A Guide To Preparing Your Plumbing For Earthquakes

Living in Southern California means being prepared for an earthquake to strike at any time. You may have taken precautions to prepare yourself and your family. Have you prepared the plumbing system and fixtures in your home for an earthquake?

To prepare your plumbing system you will need to secure your water heater, install a gas shutoff valve, and know the location of your water main shutoff and how to operate it.

Below we will cover the ways to prepare the critical plumbing fixtures in your home for an earthquake.

Securing Your Water Heater

In the event of a significant earthquake, an unsecured or improperly secured water heater can shift or fall, causing a potential gas leak, water damage, electrical system damage due to exposed wiring, and structural property damage.

After the Loma Prieta and Northridge quakes (1989 and 1994 respectively), the laws in California were revised, requiring additional strapping and securing hardware. Water heaters up to 50 gallons require 2 straps, and 75 and 80 gallon water heaters require 3 straps.

Straps made out of galvanized steel or nylon can secure your water heater and help keep it in place in the event of an earthquake. There must be one strap on the upper one-third of the tank and one on the lower one-third of the tank. 

Automatic Gas Shutoff Valve

An automatic gas shutoff valve can stop the flow of natural gas at your home when an earthquake of sufficient magnitude occurs. The automatic shut off of the flow of gas helps prevent a gas leak and possible explosion.

An earthquake-activated gas shutoff valve should be installed by a professional having the proper plumbing experience. The valve is typically installed on the gas line at a point between the gas meter and the gas line entrance into the home. In order to pass a point-of-sale retrofit inspection, an automatic gas shutoff valve is required, in addition to other fire safety and water conservation fixtures including low-flow toilets, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, metal bar safety release latches, and other items.   

Water Shutoff Valve

When purchasing a new property, it’s crucial that you know the location of the water shutoff valve for your home, and ensure it is in proper working order.

It may be necessary to shut off the water to your home following an earthquake, in the event the main or any of the other water lines become damaged. Being able to locate and operate the main water shutoff valve without delay can prevent your home from being flooded, creating a dangerous situation and causing more damage to your home. 

The Bottom Line

Preparing the plumbing in your home ahead of a seismic event will help to prevent an already dangerous situation from becoming much worse and potentially catastrophic event. Such preparations are relatively inexpensive, and are one of the best investments you can make for helping to keep your loved ones and home safe.

Retrofit Express has installed over 30,000 automatic earthquake shutoff valves throughout the metro Los Angeles area. Whether you’re preparing to sell your property and in need of the required retrofit inspection, or you want to be proactive to safeguard your family and property, let the experts at Retrofit Express help you be prepared for the next seismic event