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Signs of Chinese Drywall

By Pattie Detwiler | August 08, 2013 at 12:36 PM EDT | No Comments

Chinese drywall has been distinguished from other carpentry drywalls by the discovery of its defective and harmful manufacturing ingredients, which emit harmful chemicals. Chinese drywall was introduced into the United States from 2001-2007. Chinese drywall has been found, in some cases, to produce unusual odors, corrode wiring made of copper and cause some irritant health effects to home occupants. Not all exported drywall from China has been found defective, but certain signs remain evident in the worst cases.


Manufacturing Source and Appearance

Some of the most recent samples of tainted Chinese drywall have been traced to a single mine in the Shandong province of China. The primary mineral components used to produce the drywall occur in natural gypsum and have to mined in large quantities. One stamped logo that has been associated with tainted Chinese drywall can be found on the individual panels and reads “Venture Supply Company”, a company that, according to the Better Business Bureau is no longer in business. The panels are dated from 2006 to 2007 and measure ½ inch thick.


Unusual Odors

One telltale sign of Chinese drywall involves the presence of unusual or strange odors in the house. Some reported smells include the odor of rotten eggs (sulfur), ammonia and sometimes a sickly sweet smell. The intensity of the smell does depend, however, on the individual’s ability to detect it as well as on the amount of Chinese drywall material used in the construction of the house.


Electrical Corrosion


One sign indicating the presence of Chinese drywall involves the corrosion or pitting of copper wires, especially ground wires. Air Conditioning evaporator coils located inside the air handler case will show a layer or accumulation of black soot in their fins and coils. The major Freon lines can be contaminated with black soot. Black soot can also appear on the ground terminals and connections inside wall receptacles. Wire comprised of copper can have black deposits on non-insulated sections.


Erratic Circuit Breaker and Lighting Function


Erratic circuit breaker operation has been attributed to faulty wiring corroded by hydrogen sulfide gas, a chemical released in Chinese drywall. Circuit breakers and relays have been known to “trip” off for no apparent reason. A recurring flickering of household lights and lamps indicates the presence of shorts or bad ground contacts attributed to wiring corrosion. Bright flashing sparks that come from wall outlets, switch plates and appliances indicate faulty wiring connections. Another sign involves the smell of burnt plastic near wiring sources, indicating melted wiring insulation.


Health Issues


Some samples of Chinese drywall contain strontium sulfide, a know hazardous gas that proves harmful when inhaled for a prolonged period. Any unexplained illnesses associated with nausea, dizziness and labored breathing could be the result of increased concentrations of strontium sulfide gas. The gas emissions affect visual and sensory perception, especially in small children and the elderly. Concentrated exposure can damage the central nervous system, kidneys, skin, heart, and liver. People who have preexisting diseases like diabetes and emphysema have higher risks of illness; the gas emissions can accelerate and exacerbate their diseases.