Problematic Drywall: How Do You Know if You've Got it & How Did You Get it?


Drywall is a popular construction material that builders use to cover interior walls and ceilings. Many builders prefer to use drywall because it's easy to install and cheaper than traditional plaster alternatives. Unfortunately, some types of drywall can cause serious problems. Learn more about the signs of problem drywall you should look for, and find out why so many American households have this issue.

How Hurricane Katrina caused the problem

In 2005, the United States experienced one of its deadliest hurricanes. Experts estimate that Hurricane Katrina caused over $108 billion of damage, leading to extensive flooding in New Orleans. What's more, 1,464 people lost their lives, while thousands more became homeless.

Unfortunately, Hurricane Katrina was just one of seven major hurricanes in 2005, resulting in an engineering problem unlike anything the United States had ever faced before. To rebuild homes and commercial properties, the United States had to import large quantities of building materials, including drywall. A large proportion of imported material came from China, and experts estimate that 100,000 American homes ended up with Chinese drywall.

The scale of the problem

Since 2004, thousands of American households have complained about 'problem drywall'—many of which came from homes in Florida, but people in Louisiana, Virginia and Alabama have also experienced problems. A lot of the people with the problem have drywall in their home that originally came from China, but US-made drywall can also cause problems.

Problem drywall and human health

People living in homes with problem drywall have complained of several serious health issues. Experts from different research organizations and government departments have tested problem drywall, and the results show that the material emits harmful sulfur compounds. As these emissions build up, people living in the house can experience health problems.

Symptoms that people in these homes experience include:

  • Burning eyes
  • Sinus problems
  • Headaches
  • Breathing problems
  • Skin irritation
  • Asthma

As yet, scientists have not documented a clear link between the problem drywall and these health problems. Nonetheless, most people say that the symptoms lessen or disappear when they are away from home.

Problem drywall and property damage

Problem drywall doesn't just cause health issues. Where builders used these materials, many homeowners also experience other problems around the home.

Contaminated drywall can cause problems with pipes and wiring. Damaged wiring can quickly lead to problems with electronic appliances. People in affected homes complain that their air conditioning units, dishwashers, and refrigerators break down or fail completely because of problem drywall. 

While it is annoying and inconvenient if these appliances break down, other problems are more dangerous. In some cases, corrosive damage from problem drywall disrupts the wiring for smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. In these situations, you and your family are in danger because these essential safety devices may not work when you most need them.

Looking for signs of problem drywall

Even if you or your loved ones don't experience any of the health problems associated with problem drywall, it's important to look for the material, so you can take remedial action.

In some homes with problem drywall, you may notice a smell like rotten eggs. This smell comes from the sulfur compounds that the problem drywall emits. As part of a visual inspection, the Consumer Product Safety Commission also says that you should look for blackened copper wiring or air evaporator coils.

If a builder installed your drywall between 2001 and 2009, you should also ask for laboratory tests to confirm excessive sulfur levels in the drywall. External laboratory tests can also help you measure sulfide gas emissions in the air in your home.

Contaminated drywall is a serious problem in certain American states. If you think you may have this issue, contact professional remediation contractors like Mustang Builders Inc for more advice.


16 July 2015

Talking About Bathroom Upgrades

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