Internachi certified professional inspector
(Former) Meth Labs
I once wrote a blog post which is currently my third most popular about signs of a Marijuana grow house. I mentioned briefly about so called “meth houses” that while very rare are very dangerous, so this week is a great opportunity to look at them. Like most home inspectors I have never seen one in person and hope I never will but I am always on the lookout for the signs. Given the highly illegal nature of this drug it goes without saying that there is no public database of current and former meth houses!
Methamphetamine is known as meth, ice, chalk, and other street names and is a highly addictive stimulant. It is illegal in most of the world and as a result, this is not an item that can be bought at the local corner store, hence the presence of houses where meth and other similar drugs are illegally manufactured. There are numerous negative health effects and our focus as home inspectors is not law enforcement but on identifying dangers located on properties that were formerly used as meth labs.
Is it REALLY That Dangerous?
I have heard stories of homes that were so contaminated they had to be demolished and I found that hard to believe at first. Can’t you just spend a few hours using some bleach and call it a day? Unfortunately, is usually not enough. Methamphetamine production uses a lot of dangerous chemicals that, unlike in a hospital or medical lab environment, does not use sterile environments and expensive fume hoods to keep occupants and the community safe. I won’t bore you with the list of common ingredients and how dangerous they are but let’s just say you do not want to touch or breathe in most of them! These toxic substances can leech into walls, floors, toys and furniture and can contaminate the entire property, leading to too many potential health problems to list.
Meth Causes a LOT of Waste
It is estimated that 1 pound of meth creates 5-7 pounds of waste by-products. Rarely is a meth cook careful to follow all waste disposal laws and they can be dumped throughout a property, including behind the walls and down the plumbing. Some of this waste is toxic to human health.
Signs of a Former Meth Lab
While doing environmental testing is beyond the scope of a home inspection, there are a few signs that home inspectors are trained to look for when suspecting a former drug lab. They include:
While I hope nobody ever has to deal with buying a former drug lab, with many buyers waiving home inspections or buying sight unseen over the past couple of years this remains a concern. The biggest symptom is unusual, unexplained and recurring health problems, and an environment air quality company should be contacted for further testing. Remember nobody will ever hang a sign saying “METH LAB!” and various levels of effort are made to hide homes with nefarious pasts.