Urgent News for Property Owners from Wolf Technical Services, Inc. on Earthquake Inspections

Damage from earthquakes can be found hundreds of miles from the epicenter and weeks after quake. Local expert urges property owners to inspect property for signs of damage using FEMA guidelines.

Indianapolis, IN, May 09, 2008 --(PR.com)-- Some residents were jostled awake almost two weeks ago to rattling beds, falling knick-knacks and pets gone wild – while others slept through an Illinois earthquake.

But property owners could find themselves more heavily impacted by the 5.2-magnitude earthquake than what they had originally thought - and signs of that impact could be appearing now.

Since a mid-April earthquake, almost 30 aftershocks have emanated from the West Salem, Ill. area. The latest aftershock – just a little over a week ago - registered a 3.7 magnitude tremor and geologists are predicting the mild aftershocks will continue. What homeowners and residents might not have taken into consideration is how the earth’s rolling and pitching movements during the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks can affect buildings and structures.

Gary Chambers, a civil engineer for Wolf Technical Services, Inc., said the biggest threat from an earthquake hundreds of miles away is the subtle damage which, if left unrepaired, can lead to more serious problems.
“It doesn’t take much of a crack to get water into your house and it’s not something you might notice immediately,” Chambers said.

With more than 30 years in construction and engineering design, Chambers knows how a crack can allow “bad stuff” to happen. He said homeowners living closer to the epicenter will have more noticeable damage, but if a homeowner felt the quake, so did the structure and making sure there isn’t damage is a good idea.

“Those cracks can lead to water damage, and with it mold which could be more of a prevalent problem in this area,” he said.

According to FEMA, walls can separate and cracks can begin to form for several weeks after an earthquake.

FEMA has provided a list to check for damage after an earthquake to make sure a building has not been structurally compromised. Chambers recommends homeowners check the following FEMA warning signs for earthquake damage:
• When looking at the house from a distance, does it look tilted?
• Do you see severe cracks or openings between the structure and outdoor steps or porches?
• Do you experience increased vibrations from passing trucks and buses?
• Are the power lines to your home noticeably sagging?
• Are doors and windows more difficult to open?
• Is the roof leaking since the earthquake?
• Do you experience unexplained draftiness?

Another area that can pose unseen dangers after a mild earthquake is the chimney. Chambers said that if there is a crack in the firebox of the chimney or the chimney liner the hot gas can escape into the framing of the house and cause the house to catch on fire.

Chambers recommends homeowners have a qualified chimney sweep inspect the interior of a chimney if they suspect there is a problem.

Wolf Technical Services, Inc., has been a leader in forensic engineering and research for more than 30 years. Based in Indianapolis, their team of professional experts specialize in various areas of the construction industry including investigations of property losses, evaluations and consultations, building code and standards compliance, civil engineering and building failure analysis.

For more information about Wolf, please visit them on the Internet at www.wolftechnical.com.

Wolf Technical Services, Inc.
Joe Ward
(800) 783-9653