Earthquake Risk & Damage: Understanding the Basics

Posted October 17, 2022, under Blog

Earthquakes are a very real threat in Los Angeles – and if you own a home in Southern California, it’s important to stay vigilant about earthquake safety and preparedness.

While there are necessary steps you can take to prepare the interior of your home for earthquakes – in the form of having an emergency disaster kit, securing large pieces of furniture to your walls, and having an evacuation route planed – it’s the structure of your home that is the most critical during a large quake.

That’s because most older homes in Southern California have been built with outdated building and safety codes and are lacking the modern safeguards necessary to withstand the shaking from a large earthquake.

As we saw during the Northridge quake, the most common types of earthquake damage are as follows:

  • Cripple wall shearing and collapse. The walls around a crawl space under the home can shear (lean) or collapse if not correctly braced.
  • Improperly bolted houses sliding off their foundations.
  • Damaged electrical or gas lines. These can cause fires and even explosions if not handled immediately.
  • Unsecured furniture and appliances falling and causing damage to the home or bodily injury.
  • Chimneys can separate at the roof line, collapse, and fall over.
  • Windows can crack or shatter. Windows with rounded corners are less likely to break, though not as common or readily available.
  • Uprooted trees or broken branches falling on the house. Trees can cause a lot of damage if they fall on your home. Consider removing trees that are too close to the home or would be at risk of falling over.

While most earthquake damage is caused by shaking, the intensity of the shaking depends on three main factors:

  1. The magnitude of the earthquake—in general, the bigger the earthquake, the more intense the shaking and the bigger the area affected.
  2. The distance from the earthquake—the closer to the origination point, the more intense the shaking.
  3. The type of ground material beneath the structure—different soil types can accentuate or minimize movement during an earthquake.

When it comes to earthquake preparedness, you should always have an earthquake emergency kit located in your home and office with enough food, water, medication, and first aid supplies to last you and everyone in your household at least 3 days.

In addition to an emergency disaster kit, an easy DIY interior earthquake retrofit can be done around your home by mounting large pieces of furniture to your walls and securing cabinets with latches.

Finally, you’ll want to have your property inspected by a foundation specialist, especially if it’s over 20 years old, to check the condition of the home’s foundation and install any needed earthquake retrofits to the structure.

“You shouldn’t have to worry about whether your home will be safe in the event of an earthquake. You should rest easy, knowing your home rests on a structurally sound foundation. We can inspect your home to find out what steps are needed to get it there. We offer free foundation inspections, and for those with a higher cripple wall, we can review plans or obtain the engineering necessary for your project,” says Julian De La Torre, founder and owner of Julian Construction.

If you think your home is in need of earthquake retrofitting, foundation repair, house leveling, and/or foundation replacement, 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.

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