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All About Chinese Drywall Inspections

By February 26, 2021Chinese Drywall
Chinese drywall inspections

In 2005, Florida saw the most active hurricane season along with a housing boom.  This made for a short supply of building materials,  so 250,000 tons of building materials were shipped over from China. 

Over the next few years, people noticed corrosion of precious metals and even mirrors in their homes, along with respiratory issues.  It turns out that it was the Chinese drywall causing the issues.  This drywall has higher concentrations of elemental sulfur (orthorhombic sulfur) than non-defective drywall. 

Think you might have this in your home?  You may want a Chinese drywall inspection.  Let’s take a look at why this is important, effects from the Chinese drywall, hiring a professional, what’s next, government requirements and lawsuits, and when to contact a professional.

Why This is Important

Chinese companies use “fly ash” a coal residue found in smokestacks in coal-fired power plants in their manufacturing process of drywall.  It is a strontium sulfide and also used in fireworks. 

When it is in a warm and humid environment, it gives off a sulfur smell and contaminates a homes air supply.  This drywall has been found in the south and in Florida, especially in homes built between 2004 and 2007 and possibly in 100,000 homes.

Effects from the Chinese drywall

Effects From the Chinese Drywall

Even though it is not life-threatening, people who have this in their home are suffering from health ailments. These are: sore throat, sinus irritation, coughing, wheezing, headache, dry or burning eyes, and/or respiratory infections.

Another effect of the Chinese drywall is the deterioration of appliances and the HVAC. The wires will corrode faster due to the Chinese drywall fumes in the air. Ultimately, selling your home will be difficult unless you replace it.

Hiring a professional for a Chinese drywall inspection

Hiring a Professional for a Chinese Drywall Inspection

There are no specific certifications for home inspectors or others to be experienced in Chinese drywall inspections.  However, InterNACHI, International Association of Certified Home Inspectors teaches its members to look for the following in a home:

1. Strong Sulfur Smell-like Rotten Eggs

Now, this could be many things such as issues in your bathroom with a drain.  For example, the P trap is dirty or missing or there is biofilm in the bathroom or even leaky pipes. If it is leaky pipes, you will want to have a sewer scope inspection done to see where the issue is.

2. Copper wiring

Exposed copper wiring that is dark and corroded is another sign. Corroded copper wiring will affect the use of appliances in the home.  Hopefully while looking for the wire you don’t see Aluminum wiring. You should only find aluminum wiring if your home was built between 1965-1973.

You will want to also look at your silver jewelry and silverware.  Has it become corroded in a short span of a few months?  If yes, you may have Chinese drywall and need an inspection.

3. Drywall says “Made in China.” 

One way to find if the drywall is Chinese drywall is to go into the attic and remove some of the insulation.  This will then give you exposure to the drywall.  An inspector should be able to check to see if it says “Made in China” anywhere on the drywall. 

Chinese drywall inspections should be done by inspectors as they are trained in the materials in a home and an attic.  Maybe while you are in the attic, if it feels very warm or even hot, think about installing an attic fan or vents on the roof to cool the home in summer and hot months. 

4. Drywall Samples Tested

Samples of the drywall can be sent to a lab for testing to be sure.  Unfortunately, this is the most expensive way.

Ask a home inspector if they are knowledgeable about Chinese drywall. If not, move on to another company. Beware of the “fly by night” inspectors who don’t know what they are talking about. You may be taken for a lot of money.

Here is a video of Chinese drywall in a home in Florida.

What’s Next After You Find Out There is Chinese Drywall

Repairing Chinese drywall is not an option.  Unfortunately, there are only three choices:

  1. Suffer from the health effects– find out from a doctor what you can take to manage the symptoms
  2. Move out of the home– it may be difficult to sell as it will come up in a home inspection that you have the Chinese drywall
  3. Have the drywall replaced in the home– Replacing the drywall in the home will vary in price. It will be about $1500-2000 for a 1,000 square foot house.
Government requirements and lawsuits

Government Requirements and Lawsuits

Unfortunately, there are no government requirements to fix the Chinese drywall.  However, there are many class-action lawsuits filed against home builders, suppliers, and importers of the contaminated Chinese drywall.

The Florida Department of Health sampled drywall from China and drywall from the U.S. In their findings, there was a significant difference between the U.S. sample and the Chinese sample, the U.S. sample did not have any traces of the strontium sulfide while the Chinese sample did.

When to Call a Professional

It is advisable for a professional home inspector who knows about Chinese drywall inspections to come to your home and inspect it and give you recommendations.  Also, if you want more information about the class-action lawsuit click here.

Conclusion

Chinese drywall was imported in the housing boom and after the year of many hurricanes in the early 2000’s. The U.S. ran out of the building materials and had to get it from overseas.  Unfortunately, the builders did not know they were getting drywall that had high sulfur content and built homes with it. 

With the class action lawsuits, they are finding that homes across the country have the Chinese drywall and it is expensive to replace.  If you are experiencing the issues in your home as described earlier in this article, reach out to us at Atkinson so we can help.

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