This article is provided by Preston Sandlin--Home Inspector
I am asked this all the time. Is there toxic Chinese Drywall here in North Carolina and more specifically in Charlotte NC? Since I am a home inspector in Charlotte NC that is a pretty valid question. Before I answer that though I feel it is necessary to explain what the problem is with this drywall.
During the housing boom of 2004-2006 (some sources say 2001-2008) some drywall suppliers imported drywall from China. This is a little unusual to import drywall because it is so heavy and expensive to ship. The reason it was it made sense though at this time was the high demand for drywall caused by the housing boom at the time. Demand exceeded the US domestic supply. This demand was increased further by several hurricanes. The drywall was obviously shipped into seaports and most of the drywall that has been found so far has been found near ports on the gulf coast, Southeast sea ports including Charleston SC and Wilmington NC.
Drywall is made from gypsum which naturally contains sulfur compounds. It is thought that the drywall from China was held up at sea. If the gypsum is exposed to humidity it can cause the sulfides in the gypsum to off gas. The drywall once installed in the houses starts to emit these sulfides. These sulfides cause severe and rapid oxidation of metal. This has caused the air condition coils to rust out prematurely, metal plumbing pipes to rust and electrical fixtures and outlets to rust prematurely. Beside physical problems associates with this drywall there are some health concerns as well. These have been identified as some of the drywall causing problems. People exposed to this toxic drywall include respiratory irritation, headaches, eye irritation, nose bleeds coughing and difficulty breathing.
What are the warning signs that you might have toxic Chinese drywall in your house? Was your house built between 2001 and 2008, particularly 2004-2006? The first and foremost sign is a constant “rotten egg” smell. The second sign would be corrosion or turning black of metal including plumbing, electrical, jewelry, hinges and guitar strings etc. The sulfur also rusts out the air condition coil early. Another thing that you can do to check is to get to the back of the drywall. You can do this in attics or partially finished basements and garages. If you can get to the back of the drywall look to see if you see Knauf or ASTM C36 stamped on it.
The answer to question is there toxic Chinese drywall in NC? The answer is yes. In July of 2006, a cargo ship called the Star Djervanger was docked in Wilmington NC after a trip from China. Its cargo was about 9,000 tons of drywall, enough to build about 2000 homes. It is also estimated that several ships loaded with drywall have come through the harbor at Charleston SC. On April 22, 2009 the first North Carolina Family files a lawsuit involving toxic Chinese drywall in Holly Springs NC. The plaintiffs Daniel and Mary Flannigan have filed a lawsuit against Stafford Custom Homes in Southern Pines NC. The couple alleges they noticed a “rotten egg” egg smell soon after moving into their new house. The Stafford employees said it was coming from a water heater. Stafford replaced the water heater. Then the evaporator coil for the AC rusted out after 3 years. Many metal things in the Flannigan’s house turned black including jewelry and guitar strings. The couple said they were experience severe headaches. The Flannigan’s are suing for compensatory and punitive damages.
It is estimated that some 100,000 homes are affected by this toxic Chinese drywall. So far the majority seem to be in Florida and the Gulf coast but anywhere that there was a housing boom that is fairly close to a port of entry may be susceptible. As of this writing none has been identified in my city of Charlotte NC but all of our inspectors continue to look for signs in houses built between 2001 and 2008. For additional information on toxic Chinese Drywall or other home inspection issues check out or website at homeinspectioncarolina.com or CharlotteNChomeinspector.com
Is There Toxic Chinese Drywall in North Carolina?
This information is provided to the clients of Rich Ferretti by your friends at Home Inspection Carolina