Chinese drywall creates headaches for homeowners
As if things weren’t bad enough in the Florida real estate market, now we’ve been hit with the Chinese drywall problem, sort of your house coming down with the Swine Flu only with Chinese swine.
If you have recently, or at least during the last several years, built a home or have done renovations involving drywall replacement or installation, hopefully, you’re contractor did not use drywall imported from China. Fortunately for Anna Maria, most of the drywall issues have been in new construction in the eastern parts of Manatee and Sarasota counties, but nevertheless it’s important to be aware of what exactly is being installed in your home.
Chinese drywall was imported from China, corrodes cooper and metal surfaces, often gives off a four odor and is claimed to make you sick. Compounds such as butanethial, carbonyl sulfide, hydrogen sulfide, mercaptan, methylthio pyridine, sulfuric acid, sulfurous dioxide and strontium sulfide have been found in it. The Environmental Protection Agency has declared many of these compounds to be toxic and are not commonly found in drywall manufactured in the United States.
For months, homeowners in Florida and around the country have been reporting physical ailments and symptoms including coughing, irritated eyes, sneezing, sinus problems, sore throat, asthma, difficulty breathing, runny nose, bloody nose, fatigue, headaches, dizziness and nausea after being exposed to Chinese drywall. There has even been some recent evidence of more serious symptoms including urinary tract and bladder infections.
In addition to the obvious potential health related problems tied to Chinese drywall, there are reports of damage to a home’s systems including plumbing, air conditioning, ventilation and electrical wiring. Some homeowners in subdivisions in eastern Manatee County have reported problems with their refrigerator, television and computer as well as a persistent smell of rotten eggs.
The primary culprit in the Chinese drywall is high levels of sulfur which may emit sulfur-based gases. One of the theories is that humidity, which we, of course, have plenty of, causes the sulfur in the tainted drywall to off gas or migrate into the indoor air. This creates a noxious odor as well as corroding cooper and other metals.
It is estimated that the Chinese drywall may be in more than 100,000 homes with over 35,000 of them in Florida. The Florida’s Department of Health is beginning to test the air quality in homes to make a determination if the drywall is making people ill. However, so far, it has not been established if there is an imminent or chronic health hazard.
Meanwhile some of the major Manatee County builders including Lennar, Taylor Morrison and WCI Communities are faced with irritatde homeowners and lawsuits growing by the day. Some of the builders like Lennar are being proactive and working with their clients, others like WCI who are under federal bankruptcy protection, have left their customers in limbo. So far the product is generally available, and at this time the only United States city to ban the use of Chinese drywall is Norfolk, Va. Norfolk is monitoring the drywall by issuing building permits only after contractors can prove they are not using Chinese drywall.
In the overall scheme of things, Chinese drywall is one of our lesser problems, that is unless your home happens to have it. It looks like there’s always something to worry about. This time it’s coming from half a world away, I guess we’ve been Shanghaied by Shanghai, Who knows what’s coming next?