Earthquake Retrofitting and What You Should Know About It

The primary purpose of earthquake retrofitting is to keep your home from being displaced from its concrete foundation — making the building safer and less prone to major structural damage during an earthquake. Existing homes need to be retrofitted because our understanding of the effects of earthquakes as well as construction techniques have improved after the homes were built.

It should be understood that there is no such thing as a complete earthquake proof structure. However, with earthquake retrofitting changes can be made within the structure to make it more resilient to ground activity and less prone to damage during a seismic activity. While new buildings these days are constructed with detailed plans and elaborate techniques of earthquake retrofitting, many of the older buildings lack such plans and need to be reinforced to avoid damage to people as well as the building. According to experts, most of the damage caused to buildings during seismic activities is because of side-to-side shaking of the foundation. This can cause the building to slide off its foundation if it is not secured. Or it can even cause the foundation to crack and the building to collapse. In both ways, serious damage would be caused to human life as well as the building, rendering it uninhabitable.

There is a way to make decisions about seismic improvements in spite of this dilemma. In order to both reduce earthquake risk and still have funds left to remodel the kitchen, we suggest some of the following as criteria for determining earthquake improvement priorities:

  • Stage the improvements. Do some of the recommended improvements every year or so until all the desired improvements have been made. Identify the weakest and most vulnerable conditions in your home. Improve these first.
  • Some improvements may be more important to improve safety rather than to protect the property. Do the safety-related improvements first.
    Do the improvements that may be more cost-effective, or possibly the simplest and most straightforward to install. Defer the more difficult or more disruptive improvements for later.
  • If any remodeling is planned, make improvements in other areas first; defer the improvements in the planned remodel areas and make the seismic improvements during the remodeling work.

Even though improvements can be staged and even deferred, it is important to remember that full seismic protection will not be achieved until all recommended work is completed.

Earthquake retrofitting is carried out to make sure that buildings can stand the stress and strain of a seismic activity. The continuous, and sometimes violent shaking of ground from side to side can take a great deal of toll on buildings. One of the most common techniques of retrofitting is to bolt a building to its foundation. Many a times, the connections between the bottom of a building to that with foundation is inadequate and needs to be reinforced. In this manner, the shaking of the foundation will not cause the building to slide off or collapse. Another common method is strengthening the pony walls or cripple walls. Other techniques include external post-tensioning of the structure, dampers, slosh tanks, active control system and many more.

To get started today or for more information, contact us today to schedule a FREE on-site inspection by our team of soft-story experts or call us now at (818)287-8002.

Posted on Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019.