The lawyers have landed in the uproar over Chinese drywall

The continuing saga of homeowners facing problems with Chinese drywall continued this week with a major update by USA Today.

For those that are unaware of the issue, Chinese drywall reportedly used in homes in Florida and other states, is being blamed for off-gassing that causes damage to a home's electrical and heating components. The materials, which were imported after a building materials shortage caused by Gulf Coast rebuilding boom in 2004 and 2005, is also reported to give off a rotten egg odor. Some have reported that it smells a bit like fireworks, not surprising since sulfur is a core ingredient.

Affected homeowners are now claiming health problems severe enough to make them want to move out of their homes. Some have had all of the drywall removed and replaced, as well as additional inspections done to determine if any damage may have been caused to metal building components including wiring, plumbing, duct work and structural hardware that helps hold buildings together.

Beyond the drywall itself, some experts fear that the odor has been absorbed by the insulation in the home, or even the wood framing, further complicating any repair attempts.

The Florida Department of Health states on it's website that it has not identified data suggesting an imminent or chronic health hazard at this time. But regardless of whether the health threat is fact or fiction, one things is certain: in an already difficult real estate market, perception is reality. Homes confirmed to have been built with Chinese drywall will be difficult if not impossible to sell.

According to experts at the American Society of Home Inspectors, issues with drywall and drywall mud from China are not new and have been around since the late 1990s and a big topic of conversation in the local markets.


In an article in the ASHI Reporter, Florida home inspector Michal Conley, reported that one homeowner noticed that her jewelry was tarnishing quickly. Another complained that his air conditioning coil was corroding after only a year or two. Other indicators of a problem include black copper wiring in the main service panel and doorstops that turn black or look tarnished. Television sets, computers, microwaves and refrigerators all have been mentioned as susceptible. Conley says that some home owners have even told builders they'd be happy to swap houses, to one built without the imported drywall.

Complicating matters, Chinese drywall seems destined to become a boom industry for class action law firms that are lining up to represent affected homeowners, with ads running on television, and investigators seeking clients posting their availability to blog posts on the topic.

At least that's one industry that doesn't seem to be suffering a recession.

Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and co-author of My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. He delivers home remodeling advice each week as host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program.

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