Is your house damaged? What to look for after earthquake rattles Alaska

Published: Dec. 3, 2018 at 7:37 PM AKST
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After Friday's 7.0-magnitude earthquake, and more than 1,400 aftershocks, many homeowners in Southcentral Alaska are concerned with the condition of their houses. Certified home inspectors are seeing an increase in calls, and in some cases, they've spotted damaged that would typically be overlooked.

According to Jim Foss, with Best Inspection, Inc., an earthquake's impact on your home may not always be obvious, and paying attention to little signs can save a lot of trouble in the long run.

"First we look for loose fittings. Things like gas, water pipes, your electricity meter -- anything that could initially go unnoticed and cause additional damage later on," said Foss.

You can use your senses, smelling for gas leaks and feeling for dampness if you want to try to determine whether or not there might be an issue with loose fittings.

Stress cracks are also common after powerful earthquakes and typically won't be an issue, but Foss says that larger cracks can develop into a serious problem.

Home inspectors look for these cracks above doors and on the ceiling and typically smaller ones aren't a huge problem.

"Anything a quarter of an inch or larger, we follow down through into the next floor and possibly into the crawl space. We can usually determine if the stress has caused any significant structural damage," said Foss.

If you have any concerns or doubts about the safety of your home, an inspector could be the first step to addressing those concerns and gaining peace of mind.

Foss also recommends that even after your first inspection, you repeat the check routine for about a week or so to make sure aftershocks haven't shaken anything loose.