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  1. #1
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    Default Chinese drywall help needed

    Need some input from you guys.

    I did a 2002 house today. The whole house had a smell to it, but it was not a sulfur smell. It was really hard to describe. It almost smelled like wet dogs (no joke) throughout the whole house.

    The copper lines running to the air handler were black. The air conditioning system was replaced in 2006 and was icing up, both at the air handler and the condenser unit.

    I pulled off outlet covers in the kitchen - copper wires were fine.
    I pulled off outlet covers in the utility room (where the air handler was) and the ground wire was black.
    I pulled of outlet covers in the master bathroom, which is on the same side of the home as the air handler, and the ground wires were black.
    I did not pull any more covers.

    The distribution panel was in the garage. All the wires looked normal.

    The wate heater was leaking at the elements, but the copper was fine.

    I suspect that this is from Chinese Drywall from my findings. Of course the buyers realtor thought otherwise.

    I have indicated in my report that there are indicators that the home has Chinese Drywall and that testing is necessary. I also indicated that if those tests come back negative that they still need to test to determine the cause of the odor.

    My quesiton is this:

    Where does my liability stand for this? If there is no Chinese drywall, can the builder (the seller is the bank) come after me. Does anyone have any verbage that they would use in this situation. Believe me - I am 95% certain that I am right. The age of the home is slightly before all the hoopla came out, and I am just looking for thoughts and ideas. My report will stand - i would just like some feedback from those of you in the trenches.

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    Bill Siegel
    Florida Home Inspection Team Inc.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Chinese drywall help needed

    Bill,

    Why use Chinese Drywall wording at all ?

    Just Report what you saw and smelled.
    .

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Chinese drywall help needed

    Billy,

    Because I believe that I should recommend something. Besides, what I saw leads me to the conclusion that it is Chinese Drywall. Isnt our job to give our opinion and make reccomendations??

    Bill Siegel
    Florida Home Inspection Team Inc.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Chinese drywall help needed

    Were there laundry facilities in the utility room?

    Point being there are other possiblities besides Chinese Drywall that can lead to blackening of copper.

    Sulfur odors aren't often mistaken for "wet dog" smells. Ammonia plus cigarette smoke residue often is.

    Drawing a conclusion as you have might not be prudent. Reporting observations and smells and recommending further investigation may be wiser.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Chinese drywall help needed

    Quote Originally Posted by william siegel View Post
    I have indicated in my report that there are indicators that the home has Chinese Drywall and that testing is necessary. I also indicated that if those tests come back negative that they still need to test to determine the cause of the odor.

    Bill,

    I would report all the evidence you found which indicates that Chinese drywall *MAY* ... that is key, "may" ... be present, and then do as you said - recommend testing and additional investigation as to whether or not Chinese drywall is present.

    What you describe almost indicates that there may be Chinese drywall installed in parts of the house but not in other parts of the house. I used to say that was unlikely as most drywall installers order the drywall from the same supplier, so it either was or was not, however, I now know that many suppliers carried several brands of drywall at the same time (instead of all one brand and switching during a contract change over) as they would buy from which ever source was the cheapest for each truckload ordered, which means there could be several brands of drywall in one house.

    Which means that it is highly likely that Chinese drywall is mixed with non-Chinese drywall in the same house. It has happened in many, many cases.

    I would be more concerned about NOT mentioning the *possibility* of Chinese drywall based on the evidence you found. After all, regarding the liability for mentioning it you are telling them to "verify it with further testing and investigation", and if they do not and Chinese drywall is present, it is the buyers problem, and if they do and Chinese drywall is present, it is the banks problem.

    Likewise, if they do not and they do not buy the house, *YOU* *DID NOT* tell them *IT HAD* Chinese drywall, you said it *MAY* and that it needs to be checked out. If the bank elects *not to have it checked out*, as the bank likely will not (partially for fear of confirming it is Chinese drywall and partially because they do not want to spend the money), then it is the bank making the decision not to check it out and confirm that the drywall is not Chinese drywall.

    You will be much more likely to get sued if you do not mention the possibility than if you do.

