Birmingham Home Inspectors Blog

June 9th, 2022 5:40 PM

Don’t be a member of the “unlucky few home buyers’ club”.

We get this question all the time: " What’s the worst thing that you've ever found?". Before I attempt to answer this, I have to state that most home inspections never really have these types of big issues (even though this is a buyer’s greatest fear). But you asked for it so here's a sampling of home inspections that even surprised us:

  • -Mansion with siding on a mountain top ridge that was so badly weather-damaged that some of the exterior walls bowed outward and weren’t supporting the roof properly.
  • -Two-story home built on a hillside in a slide zone that had tilted so much that the floors sloped severely, and the walls were wracked. 
  • -Two-story home in a high-end residential neighborhood with a beautiful large rear addition improperly attached that had caused the entire home to lean backward.
  • -Home in a popular residential neighborhood built next to a creek that had a sink hole so large under the front of the home that the home was temporarily supported by railroad steel (covered with black plastic) to prevent the front of the home from falling into the hole.
  • -Nice looking ranch home in a rural area that turned out to be supported by a damaged mobile home frame.
  • -Home in an older neighborhood where the plumbing wouldn't drain at all. Turns out the home didn’t have sewer available, and the septic had failed because the ground was not capable of supporting a septic system in the first place. Glanced at it years later and it was still vacant.
  • -High-end brick home sold in a bidding war that was newly painted and no outside cracking visible. One entire side of the home’s crawlspace foundation had dropped an inch or more next to a sinkhole. The foundation settlement was only visible from a difficult-to-reach crawlspace vantage point.

 Again, we almost never see these kinds of unusual issues, but all these examples were from some of the unlucky few real Birmingham home buyers who were looking to purchase a home. Be sure to get a complete home inspection from an experienced and trained home inspector if you want to avoid belonging to the "unlucky few club".

Posted by Andrew Griffith on June 9th, 2022 5:40 PMLeave a Comment

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Bought a house? Read this --Top preparation tips in getting ready for your home inspection.
Home inspections aren't regular events in most people's lives and many including first time buyers are not familiar with the process.

Can I attend my home inspection? Yes for most inspectors. It's just easier for everyone if you're there in case of complicated defects. Many inspectors will invite the buyers to walk with the inspector. It's a great leaning experience but be careful not to distract them. They are there to find significant defects.

Be ready to ask about your big concerns in the home. Often inspectors don't discuss items that turn out to be insignificant to inspectors yet might be a big worry of the buyers.

Don't forget to bring a tape rule- and notepad. Always measure for the refrigerator and washer/dryer if they don't stay. Lately, clients are downloading measuring/floor plan apps in the smartphone for planning and decorating. Some of these actually work surprisingly well. 

Most buyers take a few photos of the interior for future planning after the inspection. I've never seen a seller get upset but if you think this is a concern then just ask the realtor to get permission.

Expect to pay at the inspection. Inspectors typically get paid at the time of the inspection and will have an inspection agreement that needs signing.

Take notes if you want, but part of the inspection process is a written report. Reports are commonly sent out after the inspection. Late that day or the next. Typical inspector's reports today are usually lengthy with notes, info and include photos.

Posted by Andrew Griffith on June 8th, 2022 5:26 PMLeave a Comment

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February 14th, 2022 7:36 AM

 Alabama Home Inspector Trade 2022 At A Glance 


  • At the 2021 year-end, Alabama saw an all-time high of 483 registered home inspectors. This gives Alabama real estate consumers a broad choice. We expect about 400 or more to renew and continued roster growth again into this year.


  • The New 2022 state licenses roster has just recently been updated on the state website. If your broker office compiled your 2022 inspector office list the first few days of the year then you may want to update your list to be current for the year.


