Everything You Need to Know About Chinese Drywall in SW Florida

signs of chinese drywall

Though Chinese drywall may sound harmless, for many home owners in the southeastern United States it has not been. In fact, it is deemed as an environmental health concern. So, what is it? Well, in short, it’s defective drywall imported from China and used to build an estimated 100,000 homes in 20 states between 2001 and 2009. (*Please note that not all drywall from China is contaminated)

Chinese Drywall Background Information

Drywall is a type of building material that is made when one layer of gypsum-based plaster is pressed between 2 sheets of paper, and then kiln-dried.

Generally, American homes are built using drywall made within the country. However, America was hit by nine hurricanes between 2004 and 2005, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The mass amounts of rebuilding that followed between 2004 and 2007 caused a shortage of drywall that was produced in America. Hence, building companies were purchasing the product from Chinese drywall manufactures, which are far less regulated than nationally produced drywall.

An independent analysis was conducted, and it was determined that since January of 2006, more than 550 million pounds of drywall has been imported into America. This is enough drywall to produce nearly 60,000 average homes.

Why is the Drywall Different?

Lab comparisons were made between American- and Chinese-made drywall, what they found was the Chinese version contained higher levels of pyrite. This suggests that the source of the sulfur compounds being released are because of pyrite oxidation.

The issues with the drywall may be due to the presence of fly ash in the tainted drywall. Fly ash will begin to degrade when moisture and heat are present. While fly ash is also used in American drywall, the process used to manufacture the product creates a cleaner end product.

Furthermore, a laboratory study, conducted in 2010, found that 100% of the tainted drywall samples taken from homes in the southern US were positive for a sulfur and iron reducing bacterium known as Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans. Non-affected drywall samples contained minuscule levels of the bacterium.

Locales Affected by Chinese Drywall

Most complaints within the United States have come from Southeastern states, where a warm, humid climate is present. It’s thought that this type of climate encourages emissions. Here is a look at the locations most affected:

Florida – 56%
Louisiana – 18%
Mississippi – 6%
Alabama – 6%

How do you know if your Home is Affected?

It is important to note that there are other reasons your home may exhibit similar concerns, and it is important that you correctly identify your individual problems. There are several key things you can look for if you suspect a home contains contaminated Chinese drywall.

blackened copper coils on ac from chinese drywallMany people describe a strong sulfur, or “rotten egg”, smell upon entering a home with affected drywall. However, the smell is not always present. The first question to ask yourself is – was the home built between the years of 2001 and 2009? If the home was not built between these years or did not undergo any renovations, it is doubtful Chinese drywall is present. However, if it was built between these years, conducting a visual inspection is your next step.

The best place to begin is to look for blackening on air conditioning evaporator coils and/or copper electrical wiring.

If you find the presence of blackening, it is a great idea to hire an outside lab to conduct a few tests for you. They can look for things such as elemental sulfur located in the core of the drywall, copper sulfide on grounding wires, air conditioning coils, or coupons, and even elevated sulfide gas emissions being given off by the drywall.

Health Concerns of Chinese Drywall

There are many health concerns connected to contaminated Chinese drywall.

Health concerns thought to come from short-term exposure:

  • Sore throat
  • Eye irritation
  • Cough
  • Chest Pain
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Nausea

Health concerns thought to be brought on by long-term exposure:

  • Dizziness
  • Memory Loss
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Irritability

The Centers for Disease Control released a statement suggesting that most homeowners suffered from itchy skin and eyes, persistent cough, runny noses, difficulty breathing, bloody noses, asthma attacks, sinus infections, and recurrent headaches.

The Remediation of Chinese Drywall

If your home contains contaminated Chinese Drywall, it is important that you replace the following items inside your home:

  • All drywall inside the home
  • All electrical wiring (both uninsulated and insulated)
  • All copper pipes
  • The entire HVAC system
  • Most appliances (especially the refrigerator)
  • Electronics such as computers and TVs
  • All carpeting, hardwood, and vinyl flooring
  • All tile flooring, unless it can be protected during remediation
  • All countertops and cabinets, unless you remove and store during remediation
  • All baseboards, trim, and molding
  • All bathroom fixtures

After all the contaminated drywall has been removed, the property must be cleaned with a HEPA vacuum, power-washed or wet-wiped, and then aired out for between 15 and 30 days. You must then have your property certified by an independent engineer to certify that the home was safely remediated.

