Reuben's Home Inspection Blog

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Chinese Drywall In Minnesota?

A few times each year, I have a friend or family member ask me about Chinese drywall.  Drywall imported from China during the big building boom after hurricane Katrina had high levels of elemental sulfur, which caused problematic hydrogen sulfide emissions.

What?  You don't know what that stuff is?  That's OK, I don't either.

What I do know is that these emissions have a very strong rotten egg odor, cause major damage to homes by destroying copper, and cause health problems in the form of allergy-like symptoms, as well as headaches and nose bleeds.  Homes that have Chinese Drywall are being completely gutted, because the repair requires replacement of the drywall and replacement of the copper in the home - plumbing pipes, electrical wires, electrical panels, air conditioners... etc.

Most of the tainted drywall ended up in Florida and the surrounding states, but wasn't limited to just those areas.

Do we have Chinese drywall in Minnesota?

Should we be worried about Chinese drywall in Minnesota?

To my knowledge, no.  As of 1/7/11, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has received two reports of Chinese drywall in Minnesota.   There are no confirmed cases of this stuff in Minnesota, and I don't think we'll get any.  Why?  Because it's so bulky.

I don't think it makes sense to import drywall from China, then transport it all the way to Minnesota.  At the time I'm writing this post, a 1/2"4'x8' sheet of drywall is selling for $4.40 at Home Depot.  This sheet of drywall weighs 54 lbs.  That comes out to about $0.08 / pound.  I'm no expert on transportation, but I do know that the heavier and bulkier something is, the more it costs to transport.

So what about those two reports of Chinese drywall in Minnesota?  All it takes to file a report with the CPSC is to fill out a form on their web site.   I sent the CPSC an email asking about this, and they responded by sending me a 1.3 megabyte text file that contained database information of every case reported since 2005, along with a few other documents I assume were supposed to help interpret the data, but I found them to be quite useless.  If you'd like to see the files yourself, I've posted them at my web site here.

Both reports for Minnesota were received by the CPSC in 2009; one was in Orono, the other in Burnsville.  I wasn't able to figure out how to interpret the data, but a helpful person at the CPSC informed me that neither one of these were confirmed cases.

In other words, there hasn't been a single confirmed case of Chinese drywall in Minnesota.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections

        

Comment balloon 14 commentsReuben Saltzman • January 18 2011 05:46AM

Comments

Hello Mr. Saltzman, I have not found any chinese drywall here. But I'm sure it exists somewhere. Finding it is key to a great inspection. Goos post.

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) almost 8 years ago

Hi Reuben,

I hope you never find any Chinese drywall in Minnesota or anywhere else nearby. I'm sure you have correctly analyzed the reason - it is simply too expensive to transport it there. As an inspector, are there any tools available to help you identify sulfurous components in drywall? That odor is present in well water also.

Posted by John McCarthy, Realtor - Seacoast NH (Bean Group Portsmouth NH) almost 8 years ago

Hi Reuben, an informative post.  I am aware of only a few cases of Chinese drywall being identified in NC.  I guess though if it is in your house, it doesn't really matter if you are one of few or one of many, the impact is huge.  There are a couple of websites dedicated to the topic.  Thanks again.

Posted by Dale Ganfield almost 8 years ago

I haven't come across it as of yet.  I am thankful that you have addressed this important concern today.  What a travesty for the homeowner who bought their new home and was not aware of the problems to come.

Posted by Dan Quinn, Dan Quinn (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty) almost 8 years ago

Hi Reuben,

I've only heard of chinese drywall on the InterNACHI sites. I'm not aware of any here in Montreal. Its manufactured here and in eastern Canada, so it's not likely to be imported here.

The bulk and weight are shipping factors like you mentioned, but remember once it's on a ship it doesn't matter. it can show up anywhere.

Certainly in range of any fully equipped port facility on the coast or by any river system. Minnesota is on the Great Lakes Seaway so don't be too shocked if it turns up.

I'd like to learn more about identifying it. What to look for?, Are there any tests?, What are the symptoms?.etc.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) almost 8 years ago

Reuben, as you know Seattle is REAL close to China---by ship anyway :)  So far we have seen none of the stuff here either.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 8 years ago

Have not heard of any showing up here in Connecticut. A lot of talk about it, but no one I have spoke with has found any.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Hi Mike - I don't think you have to be any more worried about this stuff than I am; your state has received half as many reports as we've received here in Minnesota (2).

John - me too. I'm not aware of any specific tools that would identify this type of drywall, but I've read about many of the telltale signs.  I haven't seen any of them here.

Dale - thanks.  I assume you haven't seen any of this stuff in person?

Dan - you said it.  This has to be a horrible experience for anyone affected by it.

Robert - Jay Markanich has posted nine blogs about this stuff here on AR, and was even featured in the news about it.  I'm sure he know more about it than me.  Having said that, I've heard that one of the most obvious things to look for during a home inspection is discolored copper. 

Charles - I actually heard that a shipment of this stuff supposedly ended up in Chicago.  I sure that wasn't true.

James - glad to hear it.  Knock on wood.

 

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 8 years ago

Hi Reuben, I have been fortunate and not seen any Chinese Drywall up close.

Posted by Dale Ganfield almost 8 years ago

Congratulations your blog in now featured in the Minnesota Real Estate Group.Minnesota Real Estate

Posted by Steve Baklaich, Treating Buyers & Sellers to Full Service Always. (RE/MAX Results St Cloud Mn real estate) almost 8 years ago

I've been on this for three years Reuben.  Here in VA it is only in a few homes, and they are near the ports.  That is true in most of the states it is in.  I have 9 blogs here on AR and my website, but here is one that shows where most of the complaints have shown up:

http://www.jaymarinspect.com/chinese-drywall-the-final-solution.html

And for those who experience it, this stuff is a big, bad problem!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Whoops!  Just saw your response to Robert!  Silly me...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Dale - glad to hear it.

Steve - good deal, thanks!

Jay - I read every single one of your blogs on this topic to help get more familiarized with this topic.  You're my source for this stuff :)

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 8 years ago

Hi Reuben, I think we're ground zero for chinese drywall here in SW Florida. Copper turning black is a telltale sign, but if the majority of the drywall is chinese, you can smell it from the driveway... like 1000 firecrackers went off at once. It's bad stuff. jay

Posted by Jay Lloyd, Allpro Home Inspection (Cape Coral Florida) over 7 years ago

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