Things Homeowners Should Check For After The Earthquake

by admin on August 25, 2011

By: admin

This week, Virginia experienced the strongest earthquake on the East coast since 1944

The Geological Survey put the quake in its yellow alert category, meaning there was potential for local damage but relatively little economic damage.

While there have been no reports of any significant damage, we thought we’d pass along a few tips!

The FEMA website lists a few obvious things homeowners should check for after an earthquake.

  • Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
  • Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
  • Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.
  • Inspect the entire length of chimneys for damage. Unnoticed damage could lead to a fire.

Another more serious concern for homeowners, especially of older homes, is structural damage.

Though usually caused by a stronger quake, the Earthquake Retrofit Handbook warns that during an earthquake the shaking of the ground is transferred into the house through its foundation. If the home’s construction is strong enough, it suffers little structural damage. However, if it has a structural weakness the energy of the shaking will focus on that weakness and begin to damage your home.

How can you tell if you may have structural damage?

Check window corners and door casings for diagonal cracks. Also, check your crawl space for ruptured pipes. If door hinges and windows don’t close properly, that could signify a shift in the foundation or framing.

There are many things you can do to make sure your home is prepared for something like this. FEMA has put together some recommendations to get your started.

  • Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.  Fasten top-heavy furniture, bookcases, and appliances to walls.
  • Store bottled foods, glass, china, and other breakables on lower shelves or in cabinets that can be fastened shut.
  • Secure your water heater by strapping it to the wall studs and bolting it to the floor.
  • Evaluate and repair pre-existing structural issues, such as cracked foundations. If the foundation is secure and fully intact, bolt the house to it.
  • Store hazardous materials such as pesticides or flammable products in closed cabinets, which are close to the ground.
  • Hang heavy items away from where people sit or sleep.
  • Know where and how to shut off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves.

If you think you have an issue with your home or would like Moss to come out and review your home for you, please feel free to contact Moss Home Services at 703-961-7707 and we will come out and give you a free assessment.

To learn more, please visit:

East Coast Earthquake Preparedness Information

U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards Program


Tagged as: Home Remodeling