China-And-Rotten-Eggs-2

What do rotten eggs and China have in common ? DRYWALL! Defective Drywall also known as Chinese Drywall was used from 2001 to 2009.  I hope to enlighten you a bit more about it and what to look for when you are looking at homes that may have been remodeled or built between those years.

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Chinese Drywall or Defective Drywall is a term that you may have heard tossed around, but never really understood what it meant. During the housing boom there was a severe shortage of building materials. Builders could not get their hands on materials fast enough to build the homes they were selling and making HUGE profits. So what do you do when you can’t get the good stuff fast enough ? Naturally, you turn to China and the importation of materials from other countries. During those years, drywall was imported to the United States by the overseas container full. Mostly, the drywall was imported from China, thus, Chinese Drywall.

What is so special about Chinese Drywall over the drywall we had previously been using?  The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says that they have received just over 4,000 different reports from residents of 44 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa and Puerto Rico who believe that their health symptoms or the corrosion of certain metal components in their homes could be linked the Chinese Drywall. Throughout these reports residents have claimed that they have noticed blackening of metal in or on electrical fixtures, appliances, plumbing and air conditioner oils. In addition to the blacking of the metals, homeowners have also described a “rotten egg” smell in their homes and reported health concerns such as irritated and itchy eyes and skin, difficulty breathing, bloody noses, recurrent headaches, asthma attacks, sinus infections, persistent cough and runny noses.  The largest bulk of the homes from these complaints were built in 2006 and in 2007.

The bad news for Floridians? 56% of the reported incidences originated in Florida!

Reports-Of-Chinese-Drywall-By-State-Percentage**Information provided by the Consumer Product Safety Commission

 

How can you tell if your home has Chinese Drywall ? There are the visible signs of the blackening of copper and electrical wiring. The other obvious indication is the date of installation and it can effect drywall installed between 2001 and 2009. Below is a picture of the discoloration of the copper piping in homes.


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Why is this so called Chinese Drywall (probably better referred to as Defective Drywall) different from non-defective drywall? What is the difference? Studies show that the defective drywall has been determined to contain a higher elemental sulfur level. To be more specific there are higher levels of a sulfur called orthorhombic cyclooctasulfur. When the connection of the complaints to drywall were made the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission put together a task force between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to study the health concerns of the problem drywall.

After all of these studies and the discovery of the problem, what is the cure for the diagnosis? According to the CPSC the remediation protocol calls for the replacement of all:

1. Possible problem drywall

2. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms

3. Electrical distribution components (including receptables, switches, and cicuit breakers, but not necessarily wiring); and

4. Fusible-type fire sprinkler heads

In addition, any gas service piping should be inspected and pressure-tested to ensure that the materials comply with the relevant building code(s).

The CPSC also noted in their report for Remediation Guidance that there are companies out there offering alternative remediation approaches. However, they say that they do not have a scientific basis to provide an opinion of such remediation approaches and they urge property owners to use caution in making decisions about alternative approaches.

So, the bad news is that if your home smells like rotten eggs and your copper is turning black you have the symptoms of defective drywall. You will need to have your drywall tested to confirm these suspicions.

Depending on your insurance coverage, contract and/or company the cost of replacing an entire house of drywall, switches, outlets and possibly wiring maybe partially covered, completely covered or not covered at all. Depending on the size of your house this could likely run into the tens of thousands of dollars in damages.

If in fact you do have to replace an entire house of drywall the IRS  has a bit of relief set up for those homeowners (although not great). They are allowing (as of 2010 the latest information we could find here) affected homeowners to treat the damages for faulty drywall as a casualty loss and are providing a “safe harbor” formula for determining the amount of the loss (read about casualty disaster here).

Now you know and knowing is half the battle. If you find yourself looking at a home remodeled or built between 2001 and 2009, you are now equipped to look for the signs of defective drywall. Remember though, the only way to be 100% positive is to hire a company to test the drywall. As I like to say, walk softly and carry a big stick when it comes to looking at one of the biggest purchases you will make in your life. Be cautious and make sure that you go into any transaction with your eyes wide open.  🙂

Information, Not Legal Advice: I/we are not attorneys. We provide the information on this website as a public service. Sometimes the laws change. We cannot promise that this information is always up-to-date and correct. We do not intend this information to be legal advice. By providing this information, we are not acting as your lawyer. If you need legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.