Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Carmel on the Case: Chinese Drywall Fix
As problems with Chinese drywall continue to grow, so do companies that claim to have come up with ways to deal with it. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero has a look at one of the latest products on the market.
WSVN -- Ralph and Nancy Santangelo are believers. They say they can now enjoy their Port St. Lucie condo.
Nancy Santangelo, Homeowner: "I couldn't stay in here. It hurt my lungs. My lungs felt very heavy where I couldn't breathe. As soon as I'd run outside I'd be fine, so I just couldn't be in here."
The couple allowed a company called Abshield to treat their home with a new system that claims to stop the smell and corrosive properties of Chinese drywall. It demonstrated the process for us. A fine powder is injected into the walls and acts like a sponge, absorbing gasses emitted by the drywall.
Robert Rife, AbShield: "So, it can't get out. It's there and the product is there for the life of the board. As long as the board is there, our product is there and it is working."
The final steps: The injection holes are patched, and then two coats of a water based product are used to finish the walls. The company says any kind of paint can then be applied on top of it.
Mike Foreman: "Take a deep breath, it's your last fresh air."
Carmel Cafiero: "I can smell it!"
It was this time last year that 7 News first revealed the effects Chinese drywall was having here in Florida. From the rotten egg smell to corroded metals to health effects.
Melissa Harrel: "Coughing, sinus issues, drainage, waking up with sore throats."
The federal government has now received close to 3,000 drywall complaints from 37 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Nearly 60 percent of the claims come from Florida where the drywall was used during our building boom.
Louisiana is next. After hurricane Katrina, Chinese drywall was used extensively as the area struggled to rebuild. Louisiana's attorney general has now filed a lawsuit naming nine foreign manufacturers for what it called "defective and toxic drywall."
Attorney: "How many people here think their house might have defective drywall? Just by a show of hands."
In Florida, private attorneys have also filed lawsuits, but while they work through the courts many homeowners have been left high and dry by builders and insurance companies, and for the most part, clean ups have meant the drywall is torn out and replaced. It's expensive and time consuming. The new Abshield product claims to help on both fronts.
Carmel Cafiero: "In an average home, how long would it take you to do?"
Robert Riffe: "An average home, four to five days."
Robert Riffe: "Right now we are at about a third of the cost of what it would take for a custom home to be torn up."
As with any new product there are skeptics, but the company says independent lab tests show their product works and the Santangolo's say all they know is it worked for them.
Carmel Cafiero: "Did it sound too good to be true?"
Ralph Santangelo: "It did sound pretty, very good to be true."
Nancy Santangolo: "That was back in October, and this is now February and it's like being in a normal home again."
Carmel Cafiero: "And no matter what you're talking a lot of money. Take a 4,000 square foot house. To rip out and replace bad drywall costs about $180,000. Abshield is less at $45,000, but there's nothing cheap about dealing with Chinese Drywall."
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