Licensed home inspector Steve Mehring has been extremely busy these last few days. He's been checking on homes for friends and family members looking for damage from Friday's earthquake. Mehring said obvious damage isn't hard to spot. If your home has cracks that let in daylight or has sunk into the ground, there's a problem.

Mehring said there are other things that homeowners should look for now which may not be so easy to see.

 

Water Lines

Mehring said homeowners should go underneath every sink in the house (bathrooms, kitchen, laundry room, etc.) to check water lines and drains for leaks. Any fittings that are loose should be tightened. Check to make sure there are no kinks in the metal water lines. Mehring said kinks indicate a weak point that could break during a future earthquake or aftershock.

 

Toilets

Mehring said it's a good idea to check your toilets for leaks. Small drips could indicate a crack in the tank which could expand or fail in a future quake. Mehring advises grabbing the bowl and giving it a shake to make sure your toilet is still firmly secured to the floor.

 

Fireplaces

If yours is gas, make sure the gas isn't leaking or running when the fireplace isn't turned on. If yours is a wood burning fireplace, open the flue and give it a gentle shake to dislodge any debris that may have fallen down the chimney. Mehring said people who use their fireplaces frequently should consider having a professional chimney inspection to make sure flue pipes haven't been damaged or detached.

 

Water Heaters, Furnaces and Gas Lines

Check water heaters and boilers for water leaks. Make sure there are no kinks in the metal water lines. Check to make sure flu pipes and vents are still aligned. Tighten earthquake straps to make sure heaters and furnaces are still secure. Furnaces and gas lines should be checked for gas leaks. Mehring says homeowners can fill a spray bottle with soapy water and spray the fittings. If the area bubbles-up it can indicate a slow leak.

 

Garage Doors

If your garage door isn't working it's possible the cable has come off its track. Mehring said earthquakes can also damage or break garage door springs. Use the emergency release cord to open or close your door manually until you can get it fixed.

 

Doors and Windows

Check all doors and windows in the house to make sure they open and close easily and have not become misaligned. Mehring advises homeowners to open and close their windows once a month in the winter (regardless of earthquakes) to make sure they don't freeze shut.

 

Crawl Spaces

If you have one, you need to check it. Check pipes for leaks or any obvious signs of movement. Look closely at foundation walls for cracks or signs of shifting.

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