Meth House Hazards and Remediation Course

I do not work in areas that have a lot of meth labs, but maybe in the future I will be expanding into those areas. This is a great course that helps us become more aware of the signs of a possible meth lab. I will now be able to go into more situations with my awareness level higher.

These photos were taken inside a manufactured home that I inspected in late September 2015. The drains were permanently sealed in the tub and shower. The walls were stained with red stains and the home had a strong ammonia smell, much different than pet urine.
I made the client well aware of the suspicions of this property and documented it in the report.

Best regards,
Jim Schwarz
Center Grove Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Recycled Picture-(2).jpg

Recycled Picture-(1).jpg

Ben - while I was not conducting an inspection that might see if a house was used as a meth-producing lab, this under sink area is now interesting to me.

The floor and back side of this cabinet had been replaced with luan wood. And after the replacement more than one leak can be detected.

While it is unlikely that this was the only place used for meth production, or the house in general, having taken this course piques my interest and I will look at things with a different eye.

Thanks again for the course!


1st of 2 posts regarding this Meth course.

Here are images of a house found to have meth smoking (not manufacture).

The type & number of items that can be used to smoke meth are numerous but there are consistent traits to look for .

While paraphenalia may be in a particular room of the structure some may be found while doing the exterior walk around the premises.

Next post will be about Meth in Montana

Bob Ruby II
President of Missoula & Five Valleys InterNACHI Chapter


#2 article for Meth course:

This is a link to the comprehensive list by county of all known Meth labs in the state.

In Montana, the property comes off this list when the re mediation is considered successful and sample reach the accepted levels (<.1 micrograms per centimetre squared)

in Missoula there are 8 locations on the list. Again, this only means they haven’t been corrected. Most of the locations listed were multifamily and trailers, structures that I imagine a landlord/owner wouldn’t pay the necessary amount to re mediate fully.

Since one of our members was mentioned as having missed evidence of a meth house during an inspection I was really interested in this course. As a result of having taken the course I can now more fully support our inspector’s lack of finding any meth evidence.

I’ll be certain to quote that the InterNACHI S.O.P. specifically says we are not supposed to find or test any evidence of meth during an inspection. Further, due to the course I was encouraged to find out state’s law/regulations regarding meth detection listing etc. which states the seller has to identify the property if it is on the list of meth labs and they do not if it has been properly cleaned.

Thanks once again, InterNACHI as being the best reference for us.

Bob Ruby II
President, Missoula & Five Valleys InterNACHI chapter

I was inspired by the series “breaking bad” on taking this course. Thought it was a good course well worth taking. Haven’t seen any evidence yet of a former meth lab in this area.

found this course to be very interesting, now anytime I am inspecting a home that I suspect could be meth house I will be able to call athoritys.

In response to the criteria for course completion this is my story. I’m the Building Inspector for a small Village in southeastern Ohio that has a problem with Meth Labs. It’s a poor community and jobs are hard to come by. Meth is cheap to make, and materials to make it are easy to find. The Village received a call on a 8 bottle shake and bake lab right here in town. After the gross contamination clean up by the Police Meth Squad I did a walk through. The materials for making meth were on the porch and children’s toys were tossed about. Knowing the amount of contamination 8 shake and bake labs can produce I figured I could condemn the trailer. I was wrong… I had no law or ordinance that would allow me to do it. Without any remediation the courts let the individual loose the next day and he went right back to living in the trailer. Later he moved and the trailer was dismantled by the owner just because he didn’t want the responsibility of letting another family move in. I was lucky and was glad to write him a demo permit. After this course I now know in no way was the trailer even able to be cleaned.

We took a look at what was suspected to be a former cook house–but it was just rumor. Nobody actually witnessed any of the normal sings (or signs in the course) that this home was used for cooking meth or occupied by meth users.

The only indication is that the (kinda snarky, paranoid) property manager thought the person who used to occupy it was a ‘meth-head’ because they wore ‘goth’ clothes and worked at a dive bar as a bartender… and ‘smoked like a chimney’.

His ‘evidence’ was the perceived iodine stains on the wall on the back patio (which was screened-in).

He was pretty sure about it, so he invited a couple of us to check. I sprayed it with spray-starch and nothing happened. No blue; nothing but sticky nicotine stains mixed with spray starch. Anyway… it was the closest I’ve been to seeing a real meth house–unless you count watching Breaking Bad–then that was closer.

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 4.11.28 AM.png

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 4.11.28 AM.png

For the reading and writing assignment, I decided to read Meth Labs
by Nick Gromicko as well as Plants and Indoor Air Quality
by Nick Gromicko and Kate Tarasenko.

Starting with Meth labs, the only thing I found to be interesting (same with the course) was that it is not expected–and nor does it seem to matter if we (as inspectors) report the labs to law enforcement.

Kinda wild–but I understand there isn’t a while lot they can do after-the-fact.