  • Alabama Residential New Construction Certified inspectors in the first year of availability (2021) saw 128 home inspectors complete their training to specialize in residential new construction inspections. RNC certified inspectors for new construction sales can be found here:

                        Find the list of inspectors from AHIO’s website here:

                        Or here at the Alabama DOCM website:


  • New licensees continue to come on board with new education and experience requirements now benefiting the industry. Alabama now requires most new inspectors to have 120 hours of education plus onsite training to obtain a license- similar to other trades. The early home inspector laws were mainly for registration purposes, but the new regulations have focused on education and experience as well. With this change, we can help bring the state home inspector trade closer to our home buyers' expectations that are similar to other state-licensed professionals.


  • Take extra care with real estate clients who want home inspections and are bidding on a competitive listing. Some of the newly popular “walk-around” pre-purchase inspections for real estate transactions, may not be complete enough to comply with the Alabama Home Inspectors Standards of Practice that were established as a minimum uniform standard for pre-purchase transactions.


  • The first-ever education conference for Alabama Home Inspectors is being held in Gulf Shores this February 19th and 20th. Continuing education is new to Alabama home inspectors but now Alabama licensed home inspectors as a group are participating in roughly 6000 hours or more of continuing education (as of 2021) on an annual basis statewide. 

Posted by Andrew Griffith on February 14th, 2022 7:36 AMLeave a Comment

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February 13th, 2022 5:15 PM

Don't Do This During Your Home Inspection!


Many home inspectors like the client to attend the home inspection. It is just easier to see the scope of some types of defects than read about them on an inspection report. If you've never attended a home inspection here are some helpful pointers:


  • Inspections may not be kid-friendly. We remember the buyer's unfortunate child that knocked his teeth out when he turned on the seller's treadmill while playing on it. The home being inspected may not be as carefully childproofed as your own home.


  • Don't walk on the pink fluffy stuff in the attic.- (don’t scoff at this one, clients have fallen through the ceiling more than once).


  • Home inspections are not dog-friendly. Some folks always take their dogs to places they go. Okay, I'm with you on this one but sellers won't get it (yep, even if it's vacant).


  • Participate if the inspector allows you to walk along but remember the home inspector's job is to identify significant defects and they need to stay on that task. No no's for instance would be asking "Did you look at this or this?"


  • For naïve people like us--You're probably being recorded so just don't say it if it's that personal. Rude maybe but it's common today in most homes.


  • Turn on the tub/sink or any water on and walk off. Nothing strikes fear in a home inspector more than this one.


  • Decide to test the sprinkler heads while the inspector is walking the exterior.


  • Turn lights randomly on and off. Some home inspectors track their inspection route through the home with the lights and test different circuits.


  • If it looks like it's about to break it probably will so don't touch it. We've had clients accidentally break an entire shelf of display china (they left a note).


  • Don't leave the exterior doors open. It's what gets in that bothers us. "That was not their cat" said the listing agent.


You get the idea----

Posted by Andrew Griffith on February 13th, 2022 5:15 PMLeave a Comment

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November 5th, 2018 9:12 AM

Like many items in the house, water heaters are not designed to last for the life of the house. So inevitably one day everyone’s water heater will need replacement. So, what water heater should you use to replace it? There are many different options today to change the water heater out with. Let’s look at some of the different type of water heaters we commonly see installed during our inspections.

Gas hot water heater: We find this style of hot water heater all day long and this probably makes up the bulk of what we see. One downside to this style is that energy is lost by keeping the water heated in the water heater all day and night. The upside however, is the price of gas is relatively inexpensive so this amounts to little money every month. A common problem people run into when replacing their hot water heater is that there are inevitably issues with the flue pipe or chimney. This can sometimes increase the cost of replacement for a standard gas water heater substantially.

Electric hot water heater: Next to gas water heaters, this is the style we find most commonly installed. These can be very easy to install as there is no flue pipe to deal with. Commonly, when there is a flue pipe issue a solution might be to come back with an electric water heater. While electric water heater are typically more energy efficient, electricity being more expensive than gas causes them to be more expensive to run every month. The recovery time on electric water heater typically lags behind that of gas ones as well.  

