Meth House Makeover
By Pete Youngs (aka Mr. Rehab)
Part of my real estate trainings of rehabbing properties is that I became an instructor for EPA lead-based paint, RRP rules and regulations as well as mold inspection classes for investors. The main point on asbestos, meth, mold, lead etc. is to clean or remediate the area while containing dust and protecting people. The best scenario is to always hire professionals for the job, however, these are the steps involved.
For properties that have tested positive for methamphetamine, care should be taken right from the start. Meth residue in a property can cause burns and rashes as well as stomach sickness and much more. Some reactions can cause serious illness or even death!
No government agency actually regulates how to handle a meth house but the EPA does have a set of guidelines called Voluntary Guidelines for Methamphetamine Laboratory Cleanup (available at EPA.gov). Be sure to check your state mandates, as well, to make sure your property meets their requirements to occupy.
As in most EPA related problems found in a structure, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), should be worn during the inspection to plan the clean up as well as during the cleanup itself. The standard is the Tyvek suit (white zip up cover) glasses, boots, gloves and a particulate mask. These are not expensive and are disposable, but they are absolutely necessary to wear. As in most of the other courses I teach, the heating and AC unit must be shut down and totally cleaned and not used until the environment has been cleaned. If not, you are just spreading the dust back inside and recontaminating the whole house. The last thing you want are toxic particles in the air. You should use blowers and negative air scrubbers to clean the air. They can be rented at most local tool rental places.
In my initial assessment of any property with a dust related problem, an air sampling machine is used to collect an air sample and then sent off to a lab that will tell you everything that is found in the air that is a contaminant. I use a Zefon Bio-Pump with an air-o-cell cannister to collect the air sample and send it to a company called Pro-Lab. You or your contractor may differ. Once the lab results come back (usually about 48 hours) then the scope of work can be planned. It is best to do one room at a time instead of the whole structure at once. At this point you should know how bad each room is affected based on the lab results – as well as how many blowers and air scrubbers, the amount of cleaning materials, trash/debris removal and the amount of PPE that you will need.
After the lab results are back would be the best time for you or your contractors to remove all affected material. Certainly, any carpet & pads are “toast” and should not be reused. Curtains or any other cloth related items should be removed as well. Most hard items can be cleaned and not have to be replaced such as countertops, sinks, cabinets etc. All hard surfaces must be cleaned with a soap and water solution and dried. Keep in mind that bleach and harsh chemicals (may) mix with some compounds left in the structure and could become toxic when mixed.
Once the material needed to be removed is gone and the hard surfaces have been cleaned you should ventilate the house for at least a whole day or more with the blowers and air scrubbers to eliminate anything the cleaning may have kicked up into the air. During the cleaning process a good quality shop vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter system should be used between all steps, changing the HEPA filter as needed. Pay close attention to cleaning anything with grooves, cracks, window panes, sills, or anyplace that dust could settle have settled and gotten overlooked.
Keep in mind that the heating and AC has been shut down and should be the last thing to be cleaned – by a professional. When cleaning any EPA type contaminant, you always start from top to bottom. Starting at the ceilings and lights all the way down to the floors and trim. Don’t forget any exhaust fans or vents. Also remember that any materials that the previous occupants used (chemicals and debris) may have been disposed of in the sinks and toilets. It’s a good idea to have your plumbing scoped and cleaned out very well.
Next, you will want to test the air again by the same method as before and send it back to the same lab for comparison with the first test. It should obviously contain much lower numbers. Check these numbers against your state’s requirement to reoccupy and if it is still elevated, retrace all your steps and redo the procedures until the numbers are much lower. Do this until you have met your state’s requirements.
Pete Youngs also known as “Mr. Rehab,” is a national speaker on rehabbing homes for up to 50% off. He does seminars and bus trips promoting his new training system called SWAT (Simple Ways And Techniques). He is contractor/investor of over 25 years. Click here to visit his website, PeteYoungs.com.