Repairing Earthquake Damage
LESLIE: That is true. Roger in Alaska is dealing with a house that is showing some cracks. Tell us about the problem.ROGER: Well, I was born and raised and lived all my life in Louisiana and just recently moved up to Anchorage and we bought a little house up here; by far the youngest house I’ve ever owned – it’s only nine years old. And …TOM: Slightly different climate up there in Alaska, huh? (chuckles)ROGER: Oh, yeah. I have never lived north of I-10 and today there’s snow in the mountains out there. I can see it’ll be snowing in the next month or so.LESLIE: How nice.ROGER: But also, I experienced my first earthquake about four weeks ago.LESLIE: Really?TOM: Interesting.ROGER: And I tell you, that’s an eye-opener and I opened my eyes and I look and I see all the cracks in the sheetrock in the house. Now, there aren’t that many but – and you know, maybe I just didn’t look for them before the quake but after the quake …TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, they may have been there all this time.ROGER: After the quake – it was just a little knock; I mean it wasn’t much but it you knew what it was.TOM: Right.ROGER: And I started looking around. I just want to make sure that – you know, I can understand probably getting around with like the mud filler or spackle or whatever and fix the cracks up and just watch them but I want to make sure that there isn’t something more I should be doing or something to watch for; like what’s settling versus maybe what could be damaged from an earthquake or something like that.TOM: Well, if you’ve had a significant earthquake, you really need a professional inspection and the way to do that is go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors at ASHI.org and find a local professional home inspector to do a structural inspection for you to determine whether or not there’s any damage that’s below the surface.Fixing those cracks is a pretty straightforward project. You don’t just want to spackle them over though, Roger. You want to put some drywall tape over the crack first. You just spackle the crack, it will simply open up again. I would recommend the perforated fiberglass tape because it’s easy to work with. You have to cut it with a scissors but then it’s self-stick and, because it’s perforated, you just sort of press the spackle right through it; two or three coats and you’re good to go.Keep in mind also that if it’s a newer home, it’s probably been built to withstand earthquakes. Most homes in earthquake areas do have building codes that allow that and if it’s not, and the inspector will be able to tell you this, it can be retrofitted because there’s programs all over the country – a lot, of course, in California – where contractors come in and simply retrofit homes to make them more earthquake-resistant.ROGER: OK. Sounds good. Well, I caught you all’s show up here for the first time on KENI radio and I love it; tune in every chance I get.TOM: Great. We will help make the transition to the colder climate as easy as possible on you, Roger. (Leslie chuckles)ROGER: I tell you, I may have some other questions about frost even in the yard and everything once we get a little closer to winter. (Leslie chuckles)TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright, well you call us back. Alright. Alright, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call back any time.