Utahans recently experienced the most intense earthquake since 1992. A 5.7 earthquake near Magna, Utah, and over 100 smaller aftershocks left the state startled. Earthquakes aren’t unique to Utah, but this one is causing many to panic and brush up on their emergency preparedness skills.
Unfortunately, many homeowners saw how an unexpected earthquake could turn everything upside down in an instant. Whether water heaters broke, cupboards flew open, or you didn’t notice anything, you will still need to give your residence a once over before resuming your daily activities.
The chances are that you didn’t learn what to do after an earthquake, only how to behave during one. If you grew up in Utah or anywhere near a fault line, you probably remember running earthquake drills in grade school, hiding under your desk or doorway. That is excellent advice to follow during the earthquake and for a while after one. But when the dust settles, what should you do next?
Experts say this earthquake is a call for better preparedness for everyone in the state. Here is what the All Hours Plumbing, Heating & Air team of licensed technicians in Utah advise you to check as soon as possible:
1. Examine Your Foundation
The first item you should check is your home’s foundation. Grab some sturdy shoes and head outside. You can first take a look at the exterior of your home, looking for cracks. Since the foundation is crucial to its integrity, any noticeable cracks should be inspected by a professional.
Our team suggests shining a light on large cracks. You might be able to see if the crack runs through the wall. If these cracks are over ¼ inch or you can see them lead into the reinforced steel inside a wall, get everyone out of the building. Then, call our 24/7 emergency technicians to get the crack, and your entire foundation examined and repaired.
2. Check for Any Gas Leaks
If your foundation is not compromised, then you should check for any gas leaks. Roughly, one in four fires after an earthquake is related to a gas leak. If you experienced a power outage in your area, you should check to see if your furnace is working correctly. After an earthquake occurs, you should also check the location of all your utility valves. Make sure nothing flammable has fallen or spilled near the gas appliance.
Do NOT turn off any gas valves unless you smell gas or hear the valve hissing. If you must turn it off, immediately contact our licensed technicians. These professional will restore your system to normal before switching it back on. You can also ask them to perform an air test after repairing a leak. These air tests pressurize your entire home, looking for any changes.
One handy way you can check for gas leaks is by using Windex or dish soap in a spray bottle, shake it up, get it bubbly, and spray it on your gas line fittings. This trick isn’t a tactic you should use lightly. We recommend calling one of our technicians who understands plumbing inside and out if you suspect any leakage.
3. Check Your Water Meter
Another item to check after an earthquake is your water meter. Earthquake shock waves can slam into your plumbing system, causing a burst or leak. No matter the age of your property, an earthquake can cause structural problems to your plumbing. Keep an eye on your water meter for a few days. You can check your water meter by shutting off everything in your house and going outside. If the meter is spinning, there is most likely a leak.
Any unexplained changes could indicate a plumbing problem. As well as your water meter, you should pay attention to your water line. Any leaks around your water line require professional care. You should inspect your water line and the area around it for any persistent puddles or wet spots. If anything seems abnormal, give an experienced professional a call. These technicians will help diagnose any water meter or water line problems.
4. Check Your Sewer and Drainage
Just as you checked your water meter and water line, you should pay attention to your sewer and drainage. This measure is especially helpful for homes built on sandy soil, including Magna and Sandy, Utah. An earthquake can shift plumbing appliances, which could compromise your entire plumbing system.
If you are residing on sedimentary soil or live in a home built before 1980, our experts recommend getting a camera inspection on your sewage line. Even if you already had your plumbing replaced, it is a precautionary measure that can help stop further damage.
Other things you should look out for include water spots on your walls or water on the bathroom floor. These symptoms indicate more severe damage to your plumbing. However, less noticeable signs like fluctuating water pressure, dripping noises, and gurgles in the toilet can also indicate issues.
It would be best if you also kept an eye out for the area around your sewer main. Foul odors, a sudden growth of surrounding grassy area or shrubbery, or persistent puddles, should give you cause to worry. Contact an All Hours Plumbing, Heating & Air professional, and we will repair any damage within no time.
5. Be Ready for the Next Earthquake
Last but not least, remember to brush up on your emergency preparedness. Minor earthquakes happen every day. It would be best if you had everything in place for when these bigger quakes occur. Right now, is as good as time as any to make a plan with your family. You should also put together an updated kit that includes the following items:
o Fire Extinguisher
o Battery-Powered Radio
o First Aid Kit
There are also specific measures and codes in place to keep your plumbing safe during unprecedented events like an earthquake, including proper gas line straps, water heater straps, gas line connections, and more. Now is the time to take action. Work with one of our licensed professionals, and we will help install a safer plumbing system in your home.
DIY is not the way to go in these instances. You need someone who can properly check, diagnose, and fix whatever comes your way. Our licensed contractors have the experience and knowledge to work on your entire home’s gas, water, and sewage systems.
Earthquake Preparedness with All Hours Plumbing, Heating & Air
All Hours Plumbing, Heating & Air is here day and night to help you feel safe in your home. As a full-service plumber and HVAC contractor in SLC County, Utah County, Davis County, and Park City. Call us today at (385) 269-8463. We are here to keep your home safe and secure during this unsettling time. Contact us to schedule an appointment with our residential and commercial technicians.