Methamphetamine Inspections

Tri-State Home Inspections provides inspections and testing for methamphetamine.

  • Meth can only be found with lab samples to be sure the home is free of meth residue

What is “meth”? It stands for methamphetamine, also known as, “speed,” “crank,” “crystal” and “ice.” There are many different recipes for “cooking” meth. All the methods of manufacturing methamphetamine involve dangerous chemicals and reagents/substances that are considered harmful to humans. The residues that remain after the cooking process can remain on surfaces for months or years after the cooking is over. Even though the chemicals used can be obtained at the local hardware store, they can create serious problems for the innocent victim.

Property Contamination

Why should this matter to a home buyer, owner or landlord? It is simple: during the meth manufacturing process, chemical compounds become airborne (volatilized) and settle out, depositing onto walls, ceilings, appliances, floors, carpets and other typical household items throughout the structure’s interior. Additionally, the chemicals used to make the illegal drugs may be spilled during handling. Not only are the production chemicals hazardous, meth use can also contaminate a property. The manufacture of this drug has caused billions of dollars in property damage and most importantly, has become a major health hazard. In almost all cases the residue contamination left behind after a cook can pose serious health risks.

Contamination from smoking or making meth can leave behind enough methamphetamine on surfaces and in ventilation system that people and pets can suffer from health problems similar to a chronic meth user. Some experts claim that smoking meth once in a room could leave behind enough residue to cause adverse effects.

Smoking and making meth can threaten everyone who happens onto the site. This includes the children, one-year-old babies are most vulnerable, who live in or visit in the future. Meth residue does wear off over time as contact with people and pets and cleaning rubs it away, but enough residue for observable adverse effects has been found in motels years after someone was caught making in the room.

Meth Inspection Service

Meth inspections include both a visual inspection and methamphetamine residue sampling. The report will include the following:

  •    Property description, including physical address, legal description, layout of the property, structural features, etc.
  •    Photographic documentation of site.
  •    Hazardous chemical use or storage areas, waste disposal areas, cooking areas, chemical stains, fire damage, and other observable damage.
  •   Information about surfaces, furnishings, and appliances.
  •    Inspection of HVAC system. Vents, ductwork, filters, walls and ceilings near ventilation ducts frequently become contaminated.
    • Contamination levels in HVAC systems are often 25 times higher than the household average.
  •    Inspection of garages, barns and other outbuildings.
  •    Inspection of plumbing, septic, and sewer systems. Most liquid chemical byproducts are dumped into bathtubs, sinks, drains, and toilets.
    • These chemicals can collect in drains, traps and septic tanks. Plumbing fixtures that are visibly contaminated beyond normal household wear and tear should be noted (chemical etching, chemical staining or chemical odors present).
  •    Identification of adjacent areas/units in multiple dwellings that may require cleaning.
  •    Outdoor inspection for evidence of burn or trash pits, discolored soil or dead vegetation, indicating possible contamination of water and/or soil.
  •    Surface samples taken and sent to an EPA accredited lab

Mold Inspection

Did you know that almost every indoor environment has mold at low levels?  It’s true! But when there is visible mold in a home or the number of airborne mold spores is higher than normal, a mold problem exists.

When should a mold inspection and mold testing be considered?

  • When visible mold is not present, but the smell of mold is present. Here a mold inspection and mold test can reveal whether there is indeed elevated mold, and where it is located.
  • There have been plumbing leaks or water issues and there is a suspicion that elevated mold may exist in the air and/or behind walls.
  • Post Mold Removal Clearance Testing to ensure that the previous mold issues has been resolved and mold counts have returned to levels found in normal environments of the same type.
  • Health Concerns: In some cases a doctor or the patient has a health issue that they cannot pinpoint the cause but seems to be related to mold symptoms (coughing, sneezing, headaches, etc). Here, a mold inspection and test may help to confirm whether the doctor’s or patient’s suspicions that a mold problem exists.
  • For real estate transactions for the protection of Buyers and Sellers.
  • Landlord/Tenant disputes as to whether there is a mold problem.
  • Someone thinks they see or smell mold but are not sure.
  • Someone is interested in a general Indoor Air Quality test of their environment.

I am going to tell you something right away about mold inspections and mold testing that other company’s don’t want you to know. If you already see visible mold, you usually do NOT need a mold inspection or mold testing. If you already see visible mold, you simply need to remove it following industry standard guidelines. 

If you already see visible mold? Don’t you need to know, for example, what kind of mold it is so you can determine whether its toxic? In fact, in most cases, the surprising answer here is “no.” For starters, so called “Black Mold” is a term that is badly misused and misunderstood. Once you already see visible mold, knowing what type it is, for example, is usually irrelevant because at this point, you or a Mold Professional simply need to get rid of the mold following proper Mold Remediation and Mold Removal Principles. 

If a mold inspection and mold testing is necessary, there are three basic steps Tri-State Home Inspections LLC takes with every mold inspection.

Step 1: Conduct a inspection of property

This includes:

  • Environmental Assessment
  • Visual Inspection
  • Thermal imaging of home
  • Air Quality Analysis or Direct Sample Test

Mold inspections involve carefully inspecting your home for signs of water intrusion and mold growth. This process usually take about 1 hour to perform. Tri-State Home Inspections LLC will also perform an air quality and/or direct sample test to help identify the magnitude of the problem.

