If you have ever had your home tested for radon, you’re obligated to provide the date and results of the test on the State of Iowa Seller Property Condition Disclosure form. If you have never had a radon test, you would simply check the “NO” box on the disclosure form. See below.

iowa radon disclosure

[From the State of Iowa Seller Property Condition Disclosure]

If you tested for radon and know your home is above the recommended safe level, you must disclose the results. But you are not mandated by law to take steps to lower the level of radon.

That said, if you haven’t already taken action to lower the level of radon and you want to sell your home, potential buyers could walk away because of the high radon levels. Others might make an offer with the stipulation that you install a radon mitigation system in your home before closing.

When in doubt, ask your real estate agent for advice on how to handle radon testing and/or reducing levels in your home (referred to as radon mitigation).

Why is radon such a big deal?

Iowa is prone to high levels of radon from the composition of our soil. Research has shown that radon can cause serious health issues, including cancer, making it a public health concern.

What is radon?

It’s a colorless, odorless, invisible, radioactive gas that can cause illness (from inhalation).

Where does it come from?

The soil. It comes from a breakdown of uranium brought to Iowa by glaciers.

Where is it found?

New and old homes. Homes with or without basements. Any home can have radon. It varies widely between homes, no matter the location. Just because your neighbor’s home has elevated levels of radon, doesn’t mean yours does.

Radon seeps into homes from the soil under and around the home, through cracks and gaps in the foundation, walls, drains, pipes, sump pumps and crawl spaces.

What level is considered unsafe?

4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) is considered safe. An estimated 5 in 7 homes in Iowa have elevated levels of radon.1

Why is radon considered unsafe?

Research has shown radon as the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

“U.S. SURGEON GENERAL HEALTH ADVISORY “Indoor radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and breathing it over prolonged periods can present a significant health risk to families all over the country. It’s important to know that this threat is completely preventable. Radon can be detected with a simple test and fixed through well-established venting techniques.” January 2005”. 2

How do you know if your home (or a home you are purchasing) has elevated levels of radon?

EPA approved home testing kits are available. You can also hire a licensed radon measurement specialist to perform a test. (Your real estate agent can help you find a specialist.)

How is testing done?

Tests are placed in the basement or lowest area of the home. All windows and exterior doors should remain closed for several hours before testing and should remain closed as much as possible during testing. Tests run from 3-7 days, depending on the test.

How do you lower radon levels?

Typically, radon mitigation systems are installed by professionals. Also, you can caulk and/or seal cracks in the foundation and walls, as well as fill any gaps around pipes, lines, sump pumps, or anywhere radon could seep into the home.

More information on radon

Iowa Radon Homebuyers and Sellers Fact Sheet

Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon (EPA)

Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction: How to fix your home (EPA)

Whether you’re selling or buying a home, the process can feel intimidating and overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to. At Coluzzi Real Estate, we answer all your questions and simplify the process. We’re there for you every step of the way. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today!

This article is for informative purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Local, state and federal laws are subject to change. If you have questions or concerns about radon laws, we advise speaking with a lawyer and/or your real estate agent, as well as researching the latest laws.

1 Iowa Radon Homebuyers and Sellers Fact Sheet
2 Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon (EPA)



About the Author:

Amanda has lived in the Des Moines area since 1999, where she and her husband have bought and sold a handful of homes over the years, including a recent flip. Amanda enjoys writing, obsesses about personal finance and is fond of looking at houses. She loves sharing useful tips and info to make life easier for anyone wanting to buy or sell a home. In her spare time, Amanda cherishes time with her family, volunteers with IHYC, gardens, hikes, and practices TaeKwonDo. You can read more of her writing at whywemoney.com