Defective Chinese Drywall - Updated 2011
"MLC Inspections has found very few definitive and truthful website sources for the issue of Chinese or Tainted Drywall...this one is fact based only resourcing FHA-CPSC and local actually resouces."
If the status quo is not enough, someone throws a wrench into the gears.
Starting in 2001 drywall was imported from the Republic of China. There is no qualify control here or there and the rock is made with high amounts of sulfides.
The hope (without confirmation) is that no such drywall has entered the U.S. since 2007.
Sulfides emit hydrogen sulfide gases which are very corrosive and toxic. When installed they can affect everything from copper wiring to air conditioning coils, essentially corroding them into powder. This gas also provides the initial indication of a problem…the smell. Somewhere between rotten eggs and burnt wiring.
Health effects are unknown completely but, as you might imagine, are suspect also. Known health effects range from running noses to asthma…so far. All testing is very preliminary.
CPSC reports the follows health issues depending on concentration and exposure time;
Once installed, there is very little to tell if the sheetrock is Chinese or not except on the back of the drywall board where "made in China" and other stamps can be seen. Other indicators do not manifest for 6 months to a year.
Chinese drywall, so far, was only produced in ½ inch sizes, this means that the garage ceiling rock is likely not going to have the stamps because it is 5/8 inches due to firewall requirements.
As this writing, this is an evolving story, the EPA/CPSC has the premier website on this issue and have taken point on this. They indicate a potential for 200,000 affected homes in the U.S.
Originally the real lead was been taken by the Florida Department of Health where the problem was first identified.
Not all drywall is tainted. At this time, no US made drywall has been tested as tainted and not all Chinese drywall is tainted.
This problem is so new that there are no certifications for inspection or remediation. There are, however, many lawsuits in process. I am already hearing about systems to remediate without material removal. Please be very wary, there are no approved systems and certainly are no tested systems.
In May of this year 2010, HUD did establish protocols for both identification and remediation. These are initial and evolving. The remediation involves removal of materials only, then replacement. The remediation efforts thus far are to take the house back to the frame stage. All gas absorbent materials and metals are removed. Remediation involves removal of:
Wiring and fixtures
Entire A/C system including ducts
Metal plumbing system components
Fire suppressions systems
Gas lines, components and appliances using gas
The first step is to achieve a THRESHOLD identification inspection. If this is positive, it is followed by sampling and laboratory testing.
Affected homes are not just new homes but also rehabilitated homes. Hurricane damaged homes are also subject to this problem. Habitat for Humanity just announced that they believe that Katrina homes, that they built in New Orleans, are affected.
CPSC says that all states are affected. Thus far the following reporting tells where the bulk has been found.
In May 2010 the manufacturer's were identified but thus far one have come forward to partially compensate one builder for the restoration of the affected homes nor have they showed up in court cases which are in progress. The companies apparently do not feel subject to U.S. laws and suits.
The Texas Professional Real Estate Inspectors Association has been following this issue closely. As of this writing, Threshold Inspections have confirmed 9 such homes in all parts of the greater Houston area and the 9 counties surrounding. The direction certainly points to more affected homes.
While Texas only reports 12 homes involved, you should remember that reporting also involves reporter liability and devaluation of the confirmed properties. My sense is that reporting is going to lag way behind actual identification.
If you believe that you might have an issue with Chinese Drywall, the first step is the Threshold inspection. If this proves to be positive, I can guide you to the next step which is laboratory testing thru sampling.
You are most welcome to call and discuss your suspicions and how to proceed.
Whether you use MLC or another inspector, please remember that not all inspectors know of or understand the identification protocols.
The introduction of Chinese sheetrock into the United States came about as a result of the need for drywall in many states affected by storm damage and the growth of the new housing market in the boom years of 2004 - 2007. The inability of Mexico and Canada to keep pace with the need for drywall in the US led some leading suppliers to look to China to fill the shortfall.
Unfortunately, drywall from China is not made from traditional gypsum but from fly ash, a waste product from coal-fired plants introduced into the air through chimneys. These toxic sulfur compounds when made into drywall emit corrosive agents with potential health risks.
It is believed that almost 60% of Chinese drywall has been installed in homes built in Florida. Most of the remaining installations have been in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia, Wisconsin, California, Ohio, Arizona, Washington, Wyoming, Tennessee and Washington DC. There have been complaints about the installation of Chinese drywall in Texas, North and South Carolina, New Jersey, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.
Since 2006, and estimated 550 million pounds of Chinese drywall has been exported to the United States. Sulfurous acids in the form of gases, smelling like rotten eggs, are emitted when Chinese drywall comes into contact with moisture, heat and humidity. The toxic sulfur compounds can cause extensive damage by corroding copper wiring, air conditioners and other electrical appliances. Exposure to the sulfur-based gases can cause adverse health conditions such as eye irritation, headaches, bloody nose, respiratory problems and other conditions similar to bronchitis and asthma.
So during your inspections be on the lookout for:
1) A smell or odor similar to rotten eggs? It is important to pay attention to what you smell the moment you enter the inspection site.
2) The corrosion of copper, so check the copper in electrical outlets, AC and refrigerator coils for black corrosion. If the copper is black, then Chinese sheetrock is likely present.
3) The words China, Knceuf or Tainjin on the back of un-insulated sheetrock walls. Kncuef and Tainjin are manufacturers of Chinese sheetrock. Use a borescope to check the back of the sheetrock and if your borescope has a camera screen, you can photograph the screen for verification if any of the identifying words are found. Your suspicions can be verified by laboratory testing for sulfides.
by: Linda Lauver
AQ Testing Services, LLC