You may have heard the news about how certain batches of imported drywall have caused health problems in a number of households throughout the United States. So far, over 4,000 cases of problematic drywall have been reported in numerous states, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Drywall problems can lead to significant health and safety risks if they're not taken care of as soon as possible. If you want to make sure your home's drywall isn't affected, you can use the following guide to spot telltale signs of problem drywall.

What Makes Drywall Problematic?

From 2001 to 2007, the United States imported over 550 million pounds of drywall from China and other locations throughout the world. Whereas ordinary drywall contains gypsum-based plaster, this plaster may also contain significant amounts of carbon disulfide, carbonyl sulfide and hydrogen sulfide. These sulfur compounds are thought to come from the higher levels of pyrite used in Chinese drywall.

As pyrite oxidizes, it releases the above sulfurous gases. These gases can cause a variety of symptoms, including headaches, chronic coughing, asthma attacks and sinus problems. These gases also have a corrosive effect on copper and electrical components.

The following sections elaborate on how you can check your drywall for signs of sulfuric outgassing. If you don't feel confident enough to check these symptoms yourself, you can have your contractor assist you in determining whether or not your drywall contains these compounds.

Check the Back-Side of the Drywall

If you have an opportunity to check the backside of the drywall, then you may have an opportunity to check its origin, which is usually printed or stamped on the drywall itself. If your drywall says "made in China," then there's the possibility that it could contain sulfur compounds.

However, keep in mind that not all drywall that comes from China contains these materials. Chinese drywall installed after 2009 has a much lower chance of containing sulfur compounds, while drywall installed between 2001 and 2009 has a greater chance of being problematic.

Follow Your Nose

One way of telling if your home has problematic drywall involves using your sense of smell. The sulfurous outgassing of the contaminants found in problematic drywall usually produces an odor similar to rotten eggs, especially as temperatures and indoor humidity increases. If you smell a rotten egg odor in your home, then chances are it may be coming from your drywall.

Check for Corrosion

Another way of checking for problematic drywall involves an inspection of all of your home's copper components for any signs of corrosion. The sulfurous gases outgassed by problematic drywall can cause copper to corrode quickly, potentially destroying pipes, electrical wiring and other items made out of copper.

  • Open your heating and cooling system's indoor cabinet (normally located in a utility closet or basement) and check the appearance of the copper coils on the air conditioner evaporator. If these coils appear blackened or dark greenish, it could be a sign of corrosion from drywall outgassing.
  • Take a look at your copper plumbing pipes throughout your home. Blackened pipes are also a sign of problematic drywall.
  • Carefully open and inspect your power outlets for signs of corrosion. For instance, the screw holding the ground wire in place should be copper-colored and not blackened or turned bluish-green by corrosion.

What to Do Next?

Getting rid of problematic drywall should be your first priority, especially if you or other occupants have been affected by various symptoms. You should speak to your contractor about replacing your drywall, as well as copper hardware that has suffered corrosion through sulfuric outgassing. Identifying these problems can help you develop a better approach towards creating a safe and healthy solution. For more information, contact a company like Mustang Builders Inc.