Earthquake Safety in Los Angeles Areas

What is your insurance and inspection question?

I recently sat down with Dawn James of the Brevidoro Agency and Farmers Insurance to discuss Earthquake Safety. Living in Southern California, being prepared for an Earthquake is an essential part of the home inspection process.

A main concern I look at at on a home inspection is if the gas meter has a seismic shut valve. A seismic shut off vale will cut off the gas supply to the house, which eliminates the chance of a gas leak in the house after an earthquake. And by eliminating gas leaks, the chance of a fire is greatly reduced. Fires after an earthquake can cause more damage than the earthquake itself.

As a certified home inspector, I will also look to see if the water heater has two bracing straps. Strapping a water heater is important to prevent the hot water heater from spilling scalding hot water in the event of an earthquake, and also to prevent the gar line to the water heating from rupturing.

Another concern are earthquake anchor bolts. Los Angeles began requiring houses to be bolted in 1946, but they didn’t start fully enforcing the new code until 1948. If your house has a crawlspace, as a home inspector, I will crawl under the house and look for anchor bolts.

Houses built on slab foundations do not have a crawl space, and anchor bolts are almost always hidden behind the drywall. However, slab construction did not become prevalent until the 1960’s. well after anchor bolts became code. So while anchor bolts are difficult to impossible to see in a home on a slab foundation, it is safe to assume they are more likely there.