No definite test can be done to determine whether a home contains tainted Chinese drywall. There are no rigorous assessment programs or guidelines to follow to figure out whether a home contains the Chinese drywall.
However, there are several distinct signs that may point to the problem.
The first sign is a strong odor of what’s described by many as rotten eggs, or sulfur. Sometimes, the smell can get so bad that the homes must be evacuated.
Another sign of defective drywall are frequent repairs to air conditioning units. The AC’s evaporator coils normally last well over a ten year period; however, the fumes from the Chinese drywall can corrode the coils. Watch for other household appliances to begin to fail as well—such as microwaves, refrigerators, ovens, and computers. Guitar strings, jewelry, and silverware will tarnish quickly. Mirrors and copper fittings will turn black.
Of course, there are the health issues as well, but these signs can be more difficult to detect or link to the defective drywall. Eye irritation, breathing problems, headaches can all be contributed to allergies or even the common cold.
If the health symptoms occur in conjunction with the appliance and hardware failure, chances are excellent that the home may contain Chinese drywall. The thickness of the drywall sheets can sometimes help in determining whether the home has the tainted drywall. Lori A. Striet, Ph.D., from Unified Engineering stated that most Chinese drywall is at a half inch thick, but some of the tainted drywall can also be at five-eighths. Some of the drywall is also simply labeled “Made in China,” but not all drywall from China is contaminated.