How To Check Your House For Damages After Earthquake Hits
OKLAHOMA CITY - A 4.7 magnitude earthquake shook Oklahoma early Saturday morning, less than 24 hours later, another record-breaking 5.6 earthquake struck again.
Many of us are wondering if our houses have suffered any damages from earthquakes, but what do we look for in this case? Will damages show up later?
We gathered some information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Here is a checklist on what to look for inside and outside your house to see if it had suffered damages from the earthquake.
1. Check The External House Structure:
• Survey all portions of your house to see if any part collapsed or sustained damage.
• Check to see if the house shifted on its foundation, or fell away from the foundation in any place.
• Check to see if the house is noticeably leaning, or looks tilted from a distance.
• Look for severe cracks or openings, especially around outdoor steps or porches.
• If inside the house, check to see if you are experiencing seriously increased vibrations from passing trucks and buses.
• Look for cracks in external walls. Check to see if existing cracks in the walls are getting bigger.
• Check to see if mortars are separating from the blocks.
• Look for sink holes or large divots in the ground next to the foundation.
2. Check The Chimneys:
• Look for cracks between the chimney and the exterior wall or the roof.
• Look for cracks in the liner.
• Check to see if there is unexplained debris in the fireplace.
3. Check Utilities:
• Check to see if power lines to your house are noticeably sagging.
• Check to see if hot water heater is leaning or tilted.
• Check to see if all the water connections, dry-pipes, toilets, faucets are secure.
4. Check the Inside Of the House:
• Check to see if doors and windows are harder to open, and if doors do not shut properly.
• Check to see if the roof is leaking. Look for water damage to the ceiling.
• Check to see 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 to see if the floor is separated from walls or stairwells inside the house.
• Look for cracks between walls and built-in fixtures such as lights, cupboards or bookcases.
• Look for gaps around plumbing pipes that exit the foundation wall.
According to FEMA, the effects of an earthquake are sometimes slow to appear. Residents are urged to inspect their homes for damages that may have just come to light. Officials said walls can separate and cracks start to form weeks after the earthquake strikes.
FEMA officials said earthquake damages can be subtle as well. If not fixed in time, cracks between the walls can allow water to leak in and cause serious problems in the future, for example, rotting wood or a problem with mold. A structure that has shifted from its foundation leaves unsupported areas weakened and liable to break away.
If you discover problems in your house caused by the earthquakes, you may contact your local emergency management agencies. Also, send your pictures of earthquake damages to your house at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.