Bituminous Insurance Companies
CPSC Updates Remediation Guidance for Homeowners and Concludes Studies Associated with Problem Drywall.
Release Date: September 26, 2011
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released updated remediation guidance for homeowners with problem drywall. The guidance calls for the replacement of all problem drywall; smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms; electrical distribution components, including receptacles, switches, and circuit breakers but not necessarily wiring; and fusible-type fire sprinkler heads. The updated guidance is based on studies completed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
The update of the remediation guidance, along with previously-issued identification guidance should enable homeowners to comprehensively remediate homes containing problem drywall with potentially lower costs as compared to following the previous remediation guidance. The studies performed at NIST on smoke alarms, fire sprinkler heads, or gas service piping found corrosion associated with problem drywall was not substantial, as defined by the Consumer Product Safety Act.
CPSC staff believes that the studies showed differences in sensitivities measured, and coupled with the limitations of the study and an abundance of caution; they recommend replacement or testing of safety equipment to still be part of any remediation of problem drywall homes. Study findings include:
- CPSC and HUD no longer recommend the removal of gas service piping in homes with problem drywall. Corrosion of gas service piping was uniform and minimal compared to the thickness of pipes. The agencies recommend that gas distribution piping in affected homes be inspected and tested as part of the remediation to make sure they are working properly. Any test failures should be corrected according to all applicable building codes and/or authorities having jurisdiction. This change may reduce the cost of remediation for many homes.
- The agencies no longer recommend that glass bulb fire sprinkler heads be replaced in homes. The results of the sprinkler testing suggest that problem drywall emissions may have an impact on fusible-type sprinkler performance. The agencies recommend that glass bulb sprinkler heads in affected homes be inspected and tested as part of the remediation to make sure they are working properly. Any test failures should be corrected according to all applicable building codes and/or authorities having jurisdiction.
- 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. CPSC staff continues to recommend that homeowners replace smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms as part of remediation.
- The agencies do recommend the replacement of all fusible-type fire sprinkler heads because one fusible-type sprinkler head sample that had been exposed to accelerated corrosion did not activate when tested. The agencies note that this type of sprinkler head is generally found in commercial, rather than residential, applications and that the sole failure could not be causally linked to the problem drywall.
- The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) contracted with the CPSC to determine whether sulfur-reducing bacteria were present in samples of imported and domestic drywall and gypsum rock. The results of testing found no sulfur-reducing bacteria were observed in imported and domestic drywall collected from manufacturers, suppliers, storage warehouses, and complaint and non-complaint homes. The low number of bacteria and the lack of observation of any viable bacteria clusters do not support the contention that sulfur-reducing bacteria were metabolically active in problem drywall and causing the emission of sulfur gases, the reported health effects, and the reported corrosion to metal components in homes.
As the federal investigation into problem drywall concludes, CPSC staff believes that the extensive research and testing successfully defined the scope of the problem drywall issue, produced identification and remediation protocols, and provided homeowners with all the assistance possible within the agency’s jurisdiction and appropriated funds authority.
Additional findings from the investigation are available at www.DrywallResponse.gov
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