Following recent, widely felt earthquakes, the Earthquake Commission is encouraging homeowners to check the condition of their homes, making sure that their foundations, chimneys, and tall and heavy furniture are secure.
Director Resilience Research, Hugh Cowan, says that summer is also a good time for keeping property well maintained and checking for any changes or work that needs to be done.
“A home that’s properly secured to its foundations will likely experience less damage during an earthquake. If your home has a suspended timber floor, you may be able to go under your house to check foundations are in good condition and that correct fastenings and bracings are in place.”
Anyone who is checking their subfloor needs to take safety precautions before starting any inspection and if you feel at all uncertain about going under your house, ask a licensed building practitioner to carry out a check. They will know how to do this safely, what to look for, and will be able to advise you on what’s required.
Professionals are also likely to be required for removing a brick or concrete masonry chimney.
“Previous earthquakes have shown how dangerous chimneys made from brick or unreinforced concrete masonry can be. When these extend above the roofline they can collapse to the outside of the house or through the roof and when they do that they can cause a lot of damage to property and people,” says Dr Cowan.
Making improvements to a home alongside other planned maintenance or renovation work is often a more cost-effective way to make a home stronger and safer.
If you’re getting plumbing work done, talk to your plumber about what it might take to replace older clay-style pipes and connections with more flexible fittings that allow for extra movement too.
There are also simple DIY steps you can take now that will reduce the risk of damage in a natural disaster and help keep you and your family safer. Securing hot water cylinders and furniture to walls are pretty straightforward tasks that don’t take long but can really make a big difference.
“It’s all about Fix, Fasten, Don’t Forget. Time spent checking and improving your home reduces the risk of damage occurring. That means people and their families will be safer and recover more quickly should a natural disaster occur.”
More detailed information about checking your home and action you should take, go to www.eqc.govt.nz/homeowners
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