Los Angeles Earthquake Retrofits and Hazards from Recent Rain Storms

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Los Angeles Earthquake Retrofits and Hazards from Recent Rain Storms | Tri Span Environmental

After a decade of punishing drought, Los Angeles is finally getting significant rainfall this season. While all this rain is welcome in Southern California lakes and reservoirs, there are also some undesirable consequences coming in with the storms, like failing hillsides and suddenly appearing sinkholes in roads.

All this rain has some people wondering if so much water could also increase Los Angeles earthquake hazards. They wonder if the large amounts of water seeping into the ground could act as a lubricant, unleashing earthquakes in the future. Happily, most scientists seem to agree that local earthquake faults are too deep underground to be affected by groundwater, but earthquakes are common in California anyway, and all buildings should be reinforced to withstand large tremors, no matter what the weather is like.

Tri Span Environmental Does Earthquake Retrofitting

Many buildings in the Los Angeles area are not adequately built to withstand a major earthquake, but improvements can be made to make these buildings more resistant to movements of the earth. There are several methods for making an older building less likely to collapsing in a major quake.

Before the 1950s, buildings were not attached to their foundations with bolts. Builders figured the weight of the building was enough to keep it in place, and it is unless there is an earthquake. Bolting a building to its foundation can be done retroactively by drilling holes into the bottom framing plate and into the concrete beneath and then inserting an expansion bolt.

Doing this is one of the most important parts of earthquake retrofitting in the Los Angeles area, but it is only the first step. Assuring that the walls of the building are adequately braced against lateral movement is the other important step in retrofitting a building for earthquake safety in Los Angles.

To do this, critical load-bearing walls are identified by structural engineers, and then plywood paneling is installed on these walls to reinforce against shaking. Walls are then patched and repainted, and the strengthened wall underneath becomes invisible.

Large, open spans in garage doors and carports are other parts of Los Angeles buildings in need of earthquake upgrading. In these situations, plywood sheer-walls are often augmented with custom designed steel brackets and heavy-duty bolts to keep framing members ridged in the event of an earthquake.

Recent rains are not likely to bring on extra earthquakes, but the chances of ‘the big one’ coming soon are still high. Contact Tri Span Environmental and find out more about Los Angeles earthquake retrofits for your building.