Evaluate your home gas system for earthquake safety
Ensure that your gas systems can withstand earthquake damage
The most common earthquake damage to a building's gas system results from structural damage to the building and the movement or toppling of gas appliances. Inspect your building and appliances to ensure they can withstand a significant earthquake.
Practice gas appliance earthquake safety
Follow these guidelines to keep gas systems safe during an earthquake:
- Restrain water heaters and other gas appliances or furniture to prevent tipping. Stay safer by preventing gas appliances, especially water heaters, from moving or falling over during an earthquake. California law requires that all new or replacement water heaters are braced, anchored or strapped to resist falling or moving during an earthquake. Commercially available hardware kits provide a reliable means to restrain water heaters, and other guidelines for earthquake bracing.
- If your water heater is on an elevated platform, ensure that the platform is properly reinforced to withstand the weight of the water heater during an earthquake.
- Use flexible gas piping connections to connect all gas appliances to the gas houseline (the gas pipe connecting your appliances to the gas meter) to reduce the likelihood of damage if movement occurs.
- Have an appliance gas shutoff valve installed at each gas appliance. The valve enables you to turn off the gas to the appliance only if there is a gas leak, or the appliance needs to be replaced or serviced.
Follow building structural safety guidelines
Appropriately constructed or strengthened buildings are less likely to collapse or sustain significant damage. Therefore, they reduce the potential of damaging the buildings' gas systems. Consider taking steps to ensure that your buildings are structurally designed and constructed or retrofitted to withstand a significant earthquake.
Learn about soft story buildings
One risk-prone building type is a "soft story" building. These buildings are constructed with large open wall areas on the ground floor. This construction puts them at greater risk of earthquake collapse than other buildings. Constructed before building code changes in the 1970’s, the buildings are generally wood frame with ground floors dedicated to garages or retail spaces and residential units above.
Find more information about soft story buildings on the following websites:
- Visit Earthquake Country Alliance.
- Visit Association of Bay Area Governments – Quake Safety Toolkit ASSOCIATION OF BAY AREA GOVERNMENTS RESILIENCE PROGRAM.
Explore retrofit measures
Following are examples of retrofit measures for a variety of building types:
- Reinforcing building foundations and walls
- Anchoring a building to its foundation
- Bracing perimeter foundation cripple walls
- Reinforcing masonry chimneys