Chinese Drywall – Not A Big Problem In Houston

Filed in Heights News & Events by on June 5, 2011

Chinese Drywall-A Huge Problem Elsewhere

I totally forgot about the use of Chinese drywall and its inherent problems. I was selling some homes under construction in the Heights ~2004 when I first heard about it. The builder was aware of it and hadn’t used. In fact, I haven’t heard of any problems with it locally.

Good ol’ China shipped tons of this crap to the U.S. between 2001 and 2008. Mainly to areas hit hard by hurricanes when domestic producers couldn’t keep up. Evidently sulfur in the drywall reacts with carbon dioxide, then moisture in the air to make hydrogen sulfide (H2S).  Sulfur compounds are toxic and are not good to breath. In addition, they are corrosive and attack metals such as copper, silver, aluminum.

So, if your house has Chinese drywall, not only can you get sick, but your wiring connections (copper) start corroding, causing arcing, flickering lights, etc. Connections become corroded and overheat causing problems or even fires.

Next to go are the A/C units (copper and aluminum). Copper Freon lines corrode, and aluminum evaporator coils corrode and leak very quickly.

Chinese Drywall Blackening of A/C Freon Line

Blackening of A/C Freon Line Due To Chinese Drywall

Blackened Ground Wire Due To Chinese Drywall

Blackened Ground Wire Due To Chinese Drywall

I recently followed Gordon Fox of Fox Inspection Services as he checked a house for Chinese drywall. He cut 2 inch circles of the drywall for testing by a Florida lab. He also looked for signs of corrosion. He pulled of switchplate covers and looked for corroded connections; checked copper pipes for signs of corrosion, looked for rusting sheetrock nails, etc. He even looked for mirrors turning black around the edges. (Silver is what makes mirrors reflective. The silver turns black in the presence of H2S).

The house was clean, as expected, but it was a good learning experience.

Gordon did give some good advice: Chinese drywall is not common in Houston, but if you see any of the signs above in a house built in that time period, check it thoroughly. More importantly, if you are buying a foreclosed home built in this time period, be VERY thorough. Often it was cheaper to abandon a home made with Chinese drywall than to repair it.

For more research on Chinese drywall

Here is Fox Inspection Services’ post on this problem..
Tom Tynan had an article on this problem in the May 29, Houston Chronicle. I couldn’t find it online, but maybe you can. Tom has a weekly talk show on home repairs. I love his show. It’s on a sports radio station 610 AM. I’m not a sports fan, but I listen to him every weekend morning. He also has a blog, HomeShowOnline.  

I am a realtor in Houston heights. If I can answer any questions about the area please call Houston Heights Realtor Rich Martin today. I specialize in Houston Heights homes and the surrounding inner-loop areas. Call with any questions: 713 868-9008

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