How to Avoid Earthquake Damage with Seismic Retrofit

Earthquakes can cause thousands of dollars in damages. But homeowners can limit potential damage by thinking ahead and identifying problem areas before a disaster hits. Commercial Retrofit, A Division of Titan Contracting Services recommends hiring a structural engineer to determine how well your home is built to withstand natural disasters. 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.

Consider the following projects to help make your home more earthquake-resistant.

1. Brace cripple walls: Cripple walls rest against the foundation and support the floor and exterior walls of a home. Earthquakes can shift cripple walls, so experts recommend bracing them. Add 2-inch by 4-inch boards between the vertical studs at the top and bottom of a cripple wall. Make sure to check with your local building officials to see if you need a permit for this type of work.

2. Bolt sill plates to foundation: Foundation bolting typically means that bolts are added to improve the connections between the wooden framing members of a building and its concrete foundation. Usually this means adding bolts through the piece of wood that lies flat on top of the foundation, referred to as the sill or mudsill, into the concrete. There may be no existing bolts, or the existing bolts may be either weakened or too far apart to be strong enough for earthquake resistance.

3. Build better walls: Whether you plan to build your own home from scratch or retrofit your existing home, you have options for making the walls more earthquake-resistant. If your building plans include masonry infill walls, which tend to collapse in an earthquake, adding steel reinforcements can help avoid significant structural problems. As an alternative, you could leave space between the walls and the building frame, allowing for some drift as the building moves during a quake.

4. Install rounded windows: A building’s framework sways during an earthquake, causing a shift in window frames. As pressure increases, window corners start to crack and chip. You can likely preserve your windows by rounding out the corners.

5. Restrain computers and smaller appliances: Secure your computer and smaller appliances with hook-and-loop material such as Velcro, nylon or elastic cords such as “bungee” cords or adhesive-backed brackets. The restraints should prevent the gadgets from toppling to the floor during tremors.

6. Anchor larger equipment, appliances and furniture: Take note of larger items such as bookshelves and entertainment centers, as well as ceiling and wall hangings. Use flexible fasteners to secure these items. Also, make sure plumbers installed flexible connectors on all gas appliances. Bolt down large appliances such as the water heater and refrigerator.

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 Thursday, June 27th, 2019.