Federal Chinese Drywall Remediation Guidelines RevisedSep 16, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP
New Chinese drywall remediation guidelines issued yesterday by the U.S Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development no longer call for the removal of gas service piping or glass bulb fire sprinkler heads. However, the guidelines continue to recommend that homeowners replace all problem drywall; smoke and carbon monoxide alarms; electrical distribution components, including receptacles; switches and circuit breakers (but not necessarily wiring); and fusible-type fire sprinkler heads.
According to the CPSC, tests just completed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) found no corrosion on smoke alarms, fire sprinkler heads, or gas service piping provided no evidence of a substantial product safety hazard, as defined by the Consumer Product Safety Act. Corrosion of gas service piping was uniform and minimal compared to the thickness of pipes. Some smoke alarms and fire sprinkler heads showed small changes in performance due to accelerated corrosion, but these changes were generally within accepted industry standards.
The agencies do, however recommend the replacement of all fusible-type fire sprinkler heads, because one fusible-type sprinkler head sample that had been exposed to accelerate corrosion did not activate when tested.
In addition, CPSC staff continues to recommend that homeowners replace smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms as part of remediation.
The CPSC says it believes these new guidelines will enable homeowners to comprehensively remediate those homes containing defective Chinese drywall with potentially lower costs than by following the previous remediation guidance.
Going forward, the CPSC said its staff continues to work with voluntary standards organizations to develop improved standards for drywall to prevent this type of problem from reemerging. The standard setting body ASTM International Inc. is also moving to require that all drywall sheets are marked with the manufacturer’s name or a unique identification code, the manufacture date, and the source materials, the agency said.
CPSC believes there may be as many as 6,300 U.S. homes with problem drywall. To date, the CPSC says it has received 3,905 reports from residents of 42 states and the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico, who believe their health symptoms or the corrosion of certain metal components in their homes are related to problem drywall.