Step 2: The samples are sent to a laboratory

That test will be shipped to an accredited 3rd party lab for analysis. Tri-State Home Inspections LLC will contact you within a couple of days and provide a copy of the 3rd party lab results and a written report. This written report will explain the lab results and our findings in plain, easy-to-understand English.  It will also include a plan for mold remediation and fixing the mold problem if one is identified from the mold inspection results.

Step 3: Follow Up

If a mold problem is located Tri-State Home Inspections LLC will be avaialable to perform follow up testing to confirm the mold has been removed and the problem repaired.

  • The sample fee is $75 per air sample or direct sample

Why Over-The-Counter Home Mold Tests Kits Are A Ripoff:

  • Mold samples are often misleading or simply wrong (i.e. due to error). You need a professional to interpret the results.
  • Home Mold Test Kits don’t include a visual inspection conducted by a mold professional … very important! A professional mold inspection includes not only sampling but also a comprehensive visual inspection to detect issues and problems related to mold that are not apparent to most people without training in building sciences and mold inspections.
  • Mold is everywhere. Yes, all homes have small amounts of mold. Therefore, when a petri dish from a home mold test tells you that you have mold, it is not telling you anything useful since every home has mold!
  • If you suspect a mold problem but do not actually see it or smell it, these test kits do not help you locate the problem or tell you how serious it is.
  • Don’t take my word for it. Here is what the U.S. Government EPA says, verbatim: “Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods, and interpreting results. Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other professional organizations.”

Remember this simple rule: If you can already see mold, you need to remove it. Testing is usually unnecessary at this point.

Forced Air Gas Furnaces

Forces air gas furnace is a central heating system used to heat a home or building. All furnaces work on the same basic principles and have similar parts:

  • Thermostat
  • Pilot light or electric igniter
  • Gas valve
  • Burners
  • Heat exchanger
  • Fan
  • Exhaust

The pilot light ignites a series of burners inside the combustion chamber that then enters the heat exchanger, where the heat transfers to the air in the home with the use of a fan to heat the home to the set point of the thermostat.

HtExchgr_dwg2

There are 3 types of forced gas furnaces I come across inspecting homes:

  • Low efficiency furnace 78% or less
  • Mid efficiency furnace 80% – 89%
  • High efficiency furnace 90%-98% (Condensing)

When looking at the efficiency it is easy to understand if you think in these terms:

  • In an 80% efficient furnace 20% of the heat is loss in the combustion and goes out the chimney.

Low and Mid efficient furnaces have one heat exchanger usually 1 gas valve setting, and standard fan adjusted to one speed for heat, cool or just fan. They require a chimney to vent the flue gases to the exterior of the home, with temperatures of up to 300-350 degrees.

INTERNAL DRAFT DIVERTER

High efficiency condensing furnaces will have two heat exchangers, the standard heat exchanger as well as a second heat exchanger the flue gases are run though to extract as much heat from the system as possible. This process does cause condensation that is why they are called condensing furnaces. Because of the secondary heat exchanger these furnaces use PVC exhaust pipes with a temperature of about 100 degrees.

CONDENSATION IN HIGH EFFICIENCY FURNACES_pers

High efficient furnaces also come with several options to choose from to make the furnace even more efficient:

2-Statge gas valve

  • 2 – stage furnace will operate in its low-fire stage during periods of mild weather (pushing less air through the ducts and less combustion gas through the flue), and automatically ramp up to its second high-fire stage during extremely colder weather.
  • This will cause the home to experience fewer and much less severe temperature swings in the home, which will result in greater over-all comfort for you and energy savings.

Variable Speed Motor (ECM) – This is the blower motor in the furnace, unlike the traditional motor is saves you money and adds to the comfort of your home:

  • The motor converts AC current into DC current which is cheaper to run
  • When starting it will ramp up to speed and ramp down to prevent a large use of power at the start
  • When sit to fan mode it will operate the fan at 1/8th the cost of the traditional fan.
  • With the fan running the air is constantly circulating preventing cool or hot areas and giving the home a consistent temperature throughout the home

With a high efficient furnace, I recommend to not turn the thermostat below 60 degrees because of the following possible results:

  • With return air that cold, flue gas will condense in the primary heat exchanger causing rust & corrosion.
  • Newer, more efficient heat exchangers are, by necessity, thinner than they used to be, and if you set the thermostat too low in heating mode, the increased temperature differential between the returned air and the heated air increases the effect of the cool/hot contraction/expansion cycle of the metal in the heat exchanger, which significantly shortens its life

In the event that the furnace is not operating here are a couple recommendations to check before calling an HVAC specialist.

  • Turn off the main switch to reset the control board, remove the air filter and turn back on. If the furnace starts most likely a dirty air filter, install a clean filter. If this does not work check the exterior of the vent pipe for a blockage, if blockage is found turn off main switch then turn back on to reset control board and see if it runs normally.
  • If neither of these works. Call a licensed and insured HVAC contractor for further evaluation and repair or replace as warranted.