Powervent hot water heater: These are gas hot water heaters that essentially utilize a fan to push the hot water heater gases through a plastic flue pipe. The biggest advantage to these guys is the flue pipe does not have to go out through the roof. It can go straight through the side of the house to discharge to the exterior. These can be a great option when trying replace an existing gas water heater that has expensive issues.

Tankless hot water heater: These guys are all the rage these days and capture the most attention from our clients. They are usually gas and are highly efficient. They only heat the water used instead of the older style which constantly heats 40 gallons (or more depending the time you use) thus saving you money. Unfortunately, this water heater can be triple the cost of a traditional water heater installation. Sometimes it can take several minutes for the water to turn hot. The benefit claimed by manufacturers is unlimited hot water. However, there is research questioning how many fixtures can be turned on simultaneously or what temperature you need to have the hot water heater set too, to maintain the designed temperature or the amount of fixtures running.

These are all the different options for some commonly found hot water heaters. There are other styles of course but these are the ones we find the most. As you can tell, it really depends on the installation and house hold for which one would fit you the best.

Posted by Andrew Griffith on November 5th, 2018 9:12 AMLeave a Comment

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October 1st, 2018 10:14 AM
During our home inspections in Birmingham we come across many problems that could have been handled by simple home maintenance. With fall having finally arrived lets talk about some tips to help get your house ready for the coming months. 

1. Clean Out Those Gutters and Downspouts
    Keeping the downspouts and gutters clean is a vital part of your house's health. When gutters clog they can start leaking into the walls and overhang of the house causing damage. Furthermore, gutters can leak onto the ground and sometimes back into the foundation. Keep the gutters clean.

2. Test Run Your Heater
     Fall in Alabama often starts off as a continuation of summer. However, with cooler temperatures quickly approaching now is the perfect time to test fire your heater. Turn it on and see if it is working now so when it finally gets cold enough for regular use you will know if you are in good shape.

3. Look at the Fireplace
    Soon enough it will be time to light a fire in the fireplace. That makes right now the perfect time to give it a quick look. Shine a flashlight up in the flue looking for creosote. While you are looking up the flue, check for any blockages. Operate the damper, opening and closing it. For a more complete inspection, contact a chimney sweep to make sure it is safe and up to scratch.

4. Drain that Irrigation System
   With the weather being so hot, it is not as important now, but in a month it will be a good idea to drain your irrigation system. Even though the irrigation system is underground. The pipes can still bust if the weather gets cold enough for long enough. 

5. Exterior Hose Bib Faucets
   Same thing here, if you have a shut off valve for your exterior faucets then turn them off and drain them. It is also a good idea to disconnect any hoses that are attached so that any lingering water in them wont bust the faucets. 

While some of these ideas seem premature for the beginning of fall, it is a good idea to have them on your list. That way when the weather finally gets cold in say November, you can focus on the holidays instead of home maintenance.

Posted by Edward Griffith on October 1st, 2018 10:14 AMLeave a Comment

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Inevitably, we will all look down while brushing our teeth one day and notice that the sink is not draining quite as fast as it use too. We notice this during our home inspections quite frequently. In fact, is probably one of the more common things we note in our inspection report, especially for bathrooms. 

But before you go reaching for the house hold drain cleaner lets pause for a second and think about the best way to solve the issue.

Many common house hold cleaning agents can contain dangerous/toxic ingredients. For instance, some variations of cleaning agents contain lye. The problem is that some liquid waste can carry these toxic chemicals out into rivers and streams and oceans potentially becoming harmful to wildlife.

Drain cleaners often pose a physical threat to humans and many have warning labels attesting to this. These cleaners are often caustic which is good for cleaning but bad for skin contact. Caustic means that the cleaner is able to burn or corrode organic tissue by a chemical reaction.

 It is very important to keep these cleaning agents in a safe area away from children and pets where they can do no harm. Specifically think about the application of a cleaner to a tub and then having a child bath in it later or your household cat roll around in the tub soon afterwards.

