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Tainted Chinese Drywall in Florida is a problem for homeowners, builders, and Realtors®

Thousands of homes in Florida and throughout the United States that were built between 2004 and 2007 may contain tainted drywall imported from China. The presumed defective drywall, much of which has been blamed on Chinese manufactured product shipped to the United States during a shortage following Hurricane Katrina, is thought to be emitting a toxic gas both inside the home and within the walls.

The Chinese drywall contains high levels of sulfur, which produces a rotten egg smell and s believed to be destroying electrical wiring, copper fittings, plumbing, mirrors, air handler and potentially the cause health issues.

The tainted Chinese samples contained traces of strontium sulfide while American drywall samples did not. Strontium sulfide is a gray powder that emits a hydrogen sulfide, or "rotten eggs," odor when exposed to moist air. Hence the reason why Florida and Louisiana seems to be one of the hardest hit areas.

The Florida Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control say that prolonged exposure to the high levels of carbon disulfide can cause breathing problems, chest pains and even death; and can affect the nervous system.

During the housing boom of 2002-2005, it is estimated that more than 500 million pounds of possibly tainted Chinese drywall was imported into major ports throughout the U.S. That's enough drywall to build 100,000 homes.

What hints should you look for in your home to help determine whether your home may have tainted Chinese drywall?

  • Smell of Rotten Eggs but not necessarily the tell-tail sign
  • Failure of the Home's Air Conditioning Units
  • Corroded Electrical Wiring
  • Silver Jewelry or Piping Turning Black
  • Mirrors fading in brilliance
  • Black residue on copper components
  • Copper sink drain corroded
  • Corroding copper air conditioning coils that leads to Freon leaks

Remodel and remedy costs that should be considered: Toxic so laws, via permit, may require a licensed contractor in toxic remediation.

  • Tear-out and removal of drywall
  • HVAC: Replace the air-handler
  • Electrical: Replace all outlets, connections and possibly re-wire the home
  • Plumbing: Replace the exposed corroded fixtures especially the copper fittings
  • Mirrors: Replace all mirrors because of the metal component
  • Waste removal: Possibly toxic
  • New drywall: market price
  • New electrical: trim-out
  • Trim: New baseboards, crown molding and special ceiling details
  • Paint: market price
  • Cost to move out and move back (furniture storage)
  • Estimate analysis of remodel costs: A 2500 sq ft home x $50 sq. ft. = $120,000

How does it affect Realtors?

Realtors are using a Chinese drywall addendum in purchases to protect their buyer clients. Listing agents should be particularly careful when listing a home because after months of marketing costs, their efforts may go unrewarded if a house has Chinese drywall and there is no remedy but a possible remodel.

What Florida builders were affected?

Lennar has confirmed 80 of its homes in Sarasota, Manatee, Lee and Collier counties. Bonita Springs-based homebuilder WCI Communities, Miami-based Lennar Homes and Taylor Morrison, formerly Taylor Woodrow and Montauk Point Crossing in Manatee County's Heritage Harbour.