Building techniques and architecture have come a long way in the last 150 years. Many of San Francisco’s original buildings were lost after the Great Earthquake in 1906, which is still considered one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history. Homes have been rebuilt, but many older properties are still very susceptible to earthquake damage because of the building techniques used during the construction process.
What is Seismic Retrofitting?
The term retrofit simply means to add a component to something that it didn’t have when it was initially created. Retrofitting a building includes the addition of bolts, supports, clips, hold downs, shear walls and moment frames to strengthen the structure.
Seismic retrofitting uses principles of physics to ensure that a building does not fall in an earthquake. Both physics and mathematical formulae are used to determine what needs to be done to improve structural integrity and protect the building from earthquake damage.
Some parts of the building will still sustain damage during a significant earthquake. There are inherently several parts that we cannot protect against. Those parts include but are not limited to:
- The Chimney & Foundation – A masonry chimney is a very strong structure, but many topple during strong earthquake activity. There is very little that can be done to prevent chimney damage during an earthquake. If masonry foundations are not reinforced, they too can crumble.
- Concrete – All concrete areas of the home are susceptible to earthquake damage. Sidewalks and steps are at most risk due to relatively thin layers of concrete. Concrete flooring and foundations may be at risk during strong earthquakes.
- Broken Windows – Several things may cause windows to break during an earthquake, including violent twisting of the walls, items falling from shelves and smashing the window, and tree limbs or outdoor debris being thrown into the window are a few unavoidable things.
- Cracked Drywall – Drywall is the most common wall material in both modern and renovated older homes. It is relatively inexpensive and easy to repair or replace if it becomes damaged.
Seismic Retrofitting to Prevent Damage
All damages cannot be prevented of course, but we can improve the structural integrity of your building to aid against earthquake damage. Restoration, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of newer and historic structures are part of our work here at Saarman Construction.
Creating a structurally sound and safe building for our community in San Francisco is an extremely important part of our business. We work with our “No Problem” motto, meaning that no job is too big, too small, or too complicated for our team.