Considerations need to be made if you decide to use drain cleaners.

The way many of these household drain cleaners work can sometimes be detrimental to the waste line system. The cleaners sit in the pipe and generate heat at the clog. They stay in the same place until the clog dissolves. The downside of course, is that this generated heat can potentially damage plumbing pipes. 

With this generation of heat, older corroded pipes can become damaged, there is potential for porcelain like toilets too crack. Even on PVC pipes repeated clogs in the same area can wear through the pipe.

There are some eco-friendly alternatives too store bought drain cleaners. Some folks have had good results with using common household ingredients such as baking soda and vinegar. Obviously, where applicable a plunger is always a good alternative. You can also manually remove and clear out the sink trap for a clogged sink.

Now, knowing all this, we still inevitably use these drain cleaners such as Drano. For things like partial blocks in pipes it seems to be less detrimental to waste lines as the added water flow helps to dilute the potentially harmful chemicals. As always though, be careful when using them as the easiest method is not always the best in the long run. 

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Posted by Andrew Griffith on August 6th, 2018 9:12 AMLeave a Comment

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April 25th, 2018 9:48 PM
After doing inspections year after year and decade after decade in Birmingham, we have noticed that people do not give their dryer vents the proper respect. Everyone is afraid of mold and some of my clients even ghosts but hiding in plain sight, the dryer vent can sometimes be a big deal.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission found that during the course of one year, over 15000 fires were caused by the build up of lint. It is imperative that we keep the dryer vent as clean as possible. This not only helps reduce the risk of fire but also increases the efficiency of the dryer. They make brushes that are especially made to clean out the dryer vent and the dryer vent pipe. We have found that in a lot of new construction the vents are discharged vertically through the roof. These need to be cleaned out even more often.

Also, it is wise to clean out your lint trap on your dryer every time you use it. This will cut down on the build up of lint in your dryer vent pipe. As well cleaning the dreaded areas behind and underneath the washer/dryer area.

Another critical component is to use the correct kind of dryer vent pipe. No plastic and no metal foil. No accordion style corrugated cheap vent pipes please. We prefer to use rigid smooth metal ducts for our dryer vent pipes. The plastic ones are flammable and the accordion style more easily trap lint inside of them. The dryer vent pipe run should not be overly long with each bend in the pipe cutting down on the allowable distance.

So the next time you are doing some maintenance to your house add the dryer vent to the list. This often under-maintained area could really use your attention!

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Posted by Edward Griffith on April 25th, 2018 9:48 PMLeave a Comment

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February 20th, 2018 8:00 PM
Once a year while we are out performing home inspections in Birmingham we come across something called Vermiculite insulation. Vermiculite insulation is a type of insulation used in residential houses to insulate ceilings and walls. We do not come across this type of insulation but it is important when we do find it.

Vermiculite is a mineral that was mined in Libby Montana and was then turned into the lightweight insulation product that was used in homes. The Libby Montana mine also had a deposit of asbestos. So the insulation that came from the Libby, Montana mine became contaminated with asbestos. Unfortunately, the Libby Montana mine was the source of over 70 percent of all vermiculite insulation. The brand name that was often associated with vermiculite insulation is called Zonolite. 

The EPA recommends the following if you have vermiculite insulation:

"If you have Vermiculite insulation, you should assume the vermiculite insulation has asbestos and do not disturb it!"

The EPA then provides an outline as follows:

  • Leave vermiculite insulation undisturbed in your attic or in your walls.
  • Do not store boxes or other items in your attic if it contains vermiculite insulation.
  • Do not allow children to play in an attic with vermiculite insulation.
  • Do not attempt to remove the insulation yourself.
  • Hire a professional asbestos contractor if you plan to remodel or conduct renovations that would disturb the vermiculite in your attic or walls to make sure the material is safely handled and/or removed.

Here is a picture of Vermiculite insulation (the small mineral looking stuff not the fiberglass). 