In the end, don’t write a property off as worthless just because it contains Chinese drywall. The fact is, the home can be safely remediated and brought back to its former glory. Our drywall professionals here at Meeks Drywall have all the skills and know-how to help remediate your home of Chinese drywall from start to finish. If you are thinking about, or have recently purchased a Chinese drywall home in Cape Coral, N. Ft Myers, Bonita Springs, Ft. Myers, Naples, or anywhere else in SW Florida, give us a call today and let’s make your home new again!

Causes of Cracks: Why You Have Cracks in Your Drywall

a settlement crack in drywall above door

Cracks in drywall can be very unsightly, nobody wants to see holes or cracks in their walls. In this article we will cover 5 common reasons why cracks appear in the walls of new and old homes. If you’re seeing cracks in your walls or ceilings then contact the team at Meeks Drywall for an estimate today!

crack around ceiling due to house settlingYour House is a Living Creature

Sounds silly, right? But it’s true, your house is a living creature. Over time, the house settles and cracks pop up. This happens to every house and there’s not much you can do about it. Some parts will settle quicker than others, but the most common cracks are between the walls and ceiling, due to the downward movement. The top edge of a door-frame is another common location for cracks due to the house settling.

This happens due to many reasons, but mainly it’s caused by changes in humidity, temperature, barometric pressure and the effect they have on the dimensions of different materials used to construct your home. When things get cold, they shrink. When they get warm, they expand. The wood studs in your walls might expand/contract at a different rate than the drywall, and all this shifting around causes gaps and cracks.

Improper Drywall Installation

Another common cause of cracks in drywall is improper drywall installation, and there are various reasons why improper installation can cause this problem. The hangers may have messed up by not screwing the drywall on properly, or the finishers could have done a poor job taping and/or applying the joint compound.

It’s possible the joint compound was applied so thick that the top layer dried quicker than the lower layers, causing a surface crack.

Moisture Behind the Wall

Moisture is a common cause of cracks in walls, especially in drywall ceilings in outdoor areas, such as a lanai. Both the wall studs and drywall screws are vulnerable to moisture accumulation, which will lead to rusting and cracks. If you recently had a leak and the drywall got wet then a crack will likely appear. This is a more serious problem and you need to contact a professional if your drywall has been damaged by a water leak. Don’t wait, as mold can occur, and the problem will possibly get worse over time.

Objects Hanging on Wall

Having too many objects, or heavier objects hanging can cause stress on the wall, resulting in a crack. This problem can range from minor to major, depending on the weight of the objects and amount of time it was left alone. These cracks are often covered with large paintings and go unnoticed until it’s a major problem and something falls.

Cracks in Drywall, or Cracked Paint?

cracked paint looks like a crushed eggshell

Sometimes, it’s simply the paint cracking. When it’s the paint you will know because it will look just like a cracked egg. Simply sand it down, apply joint compound and paint again. If you have a textured wall, you will want to match the texture before painting.

Meeks Drywall deals with drywall cracks all the time and we can fix any holes or cracks in your walls, just call 239-470-3875 for an estimate. 

Metal vs. Wood Framing and What You Need to Know

metal studs - second floor of home framed in metal

Even though we specialize in metal framing, we are often tasked with putting up walls with wood. Our team is very versatile and can work with both wood and metal, but we do prefer metal due to the many advantages it provides both the installer and homeowner.

Benefits of Using Metal Studs

  • Durability – metal is more durable and will never rot like wood. It doesn’t catch on fire like wood, and termites don’t eat it like wood. It’s a better long-term solution that will save you money in the future, as wood studs often need to be replaced due to water damage, fire, termites, etc.
  • Price – metal and wood studs are not that different in price, making it an affordable solution.
  • Metal studs are light – they are easier to handle, and easier to install. If you need to move one, it’s not a big deal. Metal studs can also be cut rather quickly with snips, making it a more convenient material to work with.
  • Metal is more predictable, meaning you don’t have to worry about warped studs. 

Metal seems to be the better choice, although there are cases where wood is better to use. Wood studs can hold more weight, and some builders prefer to use wood studs due to the strength of the material alone. With that said, metal studs are surprisingly strong when framed right and can still withstand hurricanes and earthquakes.