Types of Damage Caused by Grow Houses
- Marijuana grow houses found in residential areas often use electrical bypasses to circumvent utility meters and to steal electricity. A bypass usually requires a large hole drilled through the concrete foundation or walls to tap into the underground, outside hydro lines.
- High levels of humidity can cause wood to eventually warp, including staircases, handrails, floor finishes, roof joists and wood studs in walls. The structural integrity of these components may be compromised.
- Floor joists, roof supports and wall studs are sometimes cut to accommodate the extensive ventilation systems required by these operations or to accommodate the creation of booby traps designed to foil police. These traps are dismantled, but the structural damage may still remain.
- Sometimes, false walls or improperly installed load bearing walls can cause structural damage.
- High levels of condensation caused by excessive heat and moisture and improper ventilation can cause wood frames around windows and doors to rot.
Electrical / Fire Damage
- Hydroponic labs require three to ten times the power of an average home. Although the house's main electrical panel is bypassed, the main system can be damaged by surges or other difficulties associated with the illegal bypass.
- Fire hazards, such as exposed live wires and overheated electrical ballasts, are often found in the homes.
- Prolonged periods of high humidity have been known to cause moulds to develop in a house, including the inside walls, drywall and insulation. Marijuana plants produce pollen that escapes into the air. Respiratory conditions and allergies can be triggered by certain kinds of pollen and mould. Children and those with respiratory ailments are particularly susceptible.
- Pesticides, fungicides, hydrogen peroxide and fertilizers are mixed together and applied to the plants to increase yields and protect plants from insects. Improper ventilation, intense humidity levels and even structural considerations, such as carpets, can prevent these chemicals from escaping.
The Ottawa Police Service can offer no particular information about hazards or dangers related to specific addresses.
Locations in which Grow Ops were present and have been identified and dismantled by the Ottawa Police Drug Unit, may still pose a risk to the general public and in particular to the new owners or new tenants of residences even after they have been dismantled, because criminal groups are actively involved in the theft of illicit drugs from other criminal groups.
These thefts are known as "rips" and they are sometimes accompanied with a violent element. The offenders do not always keep current information on grow ops operators and when they involve themselves in these "rips", they are sometimes surprised or confronted by innocent persons who are the new owners or tenants of the residence. If you are involved in such an occurrence, you are asked to call 911 immediately.