Nearly 10 years ago, homeowners across the American south learned that homes in their region may have been constructed or repaired with contaminated drywall imported from China. With recent court decisions hitting the news this spring, many are wondering anew about this issue and what experts recommend if homes contain these materials.
What is the problem with Chinese drywall?
Some Chinese manufacturers used unrefined “fly ash”– a residue found in coal-fired power plants – in their wallboard. Fly ash contains strontium sulphide, which can emit hydrogen sulphide, carbon disulphide, and carbonyl sulphide in hot and humid conditions, contaminating a home’s air supply. People exposed to these gasses have complained of symptoms like sore throats, sinus irritations, coughing, wheezing and headaches.
Most of the affected homes were built during the housing boom between 2004 and 2007 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Because domestic drywall was in short supply, contractors used an estimated 250,000 tons of drywall from China in about 100,000 homes.
What is the status of this issue now?
Homeowners, insurers, contractors and many others sued nearly a decade ago to win judgments against and recoup costs from Chinese drywall manufacturers. This spring, a U.S. federal judge referred thousands of cases back to the state courts where they were originally filed for litigation. The lawsuits are complicated because, while drywall easily crosses borders, court decisions rarely do. Collecting damages from a foreign company is also difficult. Further, little scientific evidence shows that Chinese drywall has definitively caused these problems.
How do I know if I have this product in my house?
Professionals like Paul Davis inspect residences for the presence of this inferior drywall and may send drywall samples for laboratory testing. Homeowners should beware: unscrupulous people with no relevant training or skill have claimed to be licensed or certified drywall inspectors. Once again, This is no time for second best®: call Paul Davis at 1-800-661-5975 to discuss drywall questions and concerns.
Some homeowners note these warning signs of drywall issues: a strong sulphur smell, exposed copper wiring in homes that appears dark and corroded, and manufacturer’s labels on the back of the drywall linking it with manufacturers that are known to have used contaminated materials: Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, Knauf Gips, and Taishan Gypsum. Contaminated Chinese drywall cannot be repaired.