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How To Quake Proof Your Home

Does Your Home Have The Necessary Earthquake Protection? We live in an area that has one of the highest risks for earthquakes as you well know. Seismic activity surrounds us more than you may realize and the potential for major home damage during an earthquake is real. Whether you are buying or building a home, or planning to live in your current home, one of the most important things you can do for the safety of your family, is to make sure the house is structurally sound. You need to quake proof your existing house and can probably do some of the work yourself. Here are some helpful guidelines and an interesting VIDEO about California earth quakes.

First, before we get to the tips, here are some information resources you may find interesting, if not useful.
The U.S. Geological Survey web site provides an index map of California's recent earthquakes within the last week, the last day and even the last hour. See what's happening in your area
The same web site also offers earthquake probability studies for the Bay Area. The most recent studies conclude that there is a 62% or 63% probability of at least one magnitude 6.7 or better quake striking the Bay area capable of widespread damage within the next twenty years or so. 

So its time to get started. Working with Simpson Strong-Tie, here are their critical product recommendations for new homes or retrofits  Dolan's features SIMPSON Strong Tie products and our home improvement experts are ready to help you. If you have questions, don't hesitate contacting your nearest Dolan's location.

Remember to follow your "How To Bud" on Twitter!  And, if you have some helpful tips or any comments regarding earthquake protection or preparation, please include them in the comments area provided at the bottom of this page.

  1. Start with the foundation, the area most vulnerable to damage during an earthquake. Have it checked by an expert.
  2. Older concrete or brick foundations are extremely dangerous. Wood members underneath the house should be checked for rot and termite damage.
  3. Complete any necessary repairs and anchor the mudsill to the foundation before you start other retrofitting. To resist damage from side-to-side movement, 3/8" CDX plywood sheathing is preferred.
  4. Use holdowns to prevent uplift. Be sure to connect your house floor-to-floor. The cripple wall should be connected to the first floor, the first floor to the second and so on.
  5. Use Simpson framing anchors and/or straps secured to the studs. Roof connections help protect the overall structure during both earthquakes and high winds. Be sure you ask us for Simpson Hurricane and Seismic Ties.
  6. Other steps you should take include reinforcing your chimney and bracing heavy items like water heaters, furniture, cabinets, bookcases and major appliances.
  7. Prepare emergency supplies for first aid and stock up on non-perishable foods and drinking water. Make sure you have emergency supplies for your pets.

No one can guarantee that a structure will withstand every earthquake, but proper retrofitting can help minimize the damage and provide more safety. The Simpson-Tie Checklist below will help you determine whether your house is properly connected and reinforced to withstand an earthquake.


Simpson Strong-Tie's Homeowner Checklist

  • Wood walls around the perimeter of the home are secured to the foundation (the strongest part of the home) using anchors, bolts, sill plate connectors and holdowns
  • Beams and joists are joined together with metal connectors and fasteners (the critical stress points within the frame of a home are where two pieces of framing material meet)
  • Metal connectors are added between roof and floor members and wall top plates * Metal strap ties or holdowns are used to connect the second floor to the first floor
  • Post-to-beam connections are reinforced with metal connectors
  • Minor foundation wall cracks are repaired with epoxy

Not all structural products are alike or code-approved. We feature Simpson because they manufacture high quality metal connectors, anchors, fasteners and shearwalls that meet or exceed all code requirements.

Please note: The above illustration is courtesy of Simpson Strong-Tie and is intended for educational purposes only. Please consult a licensed structural engineer, a contractor and/or prescriptive guidelines provided by your local code jurisdiction.

Visit any of Dolan's five Bay Area locations for more information.