5 Ways to Earthquake Retrofit a Vulnerable Structure
As a homeowner an earthquake retrofit is an invaluable investment. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, 143 million Americans live in a potential earthquake-prone region.
And because California is considered to be “earthquake country” an earthquake retrofit isn’t just suggested for most structures in our Golden State, it’s an essential home improvement to protect the property and those who reside there.
The U.S.G.S. estimates that there are 30,646,165 people in California who are currently exposed to extreme earthquakes. Therefore, unless you’re living in a newly built house (20 years or less), your property is most likely at risk for extreme earthquake shaking, and lacking the structural reinforcements to protect it.
Here are 5 ways you can earthquake retrofit a property:
- Upgrading glass windows to laminated or tempered glass: Regular glass windows are not flexible enough to withstand strong shaking from a large earthquake. To avoid excess destruction and danger, upgrading your glass windows to those that are tempered or laminated is something to think about if you own a home with a lot of windows. You can also add a transparent film to your windows as an alternative to switching out all of your windows which holds the glass pieces together if they break.
- Secure & reinforce the foundation: If you own a home, you’ve probably heard that the foundation is the most important element of the property. And it’s true. The foundation is what holds the entire weight of the structure. But like most things in life, foundations can degrade with time which makes them more at risk for damage from uneven soil settlement, moisture intrusion, earth movement, and shoddy workmanship. To secure a foundation, a foundation company will install additional hardware, in the form of foundation/anchor bolts, to the structure. Bolting the house to the foundation is the process of drilling holes through the sill plate which is located between the house and the foundation before installing anchor bolts. By today’s standards, building codes require every house to be affixed to the foundation with bolts, which was not previously mandatory for older homes.
- Cripple Wall Bracing: If your home sits atop a raised foundation, cripple wall bracing may be used to secure the foundation. Most modern homes are not built with a cripple wall because they are not strong enough to withstand intense seismic shaking. Thus, if you have a home with this type of foundation, earthquake retrofitting is extremely important to secure the foundation and protect the property. For this type of retrofit, a foundation specialist will add additional reinforcement to the cripple wall in the form of plywood to brace the structure.
- Soft-story retrofitting: For apartment buildings that were constructed with a “soft story,” which is a vulnerable first floor (think carport or tuck under parking), this method requires additional hardware such as steel or plywood to reinforce and frame any load bearing beams and/or walls. Most regions of California have mandated soft story retrofits because these types of structures are extremely dangerous to be in during an earthquake. And as we saw with the Northridge earthquake, many of these buildings collapsed from the side-to-side of the shaking of the quake.
- Understanding how to shut off utility and gas lines: Fires are common with large earthquakes because broken gas pipes can set an entire structure in flames. Modern gas lines are less rigid and allow for some movement, so it’s worth checking what type of gas line your home has. Most importantly, it’s crucial to know where your gas shut off valve is and to have an automatic system installed. Seismic gas valves will automatically shut off the gas main during earthquakes that are a 5.4 magnitude or higher.
If you think your home is in need of foundation repair, house leveling, foundation replacement and/or earthquake retrofitting, contact Julian Construction today and we will send one of our foundation specialists out to conduct a free, thorough inspection with a quote for repair.
We have extensive experience serving our Los Angeles community and nearby regions. In fact, Julian Construction has inspected over 30,000 structures in the area!
Julian Construction was formed in 1994 and our focus has always been on building and maintaining foundations, doing foundation repair and replacement, earthquake retrofitting, and house leveling.
When you work with Julian Construction, you get the principles of the company and the workers of Julian Construction under your home.
And in order to keep foundation repair affordable for our customers, we offer a price guarantee — because we know our quote for repair will represent your very best value.
Give us a call at (323) 733-3377 to schedule your free inspection or complete the inspection request form.