What you need to know about Chinese drywall

Real Estate Agent with Boca Executive Realty

Chinese drywall was a product used throughout Southwest Florida during the construction boom. Now, it's generating a boom of concern. Homeowners say the drywall is corroding their air conditioning units, stinking up their house, and even making them sick. Chinese drywall looks like any other drywall you would see. But the gases released from the Chinese drywall are capable of corroding copper coiling, which is found in nearly every home. When the sulfur is mixed with moisture, it can create a gas that is capable of causing corrosion. Homes he's found with Chinese drywall have had to replace their copper air conditioning coils multiple times.


The best indicator of whether you have Chinese drywall is the smell. Supposedly it smells like rotten eggs or when you first strike a match. If that's not enough to settle your fears, check the drywall itself. Head to your attic and check out the back of the drywall and look for the letters: KNAUF or Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin). This is a manufacturing ID that guarantees that you are looking at Chinese drywall.


If you went through all these steps and found you DO have Chinese drywall, don't freak out. The first thing you should do is call an environmental testing company to legally verify it is the product. Also, you should monitor any health symptoms you suspect could be related to the drywall.


A quick overview: 


Could you have Chinese drywall?

  • Does your home have a strong smell (a sulfur or rotten egg-type smell)
  • Do you have corroded copper coils in your air conditioner or are the coils black?
  • Do you have KNAUF written on the back of your drywall? Go to your attic and look at the back side of the drywall for Knauf. This is the manufacturer's ID, which identifies it as the drywall in question.
  • Chinese drywall is thinner and lighter than typical drywall

Additional information:

  • This specific drywall is made of waste from coal-fired plants. The material that wouldn't burn was recylced into the drywall instead of being taken to a landfill.
  • AMRC, an environmental engineering and testing company, says the problem is mainly in communities, not single family residences built on their own, like in Cape Coral or Lehigh Acres.
  • The drywall was used in 2004 and 2005 because there was a high demand for building materials at the time and this was available and cost-effective.
  • Don't waste money on lab testing. If you went over the checklist above and suspect you have Chinese drywall, call an environmental testing company to come out and verify it. It can be verified for legal purposes without lab tests.
  • Health effects are unknown, there is not enough data on the actual chemical compounds to make a determination.

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