Ready Your Home for Seismic Activity with TerraFirma
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Homeowners in Washington and Oregon – a seismically active region – face the very real threat of an earthquake. Many older homes in this area have failing foundations that can buckle in an instant, and even minor seismic events can cause your home’s foundation to shift.
TerraFirma Foundation Systems can deliver peace of mind that your home can qualify for earthquake insurance.
Older homes often do not qualify for earthquake insurance unless they have been professionally retrofitted. TerraFirma has seismically retrofitted thousands of houses across the Pacific Northwest and helped homeowners throughout the region qualify their homes for earthquake insurance.
Don’t get caught unprepared. TerraFirma can give your family a safe place to call home.
The older your home, the less likely it is to be prepared for a seismic event. Seismic standards requirements were not put in place until the 1970s, so many older buildings are vulnerable to seismic damage.
In order to know if your home is a good candidate for earthquake retrofitting, evaluate:
- The age of your home
- Your home’s location
- Construction materials of your home
Root Causes of poor
The most common earthquake vulnerabilities in a home are unreinforced brick walls, cripple walls, a lack of sheathing, and a structure that is not bolted to the foundation. Unsecured appliances can also pose a risk of fire due to a broken gas line. TerraFirma can help you address these common structural issues and protect your investment in your home.
Unreinforced Brick or Concrete Block
Brick makes for a beautiful exterior but requires support to absorb the shaking and vibrations of an earthquake. Masonry like brick, tile, adobe, or decorative rock must be reinforced with bracings like rebar to withstand an earthquake. Unsupported load–bearing walls, exteriors, and other structures like chimneys are especially vulnerable to collapse. Mortar, which is used to hold bricks together, is also not strong enough to support a home without reinforcement: Masonry can collapse or peel away from the house, falling on structures, vehicles or people in the immediate surrounding area.
Cripple walls, which are common in houses built before the 1960s, extend from your foundation to beneath the floor of the house and receive the brunt force of an earthquake. Cripple walls are short, vertical wooden boards that support the floor – if you see short wood stud walls enclosing the crawl space of your home, you could have cripple walls. If your house is built on a slab without a crawl space or after 1960, it is unlikely to have cripple walls. In an earthquake, unreinforced cripple walls can sway from side to side or cause the house to fall. Expansion bolts, framing anchors, and foundation bolting can prevent a cripple wall from collapsing during an earthquake.
Lack of Sheathing
Sheathing is a layer of plywood that is nailed over the studs of your home, providing a solid surface upon which to nail tar paper, shingles, and siding. Older homes, particularly those built before 1900, were commonly built without sheathing – clapboard was often nailed directly to wooden frame of the house. In addition to providing much–needed insulation, sheathing keeps the building from shifting in an earthquake.
Does your house rest on a foundation of poured concrete? Was it built before 1975? If so, your home may be secured to the foundation with nails, gravity, and little else. When a home is not secured, an earthquake can cause it to slide off its foundation, rupturing gas lines and causing fires, among other structural damage. A quick visual inspection can often reveal whether your home is secure: Look for thick bolts and anchor plates that connect the frame to the concrete foundation in your crawl space or basement.
The greatest danger posed by an earthquake often isn’t the shaking; rather, it is fire from a ruptured gas line. Because most gas and water lines are rigid, they can be torn from their connection points during an earthquake, and appliance feed lines are particularly susceptible to breakage when unsecured equipment moves during a quake. Strapping your water heater to the wall or floor and installing seismic protection for your gas meter can go a long way toward minimizing damage.
Scheduling a free inspection with your local TerraFirma System Design Specialist is the first step towards preparing your home for an earthquake. Your System Design Specialist will conduct an onsite evaluation of your earthquake retrofitting needs, walking you through every step of the inspection. The specialist will use animations, videos, and images to illustrate the specific solutions we recommend for your home.
Once you are ready to begin earthquake retrofitting, we will collect an upfront deposit, and a Customer Experience Advocate will help you select a start date for your project. Don’t worry about the necessary permits or neighborhood logistics – TerraFirma takes care of it all.
On the big day, you can expect a fully stocked truck with an expert production crew that has been briefed on your specific job. A foreman will lead the crew through the process and serve as a resource to answer any questions.
When the repair work is complete, your foreman will do a thorough final inspection with you. We always ask our clients to leave us a review on Google, Yelp, the BBB, Angie’s List, or Facebook and refer TerraFirma to friends and family who are experiencing problems with their foundations, basements, or crawl spaces.
TerraFirma’s award–winning service and products are backed by extensive warranties that are fully transferable. In the unlikely event that you have a follow–up repair issue, we are here to help. If your solution required a sump pump, drainage system, or anything else that needs upkeep, you may benefit from regular maintenance with the TerraFirma Service Department.