HVAC Industry on Alert for Defective Chinese Drywall
“Copper coils in some a/c units are corroding and the HVAC industry is on alert.” That’s the lead-in to a recent story from ACHR News that probably deserves your attention if you work in any part of this industry (“Coil Corrosion May Be Result of Imported Drywall Defects,” June 22).
As explained by the The News, it’s quite a touchy issue that has the possibility to raise some controversy, for reasons that are easy to see:
The definitive cause is still being researched, but preliminary findings are pointing to sulfur-containing drywall manufactured overseas. According to the Associated Press, “Up to 65,000 homes in the Southeast and California, including 30,000 in Florida, could contain sulfur-emitting Chinese drywall.”
The referenced AP story (“Fla. suit alleges ‘rotten egg’ drywall from China,” USA Today et al., March 2), which was widely carried by print media outlets around the nation in early March, reported that a consumer lawsuit has been filed in Florida, and that the lead lawyer said the excess sulfur in the drywall may be causing numerous problems, including the destruction of residential wiring and appliances along with health problems.
targets home builders and supply companies, an importer and several divisions of German conglomerate Knauf that allegedly used tainted drywall manufactured in a Chinese mill.
“Homeowners for years have been trying to figure out, “What’s the problem with my home? Why does it smell like rotten eggs? Why are the wires failing? Why is the air conditioning unit having to be replaced so often? It’s supposed to be a brand new home,” said Ervin A. Gonzalez, lead attorney for the plaintiffs.
The ACHR News reports that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), working with the EPA and the Department of Health and Human Services, launched a full investigation, and that an initial EPA report “found sulfur, strontium, and iron concentrations at higher levels in the Chinese drywall samples as compared to the U.S. drywall,” with no sulfur at all in U.S. drywall.
The News also reports that since “Not many HVAC manufacturers were willing to go on record with their thoughts and observations on this volatile issue,” they (The News) solicited anonymous comments from manufacturers and contractors, all of whom confirmed the coil corrosion problem, although they had differing thoughts as to its causes.
One company said that, regardless of the corrosion’s cause, ““What concerns us, is that from our experience with this issue, we have noticed that a lot of contractors do not know about this issue and have not yet been properly educated on how to correct it.”
A contractor who operates in several states and has seen a lot of corroded coils said told The News, “These things are terrible. The manufacturers we work with were initially honoring the coil replacements under warranty, but as they see this is a broader problem, some are not planning on honoring them anymore. . . . I really don’t think we have begun to see the scope of this corrosion problem yet.”
Nordyne actually chose to speak publicly, and said they have seen quite a few “mysterious” corroded coils for a long time now. “What we are finding is that this is an industry-wide issue, and many of the samples tested had high levels of sulfur contamination,” they said.
They also said they were glad the issue is being talked about, since “The national media attention has really helped homeowners see that there is something bigger going on than just a failed air conditioner.”
If we hear anything more, we’ll let you know.
Matt Cardin & Brian DeRoy, Goodway Blogging Team
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