Does a home inspector check for Chinese drywall?

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Testing for Chinese drywall is not part of the Home Inspection Standards of Practice for either of the national home inspector associations or the State of Florida. But many customers ask about it, and most inspectors are familiar with the warning signs that a home likely has this problematic drywall:

  • A strong sulfur, “rotten egg” smell, especially during hot and humid months.
  • Blackened and corroded metal components in thehome, especially copper wiring in electric panel and copper tubing in evaporator coils of air handler (indoor unit) of air conditioner, as shown. A green corrosion over copper is normal and not an indicator. 
  • Irritated and itchy eyes and skin, persistent cough, bloody noses, runny noses, difficulty breathing, recurrent headaches, sinus infection, and asthma attacks. 

     Although Chinese drywall was installed in the U.S. between 2001 and 2008, most of the affected homes were built during 2006 and 2007, during the peak of the building boom and after several hurricanes did major damage across the southeast in 2004 and 2005. Not all of the Chinese drywall has caused problems, but over half of the reported incidents of defective Chinese drywall were in Florida. 

     Most of the Chinese drywall has been remediated by now but, if a home has the three indictors noted above, the next step is corroboration, which is defined by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) below:

    Because it is possible that corrosion of metal in homes can occur for other reasons, it is important toobtain additional corroborating evidence of problem drywall. Homes with the characteristic metalcorrosion problems must also have at least 2 of these corroborating conditions if the new drywall wasinstalled between 2005 and 2008. For installations between 2001 and 2004, at least 4 of the followingconditions must be met. Collecting this corroborating evidence will in some cases require professional assessors and/or testing by analytical laboratories.

(a) Corrosive conditions in the home, demonstrated by the formation of copper sulfide on copper coupons (test strips of metal) placed in the home for a period of 2 weeks to 30 days or confirmation of the presence of sulfur in the blackening of the grounding wires and/or air conditioning coils;
(b) Confirmed markings of Chinese10 origin for drywall in the home;
(c) Strontium levels in samples of drywall core found in the home (i.e., excluding the exterior papersurfaces) exceeding 1200 parts per million (ppm);
(d) Elemental sulfur levels in samples of drywall core found in the home exceeding 10 ppm;
(e) Elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide and/or carbon disulfide emitted from samples of drywall from the home when placed in test chambers using ASTM Standard Test MethodD5504-08 or similar chamber or headspace testing11;
(f) Corrosion of copper metal to form copper sulfide when copper is placed in test chambers withdrywall samples taken from the home.

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says homeowners should be on the alert for anyone trying to sell test kits, inspections, and quick fixes for tainted drywall. No federally-approved home testing kits currently exist, and no remediation methods other than the replacement of the drywall.

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Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about SAFETY:

What is the best place to install carbon monoxide alarms (CO detectors) in a house? 

Does a home inspector check for lead paint?

Why is it important to use "cabinet screws" to mount the upper cabinets in the kitchen?

Is the door between an attached garage and the house required to have a closer (self-closing device)?

Can the smoke sensors in a home security/fire alarm system replace the smoke alarms required by the building code?

Should I get a lightning rod system to protect my house? 

What are the "Aging In Place" features to look for when buying a retirement home?

How do I safely remove a dead rodent (rat, mouse or squirrel) from the attic?

Does pushing the test button on a smoke alarm test the smoke sensor device inside? 

What is the minimum height of a ceiling fan above the floor?

Should a smoke alarm be installed in the kitchen? 

Why is a double cylinder deadbolt lock on an exterior door a safety hazard?

Why are rubber washing machine hoses a safety risk?

What can I do to avoid kitchen accidents and injuries?

Where are smoke alarms required to be located? 

Are carbon monoxide alarms required to be installed in homes in Florida?

Are old vinyl tile floors dangerous?  

How can I use safety checks to limit my tenant liability for a rental house?

Do you inspect for trip hazards around the home? 

When should I replace my smoke alarms?

• Why is an anti-tip device now required behind the range? 

• What are the hazards to avoid when going into an attic? 

What are the warning signs of a dangerous deck?

Which trees are most likely to fall over on your house in a hurricane?

    Visit our SAFETY page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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