Since we are known as the best team of Phoenix home inspectors we are often asked about Chinese drywall problems. The fact is that, Arizona’s major metro areas of Phoenix and Tucson are among the regions suspected of having toxic Chinese drywall installed in properties. Most of the suspect drywall is believed to have been installed during the boom years between 2004 and 2007 but may include other dates. The known problems associated with Chinese drywall include a rotten egg smell, corrosion at metallic components and adverse health effects. These problems result from the emission of high hydrogen sulfide levels from the components of Chinese drywall. The emissions are known to worsen during periods of high heat and humidity. To date relatively few complaints from Arizona have been recorded. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports 5 complaints from Arizona as of October 1, 2009. This may be a result of the dry climate in Arizona not yet producing the conditions necessary for high emissions of hydrogen sulfide. Arizona could have a delay in reporting of problems if the dry climate has simply slowed the inevitable adverse effects. Almost 85% of the cases of Chinese drywall recorded to date were found in homes located in Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.
On May 25, 2010 the CPSC formally issued an outline of test results including a list of problem drywall manufacturer’s names. Of the samples tested by the CPSC, the top ten sulfur-emitting samples were all manufactured in China. Some of the Chinese drywall had emissions 100 times greater than drywall produced elsewhere. This report, can be viewed at the CPSC website at www.cpsc.gov/info/drywall along with sample photos and more guidance.
To date, the studies that have been conducted involve Chinese drywall installed in residential homes. Recently an Interim Remediation Guide was released and the recommendations involve extreme measures when Chinese drywall is found. The recommendations are to replace all problem drywall, replace all fire safety/alarm devices (including smoke and carbon monoxide detectors), replace all electrical components and wiring (including outlets, switches and circuit breakers), and replace all gas service piping and fire suppression sprinkler systems
It is important to be aware of the signs associated with the presence of Chinese drywall:
- There may be a rotten egg, sulfur-like, or acid type smell at the property.
- The building may have continuous failures of air conditioner coils, fans and interior components that exhibit excessive metal corrosion.
- Tarnished metal at interior possessions may be noted.
- Electrical wiring behind cover plates may appear black from corrosion at the copper wiring.
- Occupants may have experienced mild to severe upper respiratory problems, nose bleeds, headaches or other serious medical conditions.
It is not easy to detect the presence of Chinese drywall. Confirmation of Chinese drywall usually involves removal of a section drywall to view the writing on the back which may state the name of the manufacturer or have a “MADE IN CHINA” stamp. At this point in time it is critical to stay informed and be on alert for the signs noted above. As the premier team of home inspectors in Phoenix we will keep you posted.