Identifying Bad Unhealthy Drywall
LESLIE: Al in Massachusetts needs some help identifying some of this drywall we’ve been talking about, from China, that’s not so good for us healthwise and for the homes, as well.
Al, what are you doing? Are you looking to purchase a house in the South?
AL: Yeah. I’m down in South Carolina and North Florida, looking to pick up a place to hide when the weather gets too cold up on the Cape. And I know toward the end of the building boom, we got some really bad sheetrock and the only way I know to identify it, they say, is the smell of rotten eggs; hydrogen sulfide.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Right. And I think, at that point, it’s already pretty bad.
AL: Yeah. Yeah. So I’m looking for any other way that you can find – figure out that this is bad sheetrock.
TOM: Well, you’re very right to be concerned because this is one of the largest problems in residential construction that we’ve seen in the last 10 years. In fact, the CPSC – the Consumer Product Safety Commission – launched their largest investigation ever, to try to get to the bottom of it.
The best resource for this is a website that the CPSC built for this problem. So I would tell you to go online and search “Consumer Product Safety Commission drywall information center.” Once you get there, you’re going to get to a page that says “Frequently Asked Questions”; one of which is: how do I know if my home has problem drywall? And they give you some really great photographs and some things to look for.
In particular, you want to look on the back of the drywall to see if it says, “Made in China.” There’s your first clue. Secondly, the drywall can be slightly gray in color compared to the whiter drywall that we see in this country. And the most telling clue is what’s happening with everything around the drywall. You see blackening of electric circuits. If you see tarnishing of light fixtures and plating and things like that, that can mean that the sulfur in the drywall is getting out and causing this reaction and could be a potential problem for you.
I would not buy a new house today unless I had a professional home inspector do that inspection, that is very familiar with the drywall problem. And I bet that if you go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors – search for inspectors in your zip code; you’ll be presented with a list of home inspectors that are certified members of ASHI – and call down that list, you’re going to find some people that specialize in this and perhaps have even written about it.
AL: Wonderful. That was just exactly what I wanted; a place to look it up.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright.
AL: Thank you very much. You guys are wonderful.
TOM: (overlapping voices) You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.