Out of all the states in the continental U.S., the state with the most earthquakes is California. And if you live in the Los Angeles area, you know the San Fernando Valley is prone to quakes, both large and small. No matter what the earthquake registers numerically, even a small one can cause structural damage.
Buildings made of concrete, brick, or cinder blocks can crack during a small quake, leaving them vulnerable to collapse during a large one. If your building was constructed before 1978, or went through an earthquake recently, you will need to have it assessed by a professional to make sure it is safe and secure.
First Step, Hire a Qualified Inspector
While you might be tempted to hire your buddy who runs his own general contracting business, this is not a good idea. You need to find a company that offers structural engineers. These professionals are trained to visually check buildings for damage and they have tests they use to if your building is safe to go back in after a quake occurs. Find a reliable Soft Story Retrofitting company, who will send out a contractor to do an assessment and let you know if there are any repairs that need to be made.
Damaged Structures Should Be Immediately Abandoned
If your inspector determines that your building poses a risk to life they will condemn it till repairs can be made. If this happens, it is super important that tenants or employees stay out of the building, this may require a fence around the building to keep people and animals out.
If Possible, Check for Structural Damage
If it is safe to do so, you can do a quick check while you are waiting for the inspector to arrive. Look for tilting, ceilings moving, or cracks around the base of the building. If you see any of these things, you should call the local authorities immediately so they can help you to take the appropriate measures.
Always Cooperate With the Inspector
Whether the inspector is from the city, or a professional that you have hired, you will want to cooperate with them during the assessment. Make sure to give them any information they need before they enter the structure, this could include any damage you have noticed or are aware of. Also let them know if you have seen any changes, like further tilting.
Listen to Their Recommendations
After the assessment is complete, it is very important that you follow the suggestions of the structural engineer. Don’t just listen, take the necessary steps to repair your building and bring it up to current safety standards. Paying out of pocket now can save you more in the future.
If you need concrete repaired, a soft story retrofit or another earthquake damage related service, call Retrofitting 360 for more information.