Homes Repaired Prior to Chinese Drywall Remediation Guidance May Need More Work

Chinese drywall remediation guidelines recently released by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Department of Housing and Human Development (HUD) are raising questions among homeowners who have already had their homes repaired. Specifically, what should be done in cases where repairs did not follow the new federal remediation guidance?

Since late 2008, the CPSC has received more than 3,000 reports from residents in 37 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico regarding defective Chinese drywall. Gases emitted from Chinese drywall are being blamed for significant property damage, including damage to HVAC systems, smoke detectors, electrical wiring, metal plumbing components, and other household appliances. These gases also produce a sulfurous odor that permeates homes, and cause metals, including air conditioning coils and even jewelry, to corrode. People living with Chinese drywall have also suffered eye, respiratory and sinus problems that may be linked to the gases.

Last Friday, the CPSC and HUD issued a statement advising homeowners to not only remove the defective wallboard, but to also replace electrical components and wiring, gas service piping, fire suppression sprinkler systems, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.

The guidance did not address copper plumbing pipes, heating and air conditioning system components, appliances and other items in the home

Taking the recommended steps, the statement said, should help eliminate both the source of the problem drywall and corrosion-damaged components that might cause a safety problem in the home, the agencies said.

It took the agencies over a year to issue these guidelines. In that time, some anxious homeowners allowed their builders or developers to repair their homes. In many cases, those repairs were limited to replacing the defective Chinese drywall.

The CPSC and HUD guidance singles out wiring, as well as switches and circuit breakers, because the corrosion of these electrical components pose a fire hazard. According to a report on, one Sarasota, Florida construction consultant said the wiring in these homes – now sealed beneath newly installed drywall – must come out.

It’s not known how many homes might need further repairs to comply with the new federal remediation guidance. But early in the Chinese drywall crisis, many builders resisted doing more than removing and replacing drywall. For instance, last year Lennar Homes was citing a study conducted by its own environmental consultant that concluded there was no need to remove all of the wiring because insulated wires left behind the walls were not vulnerable to the corrosive gases. As a result, many Lennar-repaired homes in Florida had most of their original electrical wiring left in place.

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