Defective Chinese Drywall Complaints Rise in Florida

The Florida Health Department has receive more complaints about foul smelling Chinese drywall from South Florida homeowners.  According to BradentonHerald.com, the department has received 39 such complaints, many from homeowners in Manatee, Sarasota, Pinellas, St. Lucie, Collier and Lee counties.

Over the past several months, owners of newer homes in South Florida have been complaining of drywall that smells like rotten eggs. In several cases, they have had to leave their home because the smell was so bad.  In addition to the putrid smell, many South Florida homeowners have reported problems with air conditioning and other systems that are likely related to the defective Chinese drywall.  Reports indicate that the drywall emits a sulfur compound that corrodes wiring, air conditioning coils and other metals.   Some spent hundreds – even thousands of dollars – to have air conditioning, pipes and wiring repaired.

Usually, drywall is manufactured in the United States, but a shortage between 2004 and 2006 prompted many builders to buy drywall from China.  Most of the reported problems stem from drywall imported from China during Florida’s construction boom years of 2004-2005.  One official with a large building supply company recently told a Florida newspaper that more than 10-million square feet of the Chinese drywall was imported to southwest Florida during that time.

Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. Ltd. of China, a  subsidiary of German-based manufacturer Knauf, is the company at the center of Florida’s drywall problems. Knauf has issued a statement insisting that the sulfur-like smell coming out of its drywall poses no dangers.  The company maintains  that the damage done to air conditioning and electrical wiring is the result of drywall made by some other company – though it has been unable to name which one.

According to BradentonHerald.com, homes built by Lennar Homes and Taylor Morrison are at the center of many drywall complaints.  At least 80 Lennar Homes have the contaminated drywall, and the developer has plans to test 40 more, the website said.  Lennar has acknowledged the problems, and says it will replace drywall, as well as air conditioning, pipes and wiring damaged by the fumes.  The developer also said it would cover relocation costs of families who must move while repairs are made.

Lennar has  hired a Tampa environmental firm to conduct testing on the homes. The developer said in a statement that  sulfur compounds inside the home tested are “far below even the most stringent government health and safety standards.”  However, BradentonHerald.com said some residents are not convinced, and have unable to view Lennar’s testing information.

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