Posted in:General and tagged: Asbestos Insulation
Posted by Edward Griffith on February 20th, 2018 8:00 PMLeave a Comment

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January 2nd, 2018 10:14 AM

Five Tips To Prep Your House For Winter

One thing we find during our Birmingham Home inspections are busted pipes and leaks that have resulted from freezes. Follow these steps to help protect your house from the cold weather!

1. Keep the pump running for your pool if you have one so that the water cannot freeze in pipes. Make sure the pipe valves are open for it.

2. Insulate your water heater if it is easily insulated and accessible. This has even more of an impact if the water heater is an area that is not conditioned like a basement or garage or crawlspace.

3. Disconnect your exterior hoses and plumbing pipes at the house. Some houses have easily accessible shut off valves for exterior pipes. Shut the valve off and then drain the pipe.

4. Insulate exterior hose pipes and bibs on the exterior of the house if you cannot shut off the water to them! Also insulate pipes in areas of the house that are not conditioned such as in the attic and the garage and even in the crawlspace at pipes that are close to the exterior vents.
5. Get your chimney cleaned. Getting your chimney cleaned out can really help reduce the dangers when it finally gets cold enough to use down here in Alabama. Creosote accumulations can build up and catch fire in chimneys and animals can nest in the flue pipes along with other problems a chimney technician can identify resolve while cleaning the chimney. 

Five Gifts For The New Homeowner This Holiday Season

One of the many great things about being a Home Inspector in Birmingham, Al is the ability to test out so many of the years great new gadgets that pop up. We get to see the new stuff in the houses and then put it through the ropes. The following are some of the cool things that we have started seeing that would make great gifts!

1. WIFI Thermostat

    We cannot say enough great things about WIFI thermostats. I can hardly remember what life was like before mine. The idea behind this feature is that your thermostat connects to the internet and then, using an app on your phone, you can control the temperature of your house from anywhere you have service. It is a great feeling to be driving home from Christmas tree shopping and be able to turn the heat on before we get there.

2. Ring Doorbell

   This one is more modern than the WIFI thermostat. The Ring Doorbell has a camera, speaker and motion sensor in the doorbell. When the doorbell is rung or the motion sensor activated a message gets sent to your phone. From your phone you get a live stream of who is at your door and even talk to them if you wish. Pretty useful for the times you aren't expecting company.

3. Little Giant Ladder

   These ladders are fantastic. They can help you get into some really tight places. Because they can configure into so many different sizes you really only need the one ladder so you don't have to worry about storing a variety of size ladders anymore. We use this ladder all day everyday for work and it just keeps on ticking. We give this ladder huge applause and they are must haves for any homeowner.

4. Patio Heaters/ Fire pits

    Patio heaters and fire pits make fantastic gifts in the Christmas season as the weather starts too cool down. Fire pits are great fun to hang out around in the back yard during football season. Patio heaters put off a surprising amount of heat making the short winter spell that we have in Alabama all that much more tolerable while outside.

5. Cordless Drill

   Last but not least is the cordless drill. The advances in cordless drill technology have been great. The batteries have gotten better and better allowing for some pretty significant usage before recharge is needed. This is a must have for any new home owner, especially first time ones.

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Posted by on November 30th, 2017 3:12 PMLeave a Comment

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AC Condensate Line Tips From Home Inspectors In Birmingham AL

While doing our home inspections in Birmingham Alabama we are often asked about air conditioner maintenance. One of these best tips we can give is to get the air conditioner serviced and checked out by a professional. However, in addition too that, the owner of the air conditioning system can maintenance the condensation line himself! 

First though, what is the condensate line? 

If you go outside your house and walk around the perimeter you are likely to see a small white white pipe dripping. This pipe is usually close to the ground and near the exterior AC unit. These things are just general rules, as it can be discharged anywhere on the exterior and sometimes the pipe is small and clear instead of white. 

By the way, in case you are curious, the condensate line, discharges condensation that is made from the air conditioning process from the evaporator coil to the exterior. So this pipe is suppose to drip when the AC is on. 

