Due to the housing boom of the mid to late 2000’s, and the hurricanes that ravaged the Gulf Coast, domestic supplies of drywall became scare and home builders and contractors began to import drywall from China in order to meet demand. Not long after, homeowners began to complain of sulfurous smells in the home and malfunctioning HVAC systems.
Signs and Symptoms of the Chinese Drywall Syndrome
Many home owners first notice something is amiss when they began to notice strong sulfurous smells inside the home, often described as reminiscent of rotten eggs or matches but much stronger. This is due to the offgassing of the drywall.
Chinese drywall has been shown to offgas hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide and carbon disulfide. These sulfurous compounds are what also corrode the copper components in the home including the HVAC system but also affecting plumbing and wiring.
Hydrogen sulfide will result in a black, ash-like corrosion on copper lines rather than the usual blue/green or red corrosion you would expect to find. In a very short time this corrosion becomes sufficient enough to eat through the lines of the AC evaporator coil, causing it to leak out the refrigerant and the system to malfunction.
The issue is most prevalent in Florida, Louisiana and the southeast is not confined to that region. Homes across the US have reported the issue, too. Affected states will have information available on the timeframes for possible contamination and help confirm if your home is affected.
In order to diagnose that your home does indeed have this issue it will need to be inspected by qualified personnel. However, your HVAC technician will tell you if he suspects you have the issue. The corrosion will be plainly visible and often times they are able to see the backside of the drywall which could have identifying markings such as, “Made in China” on it.
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