Radiant Remodeling & Custom Homes, Inc
Design, Remodeling, & Inspections

Defective (Chinese) Drywall Inspection

What is Defective (Chinese) Drywall?

AC Coils DarkeningSimply put, it is drywall that is manufactured exhibiting elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide, and/or carbon disulphide. Some homes built between 2001 and 2010 contain imported drywall, known in the press as Chinese drywall. Some consumers who live in these homes have reported problems, including a strong sulfur smell, like rotten eggs; health issues, like irritated and itchy eyes and skin, difficulty breathing, a persistent cough and headaches; and premature corrosion or deterioration of certain metal components in their homes, like air conditioner coils and wiring behind electrical outlets and inside electrical panel boxes. It has been “suggested” that our average hot and humid weather here in Florida, exasperates and accelerates the harmful corrosive emissions in defective sheetrock.

NOTE (2013): “New evidence has been surfacing recently, that some American made/labeled drywall is exhibiting similar harmful emissions, prompting further investigation!” I have always referred to it “properly” as “Defective drywall” since that’s exactly what it is, no matter what it’s origin! Leave it to the clueless press to place racial slander upon the situation. After all…. darn near everything is made in China these days. Now it’s starting to appear that the American drywall manufacturers aren’t so “innocent” after all….. go figure! Robbie Whelan of The Wall Street Journal revealed that these big corporations knew about the problems, yet continued “business as usual”. He uncovered and released these emails dated November 2006! Read them for yourself here.

How We Determine if Defective Drywall is Present or Not

Facts: Unfortunately, there is no cut-n-dry method to determine if defective drywall is present or not, barring gutting the entire home! Fortunately, most homes do not have it so do not dismay! Initial inspection methods are “non-intrusive” in nature, and take into consideration the year built, perhaps a strong sulfur odor, and perhaps a lot of metal corrosion around the home. None of these symptoms are confirmation either way… although if all 3 are present, further inspection methods are highly recommended! Florida AC coils “especially” all blacken over time, but should last well into 10+ years or so of heavy use. All copper (wiring & plumbing) will patina naturally over time as well, just from the oxygen in our air. Add to this that many SW Florida homes use a well for their potable water supply, and most contain high levels of sulfur in the ground water. Also note, that checking the backside of ceiling board via the attic space is not a cure-all either, since in modern (proper) construction, ceiling board is always different from wall board!

So let’s say I as the Inspector find U.S. labeled sheetrock in the attic space, that doesn’t prove anything for any of the wallboard, since it’s always different. Next, let’s “scope” a few wall cavities for labeling and let’s say the representative areas we borescoped are all of US origin. Good right? Wait… let’s complicate things further; as a builder I place my order from my suppliers and have it delivered… hundreds of boards per home on average. It would be impossible for the supplier, let alone the builder, let alone the drywall subcontractor to inspect every single board used in the average home. It get’s worse yet! What if I’m a builder of a sub-division of single family homes, or a townhouse community? Those boards get carried from one unit to another, in the way of excess material from a previously completed unit, or rob Peter to pay Paul at a board here or there, if another unit comes up short. See where I’m going here? You could have a row of townhomes, 6-8 to a building, and only have one or two with/without defective sheetrock! (hypothetically speaking)

The next logical step if all 3 symptoms above are present, is Lab testing. Each sample tested costs anywhere from $175.00 – $350.00 on average, depending on the Inspector and Lab used. (this doesn’t cover the costs to repair all those holes created everywhere!) “Generally” it would be suggested to take “at least” 10 samples from the average 3/2/2 but that is not written in stone, since there is no official statutes or procedures governing this yet…. only suggestions from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Guidance Report as of March 18, 2011. As a Residential Builder and Home Inspector of almost 30 years, I would suggest that once you are really sure you are prepared to invest the large sum of money to do it correctly, you take several samples from indiscreet areas in every room of the home. This gets a bit expensive and is usually only recommended if you are currently in litigation. Sorry for the lengthy post, but I like to educate my fellow citizens before they make too many assumptions or rash decisions.

Careful who you hire!

We are professional remediators of Defective (Chinese) Drywall in Sarasota, Charlotte, and much of Lee counties here in Florida. I use the proper term “Defective” since that is what it is, AND there are now confirmed cases of drywall labeled and barcoded of US origin with similar negative qualities!

Do NOT trust a job like this to a contractor or inspector not sufficiently trained or without an extensive background in Residential Construction and Remodeling! I have over 30 years of “hands on” experience in nothing but Residential building, design, and inspections. I will also talk you out of wasting your hard-earned money, if I strongly believe you will do so! There is an old saying: “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional…. wait till you see what it costs to hire an amateur!”

James Mullen
Radiant Remodeling & Custom Homes, Inc