Chinese Drywall Inspections, Fort Myers to Naples FL

 

We perform Chinese Drywall inspections in Naples, Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, Cape Coral and all outlying areas

 

One of the most common concerns we are getting these days is of course the Chinese drywall issue.  This is obviously a serious concern for any homeowner or homebuyer in this area, which has become known as ground zero for the Chinese drywall issue.  Please keep in mind that this issue is still not fully understood and is very fluid at the moment.  Facts may change as we gain more knowledge on the Chinese drywall issue.

 

Our most up to date page on this issue is located at this page:  http://www.ableinspector.com/chinesedrywallinspections-naples-fortmyers

 

If you’re concerned about this issue you’re probably already familiar with the commonly known facts.  I won’t spend much time here reviewing those.  Instead, we’ll look more at the issues that haven’t been widely reported and those pertaining to home inspection.

 

I recently did an inspection for a Bryant / Carrier executive and he gave me a copy of their “white sheet” discussing findings from their internal investigation.  He told me that in homes with Chinese drywall they sometimes had to replace AC coils after just a few months of operation.  Their answer was to come up with a special alloy to plate their coils with to make them better withstand the effects of Chinese drywall, apparently it is pretty effective. 

 

They were probably the first to really track down the problem.  They found that samples of AC condensate water contained high levels of certain acids.  While the details were interesting, they aren’t very relevant here so I won’t delve into that.

 

Chinese Drywall Inspection revealed a corroded AC coilChinese Drywall corroded coil

 

(Above are 2 examples of AC coils destroyed by suspected Chinese Drywall emissions.  Note the black color of the copper coils - this is not normal at this age.)

 

Here are a few important facts pertinent to Chinese drywall and home inspection:

*        It appears that not all Chinese drywall is contaminated.  Some may be perfectly fine.  I recently performed an inspection on a home that had Chinese drywall, but didn’t have any of the symptoms of Chinese drywall contamination.  The AC coil was fine, the wiring was fine and there was no strange odor even though this home was about 3 years old.  While the home didn’t display any symptoms, I want to be sure and point out that resale of the home down the road may be difficult.  I would consider this a major concern.  Chinese drywall has a stigma attached to it that isn’t likely to go away in the near future.

*        A common inspection method is to examine the back of drywall exposed in the attic for markings that may indicate it is Chinese drywall.  While this should be done, this has been overly hyped in the media.  There is a very major problem with this inspection method.  All, or virtually all of the Chinese drywall imported is ½”.  Most ceilings are finished with 5/8” drywall, depending on the spacing of the framing it is attached to.

*        According to the labs I’ve spoken to, air quality tests are a very unreliable way to determine if the home has Chinese drywall.  I’ve been told they are only about 50% accurate.  The most common gas they look for is sulfur dioxide.  They also check for carbon disulfide, carbonyl sulfide and dimethyl sulfide.  This may vary from one lab to another.

*        Sampling the drywall is also not very reliable unless it is done extensively.  In Chinese drywall sampling, a 4” square piece of drywall is cut out and sent to a lab.  As I’ve already mentioned above, few homes contain 100% Chinese drywall.  Most have a mixture of USA made and Chinese made drywall.  The potential for error here is pretty obvious.  It’s also important to remember that a lab doesn't test to see if the drywall is from China, they test for elevated levels of harmful compounds.  The sampling method is the best method we have as long as every, or almost every piece of drywall is tested.  While reliable, this is obviously very expensive as each test is at least a few hundred dollars.

*        The reason Chinese drywall attacks AC coils so aggressively is that the sulfur based gasses make an acid when they come in contact with the wet AC evaporator coil (Think acid rain).  I find it very curious that reports I’ve seen from state health departments are skeptical that contaminated Chinese drywall poses a health issue.  Just as your AC coil is wet, so are your lungs and airways.  Now I’m no doctor, but if this stuff can eat away a metal coil in a few months, I can’t imagine it’s good for you.

*        Chinese drywall seems to attack electrical wiring less aggressively as it is not (or shouldn’t be) wet.  It does damage it, just not as quickly as it does AC coils.

Copper wire damaged by Chinese Drywall gasses.

(This image is of a copper wire blackened by suspected Chinese drywall emissions.)

*        Knauf is the only manufacturer believed to put their name on their Chinese drywall.  It is also labeled as being 12.5mm thick.

*        Some, but not all Chinese drywall is labeled with country of origin.  Much of the Chinese drywall bears no markings indicating country of origin.

*        You will only find this one reported here.  I have never seen this reported anywhere.  Chinese drywall causes Freon leaks.  Freon creates a gas called phosgene when it comes into contact with a flame, such as a furnace or water heater would produce.  Phosgene is a deadly gas, so deadly it was used as one of the original chemical warfare agents in WW I.

CONCLUSION:

To sum this all up, there is unfortunately no practical way to positively determine if a home has, or does not have Chinese drywall short of cutting dozens of holes in the walls and testing the samples.  As you can imagine, this is extremely expensive and obviously leaves numerous holes in your walls.  As inspectors, all we can do is look at the back side of any exposed drywall for suspicious markings, and look for signs and symptoms a home may have Chinese drywall.  The Chinese drywall signs and symptoms include, but are not limited to blackened exposed copper or other metals such as silver.  Blackened AC coil, or badly tarnished electrical connections.  Presence of a sulfur odor should make you very suspicious.  This odor may resemble “rotten eggs” or a burnt match.

While the methods used are generally reliable, there is one and only one way to guarantee a home built between 2002 and 2007 is Chinese drywall free.  That method unfortunately is to replace all of the drywall in the home, with the possible exception of the ceiling drywall since it is often visible from the back side and may be identifiable. 

As a footnote, I feel it is important to add that there are some reports that indicate some USA made drywall may also be contaminated.  Their manufacturers deny any possibility of this, but one cannot rule out that some contaminated gypsum may have been imported for manufacture of drywall by an American company.  I find this believable as much of our cement is now imported from China.

See also:

http://www.ableinspector.com/chinesedrywallinspections-naples-fortmyers

 

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