Chinese Drywall

Blackened_and_corroded_copper_coils_on_conditioner_unit_-_Chinese_drywall_scandalAbout Chinese Drywall in a Nutshell:

I’ve been a general contractor, since 1982 I have witnessed many changes in the construction industry in the creation of new homes and remodeling. However, the phenomenon of Chinese Drywall, I believe took us all by surprise. I’ve always said most things can be fixed within a home, and I am not an alarmist — and while this too can be fixed, it comes with a heavy price tag.

Here is the long and short of it –while we have many answers the professionals are still arguing the semantics on how-what-why it all happened.

What we know: Tainted drywall that was compromised by the “elements” OR another line of thought — it was processed in a certain way that cause the sulfur levels in the Gypsum material to produce Elemental Sulfur — when it is in excess it causes “out-gassing” of Hydrogen sulfide (Hs2).

This sulfur corrodes copper and gives off a “rotten egg” smell. It causes electrical failures and air-conditioning units can stop working in as little as six-months. Homeowners reported corrosion or blackening of metal in or on electrical fixtures, appliances, plumbing and air conditioner coils.

There is dispute among the professionals about whether or not this causes illness in humans, however chronic headaches, fatigue, respiratory illness, chronic nose bleeds,  itching and skin rashes and burning eyes have all been reported.

The obvious destruction of copper and electrical failures cannot be refuted. Fact: most of this tainted drywall was shipped from China to meet the high demand of construction, however there have been American companies that have provided tainted drywall — add that to the hot and humid weather of southwest Florida, and thus you find the problem in some not all of the homes built during 2001-2009 (number vary depending on what source your read).

To replace tainted drywall and offending drywall from a home the costly process can run anywhere from $20 – $100 per square foot.

As a Homeowner, Realtor, or Potential Home Owner here are the facts at a glance:

  1. Most tainted drywall is found in homes constructed between 2004-2008
  2. Some remodeled homes much older, remodeled during this time — were found to have tainted drywall
  3. The out-gassing of sulfur by tainted drywall can cause appliances and air-conditioning units to stop working
  4. The out-gassing of sulfur from tainted drywall (Chinese drywall or American drywall) can cause a rotten egg smell

What do we inspect:

  1. Visual inspection
  2. Inspection of visible copper and plumbing components — such as brass
  3. Visual inspection of the A/C system
  4. Visual inspection of the copper wiring at various locations throughout the home — usually by removing a sampling of electrical plug covers
  5. Observing the distinctive odor emitted by tainted drywall — and this is usually a very obvious warning sign noticed by all.
  6. Recommending further lab testing IF any indicators show more testing is needed.

Remember:  A Home Inspection can not definitively say whether or NOT there is Chinese drywall. It is a visual inspection and as such it is not within the scope of this company to identify this drywall. We can however recommend further testing. ~ Jeff Gerwitz

 Further Research:

Consumer Safety Division — Drywall

Remediation Chinese Drywall Recommendations

Report on Wikipedia About Chinese Drywall

Don’t hesitate to call me if you have any questions — see the contact page above.