When people think of Kansas, what frequently comes to mind is Wheat fields, the Wizard of Oz and Tornados. As Kansans we have learned to take precautions to limit damages from the weather and have become increasingly efficient in recovering from a storm’s aftermath. However, the Midwest is now faced with a new form of natural disaster; Earthquakes! While we haven’t experienced the level of earthquake damage here that we hear about in some regions, it doesn’t mean we are free from damages altogether.
Two important questions come to mind:
1) What kinds of earthquake damage might be caused by these tremors and
2) What we can do to protect ourselves and our property?
According to FEMA, (Federal Emergency Management Agency) the effects of an earthquake are not always seen immediately. The signs of damage can sometimes be slow to appear. Officials report that a building’s walls can separate and cracks can begin to form weeks after an earthquake strikes. While these cracks may seem like just minor issues in need of cosmetic repairs, if not fixed in time, these cracks can allow moisture to find its way in and cause more serious problems. Earthquake damages may include obvious leaks leaving puddles and wet areas, or it may allow moisture to seep in undetected which can lead to wood rot and mold growth. This threatens not only your property but the safety and health of your family as well.
In order to minimize damages, it is important to closely inspect your home both inside and outside and get needed repairs made in a timely fashion. Here are some guidelines recommended by FEMA for what homeowners should be looking for in the days and weeks following an earthquake:
CHECK YOUR HOME’S EXTERNAL STRUCTURE:
- Survey all portions of your house to see if any part has collapsed or sustained obvious damage.
- Check if the house has shifted on its foundation or has fallen away from the foundation in any place or if the foundation has bulges or curves in it.
- Visually check if the house is noticeably leaning, or looks tilted from a distance.
- Look for severe cracks or openings, especially around outdoor steps or porches.
- While inside the house, take note if you are experiencing seriously increased vibrations from passing trucks and buses.
- Look for cracks in external walls. Check to see if existing cracks are getting bigger.
- Check if mortars are separating from the blocks.
- Look for sink holes or large divots in the ground next to the foundation.
- Look for cracks between the chimney and exterior wall or roof of home.
CHECK THE INTERIOR OF YOUR HOME:
- See if doors and windows are harder to open, and if doors do not shut properly.
- Check if the roof is leaking. Look for water damage to the ceiling.
- Check if the furnace has shifted in any way, and if ducts and exhaust pipes are connected and undamaged.
- If inside the house, check to see if you are experiencing unexplained draftiness. Look for cracks in the walls, poorly aligned window frames, and loosened exterior siding. They can all let in breezes.
- Check if the floor is separated from walls or stairwells inside the house.
- Look for cracks between walls and built-in fixtures such as cupboards and bookcases. Look for cracks over doorways, windows or where the walls and ceiling meet.
- Look for gaps around plumbing pipes that exit the foundation wall. Look for new or worsening cracks in concrete floors.
- Look for unexplained debris in the fireplace or chimney or cracks in the liner.
- Check Utilities to ensure connections are secure, there are no water leaks, gas odors, or electrical outages or shorts in electrical systems.
Earthquake damage, like tornado and hail damages, is something Kansans will learn how to deal with. You can begin with a strategic effort to maintain the safety and integrity of your home and any other structures on your property. After reports of tremors in your area, make a thorough search of your home to insure there is no new or worsening problem. If you do find cause for concern, contact the appropriate tradesmen to inspect for further damages and get them resolved as quickly as possible. Making timely repairs can prevent additional damages and save you a bundle in the long run!
When hiring a contractor for any repair or remodeling project on your home, we suggest that you use a local company with a history of standing behind their work. Always be sure the companies making repairs are licensed and insured. Ask for references; a reputable company will have them and won’t mind you asking.
Farha HomeTrends, LLC is a premier home remodeling company serving the local Wichita, Ks. area for more than 20 years. We can inspect the damages to your home, make recommendations for and perform repairs, as well as discuss any other remodeling plans you may have. We are licensed, insured and happy to provide references upon request. Please take time to check out our website, view a sampling of our work in the Projects tab, browse our Service Gallery for ideas and read the Testimonials from our satisfied customers. farhahometrends.com/about-home-remodeler/