Post-Earthquake Examination

Post-Earthquake Examination: How Your House Might be Damaged

There’s always a feeling of relief after experiencing an earthquake, but you shouldn’t be complacent. Any earthquake, no matter how small mild or severe it is, is more than enough reason to inspect the structural integrity of your house. It might have survived, but you can’t always say the same when aftershocks hit.

If you need a comprehensive evaluation of your property, or if your house has shifted or tilted after an earthquake, you can contact professional house foundation contractors. You can also assess the impact by going over these post-earthquake evaluation pointers.

Exterior

Instinctively, the first thing people check after an earthquake is if the exteriors of their house. Survey if any part of the structure collapsed or sustained any damage by checking for cracks on foundation walls or separation between blocks and mortar. Afterward, look for any shifts or slight slopes by checking where stairs and joints meet the foundation.

You should also inspect the roof and chimney for separated flashing, wall trim, or cracked bricks or mortar.

Interior

Inside the house, you can feel the effects of an earthquake if the floor has an inconspicuous slope or an abnormally softer pressure when you walk over it. Your ceilings might have also bulged or sagged. Prioritize fixing the plasters to avoid a possible collapse. Check windows and doors, as well. All windows and doors should open without issues if the earthquake didn’t shake them out of alignment.

If you have a fireplace, check for fallen mortar, clay, or grit, and see if the hearth, firebox, and chimney hood have shifted from the base.

Other levels

In your basement, check if large beams and columns are leaning towards one side, or if their ends have separated from their pockets in foundation walls.

In the attic, check for loose joints, cracked or broken trusses, and rafters that have twisted off of the ridge board. A recent earthquake may have also caused leaks, so don’t forget to look for signs of moisture beneath the roof decking.

Plumbing

Speaking of leaks, your plumbing system may have also taken a hit. See if your supply pipes, drain pipes, and intake pipes still work by testing everything that uses water: showers, bathroom and kitchen faucets, toilets, and yard hoses. If any of these indicate a problem like a sluggish flush or a phantom drip, it may be an indication that your main supply or drain pipe has suffered damage. If a pipe is visibly leaking, re-apply sealants or replace the pipe section.

pipe

Electrical

After an earthquake, if any of the lights are flickering, or electrical appliances don’t seem to function normally,  then shut off your main power circuit immediately. This might indicate damaged electrical wiring. Know the extent of the problem by going outside and seeing if any service lines are irregularly sagging across power poles. If it is, call your electricity provider or a professional electrician to check and repair the problem accordingly.

Also, your main junction box might be in the same area as your main gas valve. If you smell a faint gas leak, you should turn that valve off, too.

Heating and cooling

Lastly, make sure your water heater units and fuel or propane tanks are still intact. Check if overhead air-conditioners have shifted out of their braces and if ductworks are still fastened firmly through walls. Inspect the intake and exhaust vents, as well as appliance flues and ducts, for possible damage.

While you can do a rapid evaluation yourself, never attempt to execute the solution yourself. Contact the appropriate contractor to do a more thorough investigation and perform the proper fix.

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