Updated: Friday, 02 Apr 2010, 11:45 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 02 Apr 2010, 1:49 PM EDT
HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) - New federal guidelines say thousands of U.S. homes tainted by Chinese drywall won't be safe unless they are completely gutted.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued remediation guidelines to homeowners struggling to rid their properties of problem drywall on Friday.
Earlier this year, HUD and CPSC issued a protocol to help identify problem drywall in the home. Friday's guidance offers the next step to homeowners whose homes have been determined to have problem drywall.
Based on scientific studies, HUD and CPSC recommend consumers remove all possible problem drywall from their homes, and replace electrical components and wiring, gas service piping, fire suppression sprinkler systems, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. According to HUD and CPSC, taking these steps should help eliminate both the source of the problem drywall and corrosion-damaged components that might cause a safety problem in the home.
To view a full text of the remediation guidance CLICK HERE .
Lisa and Jason Dunaway of Courtland moved from their home a year ago. Jason told WAVY.com the guidelines are a good step, but could go further. "I believe the houses need to be torn down," he said.
Lisa, who will no longer walk into her former dream home, explained the CPSC's answers, "will at least get Congress the answers they've been wanting, before they said they could help."
The Dunaways are among a number Hampton Roads homeowners who have made trips to Washington, D. C. to meet with members of the Virginia and Florida congressional delegations. Now that the CPSC has acknowledged a need and a remedy for making the homes safer, the Dunaways said they are prepared to go back to Capitol Hill.
"The congressmen, that we dealt with, the representatives, the senators - they had to have the scientific evidence to go fight. Now they have that," Jason said.
Remediation costs have been estimated at $100,000 to more than $250,000 depending on the size of a home. But the CPSC announcement does not carry a mandate for any agency or individual to take responsibility for the cost.
The Dunaways are looking to Congress and the results of two federal civil cases. Rulings in trials with homeowners and defective drywall manufacturers are expected later this month. In both cases the judge is expected to decide how much manufacturers should pay to remediate homes. The defendant company for the case involving seven Virginia homeowners has never acknowledged the civil proceeding. The company is owned by the Chinese government and the Dunaways say they have doubts China will comply with a ruling in the drywall cases. "It hasn't happened, yet. So I guess there is a 50/50 chance," Lisa said.
The interim remediation protocol was released Friday before all ongoing scientific studies on problem drywall were completed, so homeowners can begin remediating their homes.
CPSC will continue to release its scientific studies as they are completed. Completed studies show a connection between certain Chinese drywall and corrosion in homes. CPSC is continuing to look at long term health and safety implications. To see studies conducted by the CPSC CLICK HERE .
A large quantity of the drywall was imported during the housing boom and after a string of Gulf Coast hurricanes. It has been linked to corrosion of wiring, air conditioning units, computers, doorknobs and jewelry, along with possible health problems.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns consumers to exercise caution in hiring contractors who claim to be experts in testing for and removing problem drywall. In a December 2009 Consumer Alert, the FTC recommends that homeowners confirm a contractor's references, qualifications and background before agreeing to hire them.
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