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What Is Chinese Drywall?

The term “Chinese drywall” refers to drywall imported from China from 2001 to 2007 which contains extraneous materials metals and minerals, particularly sulfur, strontium and iron. This tainted drywall will emit sulfur gasses, creating a noxious odor with the potential to corrode copper and other metal surfaces. This can result in damage to your air conditioning unit, other appliances and electronics, electrical wiring and even your copper plumbing.

What Are the Dangers of Chinese Drywall?

The presence of Chinese drywall within a home may result in corrosion of copper and other metal surfaces, in turn damaging electronics and appliances, or your home’s electrical system. It is important to check for the presence of Chinese drywall early, as once the corrosive effects begin to take hold, the amount of damage present in the home will only increase.

One of the foremost physical signs indicating the potential presence of Chinese drywall is corrosion of electrical wiring. Blackened ground wires, general discoloration and corrosion are the key signs to look out for. Another common indicator to look out for is corrosion and pitting of an air conditioner’s evaporator coils located inside the air handler. Such corrosion will eventually cause the unit to stop functioning. An examination of the coils will typically (although not always) reveal a black sooty deposit. This sooty deposit may also extend to the unit’s Freon line.

Signs of more serious electrical problems may also be present. Lights may flicker or dim. Your circuit breaker may need to be reset regularly without an apparent cause. Lights may also flicker without an apparent cause, or a faint buzzing sound may be heard from the electrical system. The presence of any of these signs may indicate the presence of Chinese drywall.

Please remember to disconnect the power to any receptacles, electronics or appliances you’re going to be checking for corrosion in order to avoid getting shocked.

How Would I Know I Have It?Hundreds of millions of sheets of Chinese drywall were imported from 2001 to 2007, with the peak years of import and usage being 2005 – 2007. The regions most susceptible to damage due to Chinese drywall are areas that experience consistently high humidity, like the Gulf Coast region of the United States. The states that should be of the most concern according to the Homeowners Consumer Center include Texas, Louisiana and Florida.

There are several common signs indicating the potential presence of Chinese drywall. One of the first perceptible signs is a persistent smell similar to rotten eggs or ammonia. This is most noticeable upon first entering the home, and may dissipate as you adjust to the room. However, a lack of these odors does not mean you’re in the clear regarding Chinese drywall. There are other, more physical signs to look out for.