The most common way to clean out the condensate line is to pour a small amount of bleach into the condensate line at the vent or entry point near the evaporator coil inside of the house. Always turn the unit off before cleaning the line out. Bleach is only to be used during the summer months as during the winter the bleach may eat away at the pvc pipe and the glues used to bind the pipe joints together. During the summer months, the condensate line also has liquid running through it regularly to help the bleach move through the pipe. Bleach can also kill the grass or plants wherever the condensate line discharges too. 

So if you cant use bleach year round, what can you use?

Vinegar! Distilled white vinegar is significantly less toxic than bleach but also does a good job of helping clean out the line. Usually a 1/4 of a cup will do it and flush it out with water.

It is recommended you do this monthly so the line will not back up and leak into the house!

If you are having issues or cannot find an access point to add the vinegar, call an HVAC technician and he can find it for you and install an access point as needed!

This is just one of the many things we have learned from doing home inspections in Birmingham Al! If you need a home inspection give us a call!


September 26th, 2017 2:41 PM

Water Heater Maintenance

It will always ruin your morning when you wake up and turn the shower on and the hot water is not working. Instead of getting to go about your day, you now have to stop and troubleshoot why there is not hot water and ultimately may have to spend hard earned dollars on calling a plumber. 

There are things you can do however, that can extend the life of your water heater and make it more efficient.   

The most important thing you can do is check the water heater relief valve. If you see this water heater valve leaking, you need to contact a plumber immediately to see the cause of the problem. This can sometimes be caused by a build up of pressure in the water heater which can result in the water heater exploding.  It is recommended by water heater manufacturer, Rheem, that at least once a year you should flush a few gallons of water through the hot water release valve to ensure that this valve continues to operate freely.

Another thing you can do to benefit your hot water heater is to keep it clean! You can consult your water heater manual for cleaning instructions. If, like most of our clients, you have purchased your house with an existing water heater you can try to remove roughly 30-35 ounces of water every month. Removing this water allows some of the minerals that build up in the water heater to drain out. By removing this build up of sediment it can increase the efficiency of the water heater and help you get the industry expected life span of 8 to 12 years out of the water heater. 

Sometimes during home inspections in the Birmingham area we find that an electric water heater has an unusual odor; one of the ways that you can try to remedy this is to drain the water heater, disconnect the power source and then flush a few gallons of chlorine through it. 

In addition to these tips, Rheem suggests to remove the anode rod once a year for inspection. Here, you want to check that there is no more than 6" of core wire showing on either end of the rod. If there is that amount or more of wiring noted than it is time to replace the rod. 

These are just some of the things that we have learned on the job from doing home inspections in Birmingham. As always, if you need a home inspector in Birmingham give us a call!

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Posted by on September 26th, 2017 2:41 PMLeave a Comment

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March 18th, 2011 12:36 PM

CPSC Changes Remediation Protocol

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has made a substantial change to the recommended remediation protocol for homes with problem Chinese Drywall. The new protocol is no longer recommending removal of all electrical wiring.

"With these changes, the remediation guidance for homes with problem drywall calls for the replacement of all

(1) possible problem drywall;

(2) fire safety alarm devices (including smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms);

(3) electrical distribution components (including receptacles, switches, and circuit

breakers, but not necessarily electrical wiring); and

(4) gas service piping and fire suppression sprinkler"



Executive Summary of Identification Guidance and Remediation Guidance

for Homes with Corrosion from Problem Drywall as of March 18, 20111

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Posted by on March 18th, 2011 12:36 PMLeave a Comment

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Installed Years of Possible Chinese Drywall Extended

The CPSC has extended the time period that Chinese Drywall is thought to have been installed. Because of installations that were identified with a 2009 installation date, the CPSC now includes the years 2001-2009 as a potential Chinese drywall installation if the drywall was installed during that time period.

