When a property owner first discovers that their home contains methamphetamine contamination they often become distressed, confused, and even angry. Many are puzzled by how the property became contaminated in the first place. Low levels of meth residue can accumulate from someone smoking/inhaling meth over a short period of time which may include visitors or guests, a contractor doing work in your home, or even someone breaking into the property. Also, methamphetamine residue does not dissipate quickly; a property that was busted as a meth lab ten or even fifteen years ago could still test positive. However, the property became contaminated it is now a priority to have the meth cleaned up and create a healthy living environment again.
Meth clean up or decontamination process involves several steps which can vary with each property depending upon the circumstances. These circumstances include:
1) The size of the property/square footage,
2) The amount of belongings/debris inside the property,
3) The cleanliness of the property,
4) The amount of porous material to be disposed of,
5) The number of furnaces,
6) The level or amount of residue found during pre-testing,
7) The property location, and
8) The number of post tests required.
First, the property size is important because all the surfaces need to be scrubbed and rinsed multiple times including walls, ceilings, floors, cabinets, countertops, etc. Sometimes property information sites such as Zillow and Trulia only list the square footage above ground leaving out the basement, but the entire square footage including all floors and basement is required to calculate the cost of meth clean up.
Second, the amount of belongings or debris inside the property. Sometimes a property is sold as is with the previous owners debris remaining or a drug bust has landed tenants in jail, leaving the landlord with a house full of personal property. In Utah, these items are generally disposed of as special waste by the certified meth decontamination specialist hired for the job (make sure to check your personal property laws for your state and local government before removing belongings). This can add significant cost to the job. Some non-porous items can be decontaminated however, you will want to evaluate the cost of decontamination and testing versus replacement depending on the value of the item.
*Example of type of belongings or debris left in property that require removal and disposal prior to meth decontamination
Third, the cleanliness of the property can vary the cost of meth decontamination. Many layers of dirt and grease can create a bio-film that resists soaps and cleaners. Fortunately, we have the ability to utilize new products which help breakdown the bio-film with a non-corrosive, environmentally friendly cleaning solution.
Fourth, according to EPA guidelines and a requirement of regulations established in Utah all the porous materials must be disposed of as special waste. This includes all carpet, carpet pad, draperies, many window coverings, unfinished wood, insulated or accordion ducts, and most acoustical ceiling tiles. It may also include additional items i.e. upholstered furniture, fabric style wallpaper, mattresses, etc. The amount of the items to be disposed of can affect the price for meth remediation.
Fifth, the number of gas forced air furnaces can influence costs of remediation. If the property has two furnaces that also means there are an increased number of duct runs that require meth remediation. Yes, the furnace and non-porous duct work can be decontaminated. Consequently, if the property does not have a gas forced air furnace this also affects the price since that part of the meth clean up would not be required.
Sixth, the analytical methamphetamine residue tests need to be evaluated by the contractor. A property that tests a 2.0ug/100cm will have a slightly different meth remediation process then a property that tests a 200.0ug/100cm. Though the process and steps remain essentially the same, the 200ug property will have a significant increase in the amount of time spent on each step therefore increasing the price of the bid.
Seventh, the property location is important as state, county, and even city regulations and permits vary. These cost changes are not generally significant but it is important that your contractor is obtaining the correct permits and licensing as well as following the areas regulations so that the property is compliant upon completion.
Lastly, the number of post tests or clearance sampling varies greatly. In California, we are required to complete a three point composite sample in each room or designated space. This includes bedrooms, bathrooms, living room, family room, kitchen, laundry, office, den, game room, etc. A three point composite sample is also required for the furnace/HVAC system and each appliance remaining needs to be sampled however, no more than three appliances per sample. Also, at least one control sample or lab blank is required to test the contractors sampling supplies and the analytical lab testing equipment. Therefore, a four bedroom, two bathroom home could easily generate twelve to fifteen post tests. If those tests need to be rushed due to a looming closing date or other factor additional lab fees will be added.
Methamphetamine residue sampling tubes sealed for chain of custody
Some of these factors or information can be gathered through a phone call or email and a ballpark figure for meth clean up can be assessed however, to give a definitive number for meth decontamination a site visit is required and evaluation of the analytical test results is helpful. On site assessments are also a great time to ask questions concerning the length of the decontamination process, the steps for clean up, financing options, and what you can expect once the remediation is complete.