One issue that is found occasionally during HOME INSPECTIONS in the Greater Houston Area, Texas and more than 20 other states in the U.S. , is Chinese Drywall.
WHAT IS CHINESE DRYWALL you MIGHT ASK ?!
Well, Chinese Drywall is an environmental health associated risk relating to the drywall or sheetrock material used in building walls in houses. The material was placed in more than 100,000 houses nationwide during the period of 2001-2009.
Chinese Drywall contains extremely high levels of sulfur, which is very corrosive and damaging to most metals and is toxic in high doses to humans. It has been linked to HEALTH related issues such as Asthma, Headaches, Coughing, Sore Throats and Irritated Eyes. Along with being harmful to the people occupying the houses, it can be very damaging to many household appliances, basically any that are comprised of metal. Many people actually found out their houses were contaminated by their household appliances failing prematurely of the units typical life expectancy.
HOW TO TELL IF YOUR HOME IS A VICTIM OF CHINESE DRYWALL?
Their are a couple variables that will help you decide if having an expert take a look is worth your money.
Firstly, your house would have to have been built during the period of 2001-2009. The next usual tell-tell sign would be an invigorating smell of sulfur in the house (smells like ROTTEN EGGS!) . Then it goes a little more in depth, Random things placed close or in contact with the sheetrock in the home, basically anything made of metal have started turning greenish white (corroding). Another step would be to shut off a breaker in the suspected area and to remove the plate cover on an outlet and take a flashlight and look at the actual electrical plug to see if the copper wire connected to the plug or the screws were rusting or corroded or turning BLACK.
Any Copper that is in the house and generally located close or touching drywall would typically start turning BLACK, rusting or corroding (turning greenish-white), this also applies to most electrical lines in the home and many other household components made of metal.
TO MEET THE ACCEPTED THRESHOLD OF HAVING CHINESE DRYWALL YOU MUST....
1. Have had Drywall installed during the period of 2001-2009
2. Have BLACKENED Air Conditioning Evaporator Coils or Copper Electrical Wiring
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE UNSURE OR THINK YOUR HOME HAS CHINESE DRYWALL?!
If you think or are uncertain whether or not your home might be victim of this health issue, DO NOT wait, call a Professional Home Inspector in your area to come out and both identify and inform/show you the certain signs of the condition. When it comes to health concerns and the chance of it affecting your family you do not want to wait. An inspector can tell you for certain whether or not you are facing a headache in the near future.
GETTING RID OF THIS PROBLEM!!!
Getting rid of this issue within a home is a little more of a hassle than your regular household problem. This is due to many reasons, the biggest being that it affects more than one component in the house. If the issue was localized to just one thing, say... affecting the Air Conditioning Unit, then you could just replace it. Since it affects wiring, plumbing, walls, Air Conditioners and basically anything metal or copper related, then you have to fix everything that has been affected. The Second main reason is that, the some of the components it affects in the house are typically permanent systems that aren't supposed to be removed are accessible.
The FIRST thing you need to do when you know for sure you have it is to contact a company that provides remediation services for Chinese Drywall. They will then come out and assess your situation since every house is going to be different and provide a repair estimate and detail everything they would have to replace/repair. Since the subject entails such a variety of things, make sure to get repair estimates from several different companies.
Lastly, once a remediation company has been decided on the final step is for them to complete the necessary repairs. They will come in and rip out the flawed sheetrock, repair the wiring that is need while the wall covering is down and accessible and replace any other components that are needed at the time. Then they will put up the new sheetrock and put everything else back in place and you're DONE! ... If only it was that simple...
IF YOU ARE IN THE MARKET FOR A HOME BUILT IN THIS YEAR RANGE THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO IS....
HAVE A PROFESSIONAL HOME INSPECTOR COME OUT AND EVALUATE THE HOUSE TO VERIFY AND REASSURE YOU THE CLIENT, THAT IT IS A SAFE AND RELIABLE INVESTMENT!