Does Your Orange County Building Need an Earthquake Retrofit?

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Does Your Orange County Building Need an Earthquake Retrofit? | Tri Span Environmental

Many older buildings in Orange County were built before current building codes were developed. This means some buildings are significantly under-built or under-designed for surviving a major earthquake. Tri Span Environmental has the engineering experience and expertise for determining whether a home or business needs an earthquake retrofit and then performing upgrades to meet current earthquake engineering requirements.

Tri Span Environmental Earthquake Retrofits in Orange County

Protecting a building from structural damage during an earthquake starts by assuring the building is firmly attached to the concrete foundation it rests on. This is done with anchor bolts that hold the bottom wooden framing members to the concrete below. When anchor bolts were not installed during construction, as is often the case with homes over about 50 years old, these bolts can be installed retroactively by Tri Span Environmental technicians by drilling through the wooden bottom plate and into the concrete and installing an expansion bolt.

In some cases, anchor bolts were installed during construction, but they are undersized or spaced too infrequently to provide the necessary force to hold the building down in a large earthquake. In this case, additional bolts can be installed, and larger washers can be used to strengthen the connection between building and foundation.

Another vital part of earthquake retrofits in Orange County and Southern California as a whole is in providing sufficient sheer strength in walls for resisting the enormous horizontal forces exerted in a big quake. Sheer walls are created and strengthened by adding plywood panels in strategic corners and load bearing areas and securing them with a tight nailing schedule. Such sheer walls are often installed on the short, cripple walls under the main floor and also in critical areas in other parts of the building as needed.

Large openings under upper story rooms are another area where earthquake retrofitting is often needed in Orange County buildings. This ‘soft-story’ construction is created when a garage, entryway, or other large opening is located under an apartment or other upper story structure. This construction is especially vulnerable to lateral forces and collapse during an earthquake. In cases like this, retrofitting by Tri Span Environmental often involves installation of heavy metal brackets and sheer panels on walls adjacent to the soft-story opening.

If you have concerns about the earthquake readiness of your Orange County property, contact Tri Span Environmental for a consultation and estimate for a structural retrofit.