On the second article (plans + Indoor Air Quality)… I found it very interesting that plants can clean indoor air. I wonder if they can also (possibly) show problems with air quality (like the canary in the mine). I might have to use plants (phytoremediation) during any meth remediation for both clean up and signs of trouble :slight_smile:

inspection & writing assignment:

mock-up photo created for assignment’s inspection scenario.

If I were doing a home inspection and stumbled upon a table full of this sort of paraphernalia it would indicate to me a high chance of the home being used as a meth lab.

in this photo are a number of items which are commonly used in meth labs; such as a number of pills, prescription bottle of pills, paint thinner, lighter fluid, torch, methyl hydrate, etc.

this scene would be abnormal in nature and I would immediately stop my inspection, leave the building and phone the authorities.

meth labs present many dangers to occupants to the building, both present and future. the chemicals are highly volatile and can be explosive if in contact with some chemicals, including some cleaning products such as javex. in some cases, meth labs are ‘booby-trapped’ and it would be inadvisable to continue an inspection due to the risks involved.

after a meth lab is removed, remediation can be extremely costly and could be in the 10’s of thousands of dollars. for example: if a cooking lab was in the living room; the carpet, underlay, furniture, curtains, and even the ceiling and wall gyproc may have to be removed to the bare studs.

reading & writing assignment: I read the articles on ‘meth labs’ & ‘window bars’

window bars are designed to either keep people in or out of a building. if the home you are inspecting is the only one in the neighbourhood with window bars it may raise an caution flag: ‘why is this the only house with window bars?’

window bars could indicate that an area is unsafe, or it could be that the homeowner is paranoid. one thing is for sure though, they can decrease the value of the property for the next homeowner who may not want bars.

as far as the inspection goes; window bars are perfectly fine and are not a concern as long as the occupants can safely and easily open them to exit in case of an emergency. egress windows must have quick-release catches on window bars.

even if the bars had quick-release devices so as to open quickly from the inside, I would note in the inspection whether they were easily opened from the outside as well. emergency response personnel should not be impeded by anything in efforts to rescue occupants of a building.

Climbing Plants
It can be tempting to grow trees and tall shrubs up close to your house, but the is usually a bad idea. Tree roots can damage foundations and sewage lines, and both trees and shrubs will block the sunlight coming into your house. Consider growing a climbing plant instead. Climbing plants like honeysuckle, morning glory and black-eyed Susan will decorate the side of your house with an attractive, living layer while letting you get lots of light.

One of the areas that may be contaminated are the components located within tankless hot water heaters. While some of the newer gas water heaters draw their combustion air from the exterior, some of the older models, such as this Richmond tankless heater, draws its combustion air from the interior of the home. While there is commonly a filter in place, the computer board and various components within the appliance itself can be contaminated as well as the inside of the stainless B-vent. Therefore, is important that you are able to determine the difference between sealed combustion and natural aspirating tankless hot water heaters.

Attached Photo shows the Front elevation of a Suspected Meth Lab in Hollywood FL ,
Inspection due next week to confirm

This course refreshed my knowledge on a lot of meth signs. The process to remove contaminated items is interesting to me. I have never really read anything on it. Meth testing procedures and remediation standards don’t seem to be very agreed upon between states and agencies. Was a good refresher class on the signs to look out for to let my clients know that the home could pose a risk.

I have to say, the Meth training was quite extensive. It reminds me of my Hazmat days.

For my articles, I chose “Anti-Scald Valves”;

I haven’t had much experience with anti-scald valves, but I can see their usefulness. They help reduce water temperature fluctuations, reducing the chance of scalding someone. It’s a rather simple valve that incorporates both the hot and cold lines and can be installed at each fixture or at the hot water heater.

My second article was “Barn Inspections”

I do live in a rural area and having farm experience, I have seen many of the hazards over the years. Many farmers are DIYers and make due with what they have available. Sometimes that may not be the best fix for solution, which presents the hazards. Such as electric, animals and machinery, manure, hay, exterior vegetation, etc. The other issue I didn’t quite think of was the intended use of the next owner. Would the new owner use the barn in the same manner as the current owner? And the issues that could crop up with alternative utilization.

Heating ducts of old 50+ year old furnace in cellar type crawlspace appeared to be wrapped in asbestos type material and should not be disturbed. Testing is the only way to confirm if asbestos is present. The furnace is very old and in need of replacing in the very near future - recommend having asbestos type wrap tested/removed at that time. Water heater TPR valve extension is missing, must terminate within 6" from floor/safety hazard.

This image shows three common household items. These items can be used in the production of “methamphetamine”. If present in higher quantities, the presence of these and other items may be an indication of the production of “meth”.

After taking this course, I was amazed at the damage a lab can cause. I live in a rural area and have been told what to look for but have yet to run into any labs. I have had run-ins with meth heads in the past, generally at Wal-Mart (go figure) but that is the extent of my exposure. I have no relevant photo to add to the requirement, hopefully I never will have one to add.

For the reading and writing assignment, I continued with the meth lab theme. I was glad to see that the article was in direct correlation to the meth lab course. I am still dumbfounded that people get tied up with drugs. I actually felt dirty after everything I read and watched the videos.