What if you expect Chinese drywall?

I have an inspection on Tuesday and the buyer has warned me that there is black copper present. I recently accomplished the Chinese drywall course and I feel confident that I will be able to get an idea if there is Chinese drywall present. But what if there is? Reporting/inspecting for this kind of situation isn’t part of the SOP’s but since he has warned me on the issue I will have to “report what I see” but recommend what next? Who would he contact to fix/further investigate? It is a short sale.
Do you do Chinese drywall inspections? If so, what do you charge? The course teaches you how to go room to room and inspect the attic which would take a long time. Just curious how you charge for this inspection as it could be timely.

Do you know what other elements can cause the copper to blacken?

Just because the copper is black does not immediately mean Chinese Drywall. though the possibility is greater than not.

The copper blackens due to a release of Sulfur Dioxide from the drywall.
Similar chemical releases can come from sewage gases, and cause the same discoloration to copper.

As for cost of performing a Chinese Drywall inspection. I would first look to your competition to see if you can determine what they charge in your area. Try to understand the additional time cost for the inspection and charge accordingly.

Is there really a reason to charge more because you believe there may be Chinese Drywall. If you did not have this knowledge you would not be specifically looking for an area that you can see markings on the drywall. In the course of a normal inspection say you happen to come across evidence of Chinese Drywall would you then increase your inspection price?

On homes that either fall into the date used category or if it is suspected, I tell the clients it will be $150.00 for the CD inspection and if we make it through that, then, it will just be the regular inspection fee.

What is a “CD inspection”?

As for charging, pulling the sub panel and removing the HVAC cover are already part of my inspection process. My price charging question is if they want complete documentation. For example, pulling the refrigerator to check water line, taking the back cover off the refrigerator, pulling all the receptacles in each room and so on. And then provide proper documentation and location will be very time consuming.

The house I’m inspecting is a 2007 and in Florida so there is a good chance of Chinese Drywall. The air handler is close to a toilet and I’m told there is black copper at the air handler and throughout the house (water heater for example).

So based on pitting, black copper throughout the house, what would I report/say. Evidence of Chinese Drywall exist, recommend “what” when they ask how to treat it or what to do?

Follow the protocol established by the state of Florida DOH. If you encounter the “red flags” there mentioned, report exactly that. Recommend further action by someone more experienced or trained to evaluate and quite possibly remediate the damage. You don’t want to assume liability if your not actually in a position to take further action to test or cure. Let the parties involved in the transaction determine what they will do. You just report what you observe. Again follow the established and accepted protocol in the DOH website… http://www.doh.state.fl.us/Environment/community/indoor-air/casedefinition.html …that would be my suggestion.


CD=Chinese Drywall.

I think you might need more than what you have told us so far to make a proper conclusion. The water heater lines can be pitted for other reasons. The air handler is close to the toilet? How close?

I pull the panel and a/c covers as well as part of my normal inspection process. I remove and replace the insulation in the attic to get a look at the backside of the drywall, first. If we get past that point, then I move on to the electric panel, which is what I do first on the interior portion of my inspections anyway, then the a/c.

Based on what you said, so far, I think I might need a bit more before I recommended more evasive methods to determine if the drywall was present.

You might also want to see who the builder was and if they are still in business. Several builders, GL homes in particular, will do a free inspection and if CD is discovered, they will put the homeowner up in either a hotel or another property, and renovate the home for free, or “certify” that the home was CD free.

I think the correct term is Defective Drywall, not Chinese Drywall. Anyway, if the indicators are present, samples should be gathered and sent to the lab for further analysis. This is very costly as many samples are needed for a good indication if it exists. It could be present in one or two rooms, but not the entire home. Don’t miss testing the room where it is present and give the owner the “All Clear”. It’s a very tough nut to crack. I really hate those inspections.

I do what is considered a Criteria 1 Survey and if no foreign drywall is discovered I actually issue a certificate.

For buyers there is no reason to go any further, either it meets the criteria for “possible case” or it doesn’t, those which fail aren’t purchased.

For those currently living in their homes, this is something which shows what was surveyed and the results, so that when they go to sell they can prove there were no signs of foreign drywall at a given time.

Case Definition (12-18-09) for Drywall Associated Corrosion in Residences.

Criteria 1:

Sentinel Indicators of Drywall Associated Corrosion (Possible Case = all 3)

  1. The home was constructed or renovated with new drywall since 2001.
  2. Observed corrosion of air conditioner evaporator coil exemplified by black corrosion on copper tubing components*. The corrosion can result in refrigerant leakage making it impossible to cool the home requiring coil replacement. Coil failures indicative of this problem typically occur every 6-14 months*
  3. Observed metal corrosion, indicated by blackening of one or more of the following:
  • copper wires, ground wires, and electrical connectors

  • un-insulated and un-coated copper pipes and fittings

  • chrome-plated bathroom fixtures

  • silver and copper jewelry

  • mirror backing in bathrooms

If you have answered yes to all three of the above indicators, the home meets the criteria for “possible case”. Continue to Criteria 2 or 3 only if home meets the criteria for “possible case”. Trained professionals performing home assessments based upon this case definition should use their experience, training, and professional judgment to establish their inspection procedures and sampling strategies. Professional judgment is necessary to determine the number of samples and weight of evidence needed to meet each set of criteria. A trained professional, not the homeowner, should conduct inspections and testing described in Criteria 2 and 3.

Black copper where? Watch out for irrigation systems. I’ve had 3 inspections one with private well for irrigation, and 2 with reclaimed water where the main panels were outside or next to a garage door and the wiring inside was completely corroded black from the sulfur content in the irrigation water being presumably released into the air. Nothing inside the house wiring, air handler coils, etc showed any other signs. Good luck