Chinese Drywall: What It Is, Why It’s Bad and How to Avoid It – RealtyBizNews: Real Estate News

In modern construction, drywall is as vital a component as wood and cement. Every wall in effectively every home in America is made of drywall; it provides a smooth, insulative surface on which homeowners can apply texture, paint, hang pictures and more. Drywall is a major upgrade from previous wall construction methods, such as hand-applied wall plaster, but there is something that threatens its ubiquity: China.

A significant portion of drywall used in America is
manufactured in China, where manufacturing costs are low and raw materials are
plentiful. However, for nearly a full decade, drywall manufacturers in China
were lax in regulations, and the drywall installed in homes during that period
pose a significant risk to homeowners, contractors and anyone else in their
vicinity. As a result, Chinese drywall has had a significant impact on the real
estate industry, especially in some areas of the country, since the discovery
of its manufacturing defects and health effects.

Homes built or modified between 2001 and 2009 might contain
Chinese drywall. Here’s what that means.

What Is Chinese Drywall

Drywall is typically a gypsum-based plaster that is
kiln-dried between two thick sheets of paper, allowing it to form flat and
smooth. Gypsum is safe and easy to work with, making it an ideal construction
material. Typically, American manufacturers produce enough drywall to sate the
country’s demand. Unfortunately, during the construction boom of the early and
mid-aughts — as well as the increased demand for drywall after Hurricane
Katrina — and Chinese drywall was imported to more than 20 states and built
into more than 100,000 homes.

Soon after construction, homeowners in residences where
Chinese drywall was installed began complaining of odd smells as well as corroded
metal. Often, homes with Chinese drywall suffer from plumbing, electrical and
HVAC issues, and homeowners might notice silver and copper jewelry tarnishing
quickly. Additionally, many residents of households with Chinese drywall suffer
from respiratory illnesses
[1], like asthma and chronic coughing as well as
chronic headaches and sinus issues.

Soon enough, investigations revealed that the drywall
off-gases several volatile chemicals, including carbon disulfide, carbonyl
sulfide and hydrogen sulfide. Laboratory tests determined that the foreign
drywall contains a number of additional strange components, including a higher
level of pyrite, fly ash and a bacteria known as Acidithiobacillus ferroxidans.
Each of these components can release excess sulfur, causing the above-listed
problems.

How to Fix the Chinese Drywall Problem

 Realtors can hardly
venture into Chinese drywall–affected homes and replace the offending
components themselves, but there are steps realtors and agents can take to
ensure their clients remain safe from this threat. For instance, a group of
realtors in Southwest Florida — a region hard-hit by Katrina and thus suffering
greatly from Chinese drywall — are campaigning to add
drywall manufactured in China to the disclosure list
[2], alongside radon gas
and mold. Because inspectors cannot discern Chinese drywall from American-made
drywall with a visual inspection, the mandated disclosure would ensure that
buyers have all pertinent information about issues in their potential home. It
might be wise for all realtors to work for this disclosure for the safety of
their clients and the security of properties everywhere.

Realtors should also be able to help homeowners identify
Chinese drywall in their homes and offer suggestions for remedying the
situation. First, realtors should be able to tell homebuyers if construction
occurred on the property between 2001 and 2009. Then, with the help of a
qualified inspector, realtors should look for blackened copper wiring, AC coils
or plumbing. Then, samples of the corroded copper as well as the offending
drywall should be sent for laboratory testing.

If a home is found to have the dangerous drywall, it might
not be an immediate deal-breaker. Realtors should provide the contact
information of Phoenix drywall repair providers
[3] — or anyone in the region
with experience repairing the damage of Chinese drywall. Plus, realtors should
be able to negotiate a much lower purchase price given the presence of such a
potentially hazardous construction material.

Chinese drywall is a construction issue of equal importance
as asbestos or lead, but few homebuyers are aware of the hazards. A good real
estate agent should be able to explain and address any concerns calmly and
competently, so homebuyers and sellers feel safer and more certain of their
decisions.

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