Improving the Structural Integrity Of Your Home

Improving the Structural Integrity Of Your Home

Improving the Structural Integrity Of Your Home

Do you live in a earthquake zone? Have you ever wondered how your home or business might fare in the event of a catastrophic seismic event? More than ever before, improving the structural integrity of your home or business should be a paramount concern. While it’s true that you cannot totally prevent the damage that might occur during a devastating seismic event, having your home bolstered by structural improvements can greatly decrease the amount of damage your home suffers in such an event. To understand the best way to protect your home or business against a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, it might be helpful to examine what forces come into play in a devastating disaster. Basically, there are 4 types of earthquakes that can occur.

Structural Integrity Damage From Tectonic Plates Shifting

With Tectonic earthquakes, extremely strong forces push against both sides of the fault line, causing the earth’s plates to move. They shift in either a side to side motion or one plate sliding over the other, in a vertical overlapping fashion. Obviously, any structure in the vicinity of the shift will move as well. Damage from this type of earth movement causes walls to collapse, if not supported properly as in these examples.

Improving the Structural Integrity Of Your Home
Improving the Structural Integrity Of Your Home

But How Can I Improve My Home’s Structural Integrity?

To be honest, improving a home or business’s structural integrity is not a project for the Do-It-Yourselfer. Because of the technical requirements with regard to bearing load and force coefficients, only a licensed professional with years of experience should be entrusted to your upgrade project. That being said, it is important to understand what is entailed in bolstering your home or business’s structural integrity. If your home was built prior to 1980, chances are you have no additional structural support in your walls. Building codes and specifications have come a long way in the last ten to fifteen years. For more information about bolstering your home or business to mitigate the damages of a potential earthquake, refer to the FEMA Earthquake Mitigation Handbook.

Some Sound Structural Solutions You Should Consider

Anchor Sill Plate Reinforcements

structural integrity

Improving the Structural Integrity Of Your Home

During an earthquake, a building can shift on the foundation if its sill plate is not anchored to the foundation. Sill plates should be bolted or otherwise anchored to the building foundation. Bolts long enough to pass through the sill plate and penetrate several inches into the foundation should be installed every few feet along the exterior walls. (FEMA Earthquake Mitigation Handbook)

In homes that are older, for example, historical registry homes, you are often limited in the types of reconstruction you can perform. In these situations it is still possible to reinforce the walls using a bracing technique as shown below.

Improving the Structural Integrity Of Your HomeReinforcing Cripple Walls

What is a cripple wall? Well, you usually find them in homes without basements. A Cripple Wall is the 1 1/2 to 2 foot wall that raises the home up from the foundation. The purpose of the wall is to allow for access to critical electrical, gas and plumbing lines that occasionally may need maintenance. The reason this wall is bolstered is due to it’s vulnerability during a seismic event. By adding metal braces, studs and steel plates, these structures can become a very effective way to guard against the destructive forces caused by earthquake activity.

Hold-Downs and Other Anchoring Systems

Hold-downs are used to provide added seismic strength. Hold-downs secure a wall’s bottom plate to the foundation via bolts into a wall post and an anchor bolt into the foundation. It is recommended to add hold-downs when you have sufficient room to drill for them. Construction hardware manufacturers such as Simpson Strong-Tie also make many straps and anchors to attach plates and floor joists to sills and foundations. These straps or anchors can be attached six or 12 inches apart on sills and at every joist to significantly increase an old house’s seismic resistance.structural integrity

Improving the Structural Integrity Of Your Home

Why Hiring a Professional Contractor is so Important

As was stated earlier, reinforcing the structural integrity of your home is no easy task. When dealing with the structural framework there are so many things that can go disastrously wrong. When you trust your reconstruction project to a licensed and bonded general contractor you protect yourself in so many ways.

As was stated earlier, reinforcing the structural integrity of your home is no easy task. When dealing with the structural framework there are so many things that can go disastrously wrong. When you trust your reconstruction project to a licensed and bonded general contractor you protect yourself in so many ways.

Structural Integrity

Because your contractor is licensed you know that he has all the required experience and know how to do the job correctly. It is still a good idea to inquire as to your contractor’s experience in structural support mitigation, however. When in doubt, check it out.

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