Chinese drywall

How do we inspect for Chinese drywall other than the smell of sulphur and looking for corruded wires behind outlet covers?

Blackened copper at sinks, in receptacle and switch boxes or in the panelboard. Blackened copper at the evaporator coil in the air handler and on the refrigerant lines, and a smell of sulphur is about all you can do unless you have an XRF gun.

The presence or absence of Chinese drywall is not within the scope of the inspection, as it is an environmental concern, however if you find these indications you had better alert your client that they may have it in their home. Oh, and just because you don’t see these indications doesn’t mean it isn’t there, either. :wink:

It looked like this in a two year old house that had been unoccupied:

Inspector should have **Errors & Omissions Insurance for Odorous “Chinese” Drywall. **

May 7, 2009
"The lawyer for environmental professionals stressed repeatedly that the inspector should / must have Errors and Omissions insurance that covers Odorous / Chinese drywall assessment." (Indoor Air Quality Seminar at Atlantic Coast University)

An American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH) “Certified Industrial Hygienist” or a AmIAQC board “Certified Indoor Environmentalist” (CIE) can get E&O to cover Odorous “Chinese” Drywall inspections.
“Chinese Drywall” is an environmental issue!

Home Inspectors** “Standard of Practice” does NOT cover “Chinese Drywall**”
Home Inspector** E&O****does NOT cover “Chinese Drywall” inspections.**

Environmental issues require special environmental E&O:

  • **Professional Liability,**E&O that covers Chinese Drywall assessments and Preliminary mold inspections / testing.
  • **Microbial Consulting Coverage,**E&O that covers MOLD Post remediation inspection/testing (Clearance).

Why have a scope of work or standard of practice if you ignore it to make a few bucks.
Just my view

I can’t remember the source but I read somewhere that if Chinese drywall is suspect that by moving some insulation in the attic you should be able to see the markings on the backside of the ceiling’s drywall to determine its source. And yes, I know that moving the insulation is invasive and beyond the SOP.

Not true. Ceiling board has not been implicated, and not all sheetrock was marked. It’s a big can of worms, and there is no simple answer.

What’s the point of the E&O post? Most home inspector E&O policies that I’m aware of don’t cover environmental testing without a rider anyway.

Again, if the inspector sees the indications, it is prudent to let the client know that he/she saw them and to recommend proper testing.

Home inspectors shouldn’t be selling chinese drywall inspections, unless they are qualified to inspect for it. If you can not get E&O for it, maybe you should stick to home inspections. I have several home inspector friends that sell Chinese Drywall inspections but wanting the money does not make it right. Ask the FL DOH who should check for Chinese drywall.
I always thought doing what is best for the client is whats best for your business.

What are you using to check for it?


While I agree in part with your comment, you need to understand that many will view your comments as being self-serving, as you provide environmental testing, no?

Bottom line is that inspectors are bound to offer these services, whether qualified or not; whether trained or not; whether equipped or not.

Merely stating that it is beyond the SOP is not enough. The characterization that ths is an environmental issue is spewed fromthe standpoint of the IH, and not from another point of view.

If the IH stated that the world was flat, should his statement remain unchallenged?

Perhaps the inspector needs to first modify their agreement, disclaiming Chinese drywall, and ensuring that the client initial next to this clause.

But… if you disclaim it, then do not offer the service of finding it. Once you state or intimate that you are better thanthe average bear (or inspector) because you have training or some widget, or start spewing information on a subject whether an expert of not, you have incorrectly set the client’s expectations. This is the start of the parade of pain…

I came across what has all indication to be a home that has chinese drywall this afternoon. My question to you folks is: How should I note this in the report? I advised the client and showed them what I found. I do not test nor am I interested in doing so at this time. My only concern was the client’s knowledge of what is suspect in the potential home. This is why I ask the question. Since I don’t test for it, I really don’t know beyond the reasonable doubt that it exists. But, The copper wires are black, the home was built in 2007 and there is a new air conditioning system manufactured April of 2009 installed. The copper (liquid line back closest to the wall is black. I pulled the electrical panel cover and wires are blackened and a couple of receptacle wires are black. I will post photos later this evening. But, my concern is a potential problem with any statement I make on the report. Any advice will be deeply appreciated. By the way, the buyer said to just stop the inspection early and do not continue. I explained to them that I could not make a decision for them and was in no manner making a legal statement by pointing out the several areas of blackened copper wires. All plumbing throughout the home is plastic so I couldn’t fine blackended copper except for the electrical system. Thank you for the help.


Is your client expecting a report?

I did charge for my time there and I’m sure they want some documentation back and there is my dilema. What exactly should I say in the report?

I mean if I provide a report for what I found what should it read?

Do I send them an abreviated report with the pictures of what I found?

Any advice on this? Anyone faced or facing a similar situation? I’d appreciate some help. Thanks.

Here are the pictures I spoke about earlier. They sure look suspect of chinese drywall contamination but, I am not an expert and only have the State of Florida DOH as a guide. If anyone cares to offer some advice on how I should address this in my report for the customer I sure would appreciate it. Thanks again.

here are some additional pictures…

“The home has some telltale signs of Chinese drywall - the AC coils have turned black, the copper wiring has turned black, etc. Without actual testing the presence of Chinese drywall can not be substantiated.” Inform you client that destructive testing would be needed to look at the markings on the back of the drywall, and that you are not allowed to cut holes in the wall. Put a link in to the state web site that lists these items as back up and tell them they need to contact the builder. Right now it is the builder who has to prove he does not have it. You may want to include something that lets your customer know that, while he has signs of Chinese Drywall, there are other factors that could also cause the wires to turn black and the AC could to turn black. Will it kill the sale of that home - probably. But you have a job to do, so do it. We can only give the information as we know it.

FYI - I did hear that later this month a Chinese Drywall inpsection protocol is supposed to be coming out from the state. If anyone has an update, it would be appreciated.

Thanks Bill. I concur and am presently working on the report. I was definitely going to make mention and include it in my report. I agree with the State of Florida website suggestion you make and plan on including a link to their site along with other information in my report.

The a/c copper line is the existing from that “elbow” you see back to the wall. Someone has replaced the unit. The home is 2007 and the a/c air-handler is 2009. The condensing unit is original. Both different brands. That was what first raised my suspicion and I proceeded to check for further damage or discoloration to the electrical system.

It’s my first home where I find these problems and just wanted another opinion on the pictures. Didn’t want to panic and jump the gun, so to speak. Thanks again for your help. I truly appreciate it.

As an update the customer just called me to ask if I knew anyone who could give her an estimate for making repairs should it turn out to be chinese drywall. I asked her if she is actually looking to buy, since the pricetag for those repairs has to be astronomical! I think she is just a bit confused and dazed over the apparent bad news and after a good nights rest will conside moving on to the next home. I told her there is no lack of homes to buy for sure!

Thanks for the input.



Anyone know a lab that will test for Chinese drywall?