Chinese drywall causes homeowner headaches
By Harley L. Sachs
Is your house booby-trapped by deadly sheet rock? Sheet rock is what
the inner walls of your dwelling space are made of. Sheet rock is a
sandwich of stiff paper over a core of gypsum, a calcium mineral bound
with water and useful for its fire retardant qualities. Before a
gypsum wall can burn through, it must first be heated enough to drive
off all the moisture otherwise locked into the gypsum.
Some makers of sheet rock incorporate recycled fly ash in the
manufacture, the byproduct from coal-fired power plants. Its a
convenient way to dispose of or recycle coal ash. Additionally, gypsum
can contain minerals containing sulfide such as iron disulfide (FeS2
pyrite) in the material, hydrogen sulfide (H2S), carbonyl sulfide,
sulfur dioxide (SO2), and carbon disulfide (CS2). Unfortunately, under
humid conditions like the climate of coastal cities, Florida, New
Orleans, the Texas coast, Vancouver Canada, and other maritime
locales, the sulfur can come out of the wall board and cause havoc.
Thats what has occurred in houses built during 2001-2008, housing
built or repaired after major hurricanes destroyed so many homes. In
that time of shortage, lots of sheet rock was imported from China. To
make the imported sheet rock even more troublesome it is believed the
cargo stayed at sea too long and absorbed too much moisture.
The sheet rock was mainly manufactured in a Chinese subsidiary of a
German company, Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co., Ltd. But the U.S.
company, Georgia Pacific has also been named in reports of this
People whose homes have been built or remodeled using this defective
sheet rock have reported a smell of rotten eggs (sulfur dioxide), the
sudden failure of air conditioning units, dish washers, refrigerators,
and black corrosion on copper wiring and pipes. Physical reactions to
the smell have been nose bleeds, headaches, and respiratory problems.
Repairing the damage has in some cases required gutting the entire
house, forcing the owners to move out. The repair costs can exceed the
original cost of the building.
Naturally, the home owners -- besides suffering from the damage --
have been bombarded by developers cajoling them into signing
misleading waivers, lawyers asking they join the class action suits
against the manufacturer of the sheet rock (steadfastly denied by the
German parent company of the Chinese factory), and developers denying
all responsibility. The Chinese manufacturer of the sheet rock takes
the usual Who me? Naw, response. The developers say, Who knew?
Here in Northern Michigan we are unlikely to have any trouble with
this sheet rock. First, you have had to have dry wall installed during
the period 2001-2008. And when do we have hot, humid weather?
Still, this sheet rock problem is yet another case of the consumer
being the victim of a manufacturing error. In the past we have seen
manufactured homes with triple vapor barriers rot out in a few years
because the walls couldnt breathe and the trapped moisture from
winter frost turned walls to mush. Roofing treated with a fire
retardant fell apart when the heat of the summer sun caused the fire
retardant to destroy the glue in the plywood laminate.
The old rule is the buyer beware but how could anyone have
anticipated that a new roof would fail, that a modern house would rot
out in no time, and sheets of drywall could suddenly give off fumes
that corroded the electrical appliances and tarnished grannys silver?
When these things happen the lawyers pounce and the developers flee,
sometimes declaring bankruptcy. If you do have a problem with Chinese
sheet rock, contact the class action lawyers, Parker Waichman Alonso
LLP who filed the first drywall lawsuit in federal court. The web site