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Posted by on March 18th, 2011 12:19 PMLeave a Comment

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February 27th, 2011 11:07 AM

Chinese Drywall Myths And Misconceptions

--Myth:Homes that don't have a bad odor cannot have Chinese drywall. FALSE--We have discovered numerous homes that contained Chinese drywall but no unusual odor was evident to the homeowner. Some Chinese drywall has low sulfur amounts and has little if any odor.

--Myth:The best way to identify Chinese drywall is random testing of the  wall areas. FALSE-- Often Chinese drywall is only one of many drywall brands installed in a home and random testing can be "hit or miss". While not perfect, a visual inspection of the electrical, plumbing, gas, HVAC and visible drywall under the attic insulation is at present the best method. Testing of identified suspect areas can then be accomplished.

--Myth:Most all homes in the Alabama area built during the building boom probably have some Chinese drywall. FALSE --Many of the newer homes that we have inspected have had no evidence of Chinese drywall.

--Myth:Only homes recently built can have Chinese drywall. FALSE--We have found remodeled homes with Chinese drywall that were as old as 1930.

--Myth:If one home in a subdivision has Chinese drywall then likely all the homes have it. FALSE--We have found many examples of two homes built next to each other where one home has no indication of Chinese drywall and the neighbor has evident Chinese drywall boards and corrosion damage.

--Myth:Chinese drywall was only installed in homes during 2006. FALSE --According to the CPSC, homes with drywall installed from 2001 through 2009 could contain Chinese drywall.

--MYTH:This 3 year old home does not have Chinese drywall because the effects and odors would be apparent by now. False-- We've had clients report that they did not have any indications in the first few years.

--MYTH:I can tell the difference on my walls because Chinese drywall feels different.--The painted surface of Chinese drywall does not necessarily have a noticeable difference in the surface. Some experts believe that the gypsum mineral inside the boards does has a different texture from American boards.

--MYTH:My drywall supplier states that they did not deliver "KNAUF" brand drywall so I could not possibly have Chinese drywall installed. --Chinese drywall was installed in homes from several different Chinese brands-not just Knauf.

--MYTH:The home inspector can tell if my new home has Chinese drywall during a home inspection. --Most often the Chinese drywall is not evident and it takes a different and specific inspection process to attempt to identify Chinese drywall. Most Chinese drywall inspections take about the same length of time as a home inspection. Chinese drywall identification is not included in the Alabama Home Inspection Standards.

--MYTH:All Chinese drywall inspections involve cutting holes into the drywall to test for contamination.--Most inspections are visual and do not involve cutting the drywall. Occasionally, testing may be needed of a specific area of corrosion or drywall board.

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Posted by on February 27th, 2011 11:07 AMLeave a Comment

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Which Brands Of Chinese Drywall Are Most Common In This Area

Although more than two dozen different Chinese brand drywall boards are thought to be possibly installed in homes in the USA (per labeling by the Multi District Class Action Lawsuit- MDL), the ones we have most often found in our area of Alabama indentified as of Chinese origin are: Knauf (several brand variants), Venture, Prowall, and an unmarked board of Chinese origin.

Some exceptions are occasionally found, and recognizing non-labeled boards that are Chinese drywall is one of the challenges with a visual inspection. Another challenge is recognizing domestic drywall boards in order to rule them out as not being of Chinese drywall origin is another challenge. The MDL indentifies just 4 brands as being non-Chinese in origin. However, we have found several dozen different boards that identify themselves as made by companies in the USA.

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Posted by Andrew Griffith on October 20th, 2010 2:35 PMLeave a Comment

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Is All Testing For Chinese Drywall Accurate?

Is all testing for Chinese drywall accurate? The short answer is “No”. The long answer…


Recently, we have had several customers call the office requesting a Chinese drywall inspection with testing. These customers had previously completed  Chinese drywall testing and had been told they had Chinese drywall but wanted yet another and "non partial" inspection with testing. In some cases, upon completion of our inspection and testing, no evidence of Chinese drywall was found. Interestingly enough, in some of these inspections, the very boards in question were clearly manufactured in the USA. Additionally, proper testing by an accredited lab showed no excessive corrosion causing sulfur chemcial present in the questionable drywall.

