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Odors with new drywall

By
Home Inspector with Advanced Code Group

Over the past few months, owners of newer homes nationwide have been complaining of drywall that smells like rotten eggs. In several cases, they have had to leave their home because the smell was so bad. In addition to the putrid smell, many homeowners have reported problems with air conditioning and other systems that are likely related to the defective Chinese drywall.  This is being called the next EIFS like disaster in the real estate market!

Many have spent hundreds and even thousands of dollars - to have air conditioning, pipes and wiring repaired. Usually, drywall is manufactured in the United States, but a shortage between 2004 and 2006 prompted many builders to buy drywall from China.

Most of the reported problems stem from drywall imported from China during the construction boom years of 2004-2005. Florida and the Gulf Coast states have been the first to report and have issue with this drywall showing up but it also showing up in non-coastal areas.

Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. Ltd. of China, a subsidiary of German-based manufacturer Knauf, is the company at the focus of these drywall problems. If your newer home smells like sulfur or rotten eggs, you may have defective Chinese drywall. The problem is coming from coal ash that was mixed into the gypsum drywall compound. It appears that China was attempting to get rid of their coal ash problems by mixing it with the drywall compound. When the drywall is exposed to moisture, such as high humidity a chemical reaction starts. The result of this reaction is the production of Hydrogen Sulfide and Sulfuric acid gas. This is the rotten egg smell that is present with the drywall.

This drywall is responsible for the destruction of the copper coils in HVAC units in the homes that it has been installed in. The corrosive off gassing is also responsible for damaging many other components in the homes from the copper electrical to the nails and screws that are holding everything together in the home.

If you think that you might have Chinese Drywall, you should contact a reputable home inspector who is familiar with this problem. As this problem is just starting to rear its ugly head, many are not aware of this problem. If you want to learn more, just do a Google search on Chinese Drywall and you will find pages of information on it.