    Anyone can sue anyone else for anything. So make sure you leave it at "may" and "possible". That is unless you looked in the walls and actually found Made in China on the back side of the drywall, and then you state that "some" Chinese drywall was present (which does not mean it is "all" Chinese drywall).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Chinese drywall help needed

    Interesting thoughts.

    Washer and dryer have been removed and the water heater is electric.

    The replacement of the air handler in 2006 seems to be my biggest clue.

    The smell could also be somewhat nuetralilzed because the air conditioner was running, although not very well.

    Bill Siegel
    Florida Home Inspection Team Inc.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Chinese drywall help needed

    Quote Originally Posted by william siegel View Post
    Billy,

    Because I believe that I should recommend something. Besides, what I saw leads me to the conclusion that it is Chinese Drywall. Isnt our job to give our opinion and make reccomendations??
    .
    Recommend finding the cause of the damaged wiring and of the Smell noted.

    " Similar conditions have been noted in homes constructed with drywall containing sulfur and imported from China." ( if you must.)

    Doesn't Florida have a Government web site dedicated to " The Dreaded Chinese Drywall Issue?"

    * your first Post was a Question concerning Liability if No Chinese Drywall was found ( after I presume a form of Destructive Testing was Performed.)
    .

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Chinese drywall help needed

    Jerry,

    Looks like we are on the same page. This is actually what I have written so far:

    During the inspection we found the following indicators that are signs of Chinese Drywall:

    1. There was an odor in the home. It is difficult to describe the odor. It did not have the smell of rotten eggs, but was consistent and the whole interior of the home had the same smell.

    2. The air handler and condenser unit were replaced in 2006, after 4 years of use. Failing systems are also an indicator of Chinese drywall.

    3. The liquid copper line to the air handler was black.

    4. We removed the outlet covers in the laundry room and in the master bathroom and the copper ground wires have turned black.

    We recommend that environmental testing be conducted on this home. Chinese drywall should be one focus of the testing. If testing proves negative for Chinese drywall, other testing should be done to determine the cause of the smell in the home.
    Note: One other way to determine if Chinese drywall is present is to remove sheets of drywall and read the markings on the back of the drywall. The tainted drywall has specific markings that will identify it.
    Any testing or removal of drywall should be done by the builder or owner of the home.

    Bill Siegel
    Florida Home Inspection Team Inc.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Chinese drywall help needed

    Quote Originally Posted by william siegel View Post
    Note: One other way to determine if Chinese drywall is present is to remove sheets of drywall and read the markings on the back of the drywall. The tainted drywall has specific markings that will identify it.
    Any testing or removal of drywall should be done by the builder or owner of the home.
    Another way to tell is to drill / cut a hole in the top plate and look down into the walls with a camera, you can see the labeling without cutting large sections out of the drywall. Or, cut small holes in near the top of the wall and send the camera in those holes, leaving smallish holes to repair.

    The first and easiest place to look is to remove a recessed-in-the-wall bathroom medicine cabinet, usually only 2 to 4 screws, that will let you look right down into the wall, usually where you will see some labeling and even edge tape.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Chinese drywall help needed

    Another possiblity is cupric oxide, which is highly resistant. This can occur from super heating copper (for example letting a copper pot boil dry on an electric stove element or lightening strike).

    Refrigerant leaks in in-use laundry areas can also cause copper discoloration.

    Certainly the blackening electrical wiring is suspect and needs to be investigated. It is unfortunate the laundry machines have been removed - they too (especially an electric dryer plug) may have provided more clues.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Chinese drywall help needed

    Bill,
    An easy way to determine if Chinese Drywall is present is to move the insulation in the attic and look for stickers. Although this is not 100% accurate, it could help you positively identify the drywall if the Knauff labels are found.

    I would certainly mention the symptoms you found and make a recommendation for further evaluation. I don't know if you know this or not, but, it is my understanding that as soon as the Chinese Drywall story broke, almost every Realty company added a disclaimer to their contracts.
    I have added a disclaimer to my reports as well excluding Chinese Drywall, unless, a specific inspection was done for it.

    Just because you don't find it, doesn't mean that it isn't there, either. One house I inspected had three different manufacturers and three different date codes, and that was just the attic drywall!

    One other thing, as numerous builders have gone out of business, if Chinese Drywall is discovered in a home, the homeowner is stuck with it. I would suggest that all inspectors be very careful regarding this issue.