Why the difference in results? Apparently, some testing companies are using test methods that are not recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Also, some companies are testing strictly for chemicals that are naturally found in USA drywall. In these type tests, the glitch may be that the allowable threshold for the chemical is set so low that some domestic brands may wrongfully be determined to be Chinese drywall.

As we have seen in the last year, the CPSC standards continue to evolve as more is learned about the problems with Chinese drywall. We try to stay abreast of the most current CPSC standards. We keep the lines of communication open with the labs we work with to ensure the most up-to-date testing. While we cannot guarantee our clients their homes do not have any Chinese drywall installed, we can offer some of our clients a level of confidence that will help them rest easier until the CPSC offers final protocol for identifying Chinese drywall.

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Posted by Andrew Griffith on June 1st, 2010 5:18 PMView Comments (1)

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CPSC Releases: Guidance On Identifying Problem Drywall In Homes

With so many companies popping up to offer testing, inspection, and remediation for Chinese drywall, it's no wonder the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published a warning: "Don’t Get Nailed by Bogus Tests and Treatments". The CPSC also recently released guidelines to help bring some standardization to the inspection, testing and remediation of possible Chinese Drywall installations. Hopefully, these guidelines will bring some peace of mind to those who have been wrongfully told they have Chinese drywall. For those who are unsure whether or not they have Chinese drywall, these guidelines may help determine if Chinese drywall is present.

Griffith Home Analysis has long-established relationships with accredited environmental labs. We have been providing residential environmental testing for nearly twenty years and don't take take it lightly. The CPSC recommended drywall tests measure for contaminants as low as 10 parts per million. As a result, we leave the accuracy of these types of tests to qualified chemists. We do not perform onsite drywall tests as we have found some of these types of tests to be inaccurate.

We have discovered, just as the CPSC has suggested in step one of their new guidelines, that a visual inspection of the accessible drywall areas and the home systems' accessible metal components is the best place to start to determine if the possibility of Chinese drywalls existence in a building. Looking for possible markings of Chinese drywall or the corrosion resulting from Chinese drywall has proven to be our best tip-off that a home has Chinese drywall.

Visual identification can be difficult since most of the drywall manufacturer markings are obscured. Most views of the drywall manufacturers stamps are limited to partial stamps on the back of the drywall, pieces of the boards end tape or partial UPC numbers. We rely on our database of information built from hundreds of drywall inspections and first hand information from labs, drywall manufacturers, drywall distributors, builders and developers to help sort the limited information obtained in a drywall inspection.

For more information see the CPSC page:

Posted in:General
Posted by Andrew Griffith on May 21st, 2010 7:28 AMLeave a Comment

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CPSC HUD And CPSC Issue Guidance On Repairing Homes With Problem Drywall

We have been waiting on some standards to evolve and offer some guidance on what to do with the homes that conclusively have Chinese drywall installed. The CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) has released "Guidance on Repairing Homes With Problem Drywall".

For clients who have Chinese drywall, the CPSC publication, as generally expected, recommends "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." In most cases, this means the removal of most of the interior finishes to strip to the studs.

The unexpected result of the CPSC's sweeping recommendation is the effect on homes that have a partial amount of or only a few Chinese drywall boards. In Alabama, our experience with Chinese drywall inspections has discovered many homes with only partial installations of Chinese drywall and some exhibit little or no corrosion damage to the systems. Some contractors are arguing that complete removal of the homes interior and mechanical systems may be overkill. As we have seen in the past year, the guidelines seem to be continually evolving. Many homeowners are waiting for information from the EPA or CPSC on the health impact of the drywall contamination to decide how to react.

For more information see the CPSC web page: 

Posted in:General
Posted by on May 18th, 2010 9:00 AMLeave a Comment

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