    Eric Van De Ven Magnum Inspections Inc. (772) 214-9929
    www.magnuminspections.com
    I still get paid to be suspicious when I got nothing to be suspicious about!

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Chinese drywall help needed

    Eric,

    I actually have a diclaimer that I use on every home built after 2000 not. It is a separate one page document. If they will not sign it, I will not do the inspection.

    FYI to all the inspectcors out there: an inspector that I know is beign sued for not mentioning chinese drywall, and his inspection was done about two months before all of the stories broke on the issue. The blame game is only just begining.

    Bill Siegel
    Florida Home Inspection Team Inc.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Chinese drywall help needed

    Bill,
    I might think about rewording the disclaimer and making it for ALL inspections. You never know if someone had to do repairs and may have used Chinese Drywall and didn't know it.

    Eric Van De Ven Magnum Inspections Inc. (772) 214-9929
    www.magnuminspections.com
    I still get paid to be suspicious when I got nothing to be suspicious about!

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Chinese drywall help needed

    Excellent point.

    Bill Siegel
    Florida Home Inspection Team Inc.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Chinese drywall help needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Van De Ven View Post
    An easy way to determine if Chinese Drywall is present is to move the insulation in the attic and look for stickers. Although this is not 100% accurate, it could help you positively identify the drywall if the Knauff labels are found.
    Eric,

    I have found many homes which had National Gypsum (or some other domestic brand) drywall on the ceiling, but then had Chinese drywall elsewhere.

    Yes, if you find Chinese drywall in the attic (an easy place to look), then you have found Chinese drywall installed in at least some locations.

    No, if you do not find Chinese drywall in the attic it is not any indication of any type that there may not be Chinese drywall elsewhere.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Chinese drywall help needed

    It does sound like "problematic" drywayll is in the home. I say problematic, because it might not be from China, other brands and manufactuters might have produced tainted drywall as well.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Chinese drywall help needed

    Jerry,
    I agree with you on the fact that there may be Chinese Drywall elsewhere. If you looked in all of the areas you could, removing the medicine cabinet, cover plate for the washing machine, etc., you would still be limited to the areas that you could see.

    The only way to know for sure, would be to examine every piece of drywall. How much should we charge for that? LOL
    It is why I think that every inspector should take this seriously. It isn't limited to Florida.

    Eric Van De Ven Magnum Inspections Inc. (772) 214-9929
    www.magnuminspections.com
    I still get paid to be suspicious when I got nothing to be suspicious about!

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Chinese drywall help needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Van De Ven View Post
    Jerry,

    It is why I think that every inspector should take this seriously. It isn't limited to Florida.
    This is so true! It was just the first place it reared it's ugly head! Arid areas might not see it for who knows how long...... It needs humidity as the trigger to start the chemical reaction.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  19. #19
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    Question Re: Chinese drywall help needed

    Can anyone give me some information on chinese drywall ? was there anykind of lawsuit against the company that made it ? was there a settlement ? If so can u still make a claim if there is that kind of drywall in your buisness or home that is growing mold and turning all the wires and copper black !!! please post info concerning this matter ! thank you !!


  20. #20

    Default Re: Chinese drywall help needed

    Mr. Roussell –

    There is a tremendous amount on information on the Chinese drywall issue on the internet from credible and authoritative sources. You could start here: U.S. CPSC: Drywall Information Center

    William –

    Whilst your findings may in fact indicate Chinese drywall, I have seen other phenomenon result in the same effects. When I make findings with alternative causes, I typically will state that the observations is “consistent with” a particular cause, I then also list the other possibilities.

    When I confident that a particular effect is from a specific cause (but don’t have conclusive evidence) state that I am “confident” of the finding based on the differential analysis, but also state that I could be wrong.

    I don’t know about home inspection business, but in the forensic business, it is perfectly acceptable to identify a speculation as a speculation and for the investigator to state that his conclusions may be wrong.

    Caoimhín P. Connell
    Forensic Industrial Hygienist
    Forensic Applications Consulting Technologies, Inc. - Home

    (The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect my professional opinion, opinion of my employer, agency, peers, or professional affiliates. The above post is for information only and does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supercede the professional advice of others.)

    AMDG


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