How to Spot Earthquake Damage To Your Home or Building

Here in Palm Desert and Riverside County, we get occasional reminders that we live near a fault line, and these past few weeks have been no exception.  Ever since the Ridgecrest 7.1 magnitude quake we’ve been getting aftershocks and ~2 magnitude rumbles. Therefore, we should keep an eye on the types of damage that earthquakes can cause, either structurally or cosmetically, to our homes and buildings.


First, and most critically, check for gas leaks and electrical damage that can result in an explosion or fire. Check your furnace and hot water heaters for leaks in the connections.  And smell for any sewage stench that could be caused by a leak to your septic or sewage lines. Check your tap water for discoloration or smell. If you suspect any contamination, call your water company and avoid drinking your tap water.


Then you want to look at the exterior structure for any indications of foundation movement and significant structural damage.  Check the ground for areas that may have shifted and look to see if your corners are still right angles, or if your sides are out of plumb.  If you have any brickwork check to see if mortar has fallen away onto the ground -- same with stucco. If you have a chimney that has been damaged, be sure to contact your insurance company right away or the Chimney Safety Institute of America (  If you have solar panels, look for any obvious shifting, but don’t climb on the roof. Solar panels, if installed correctly should be able to withstand some shaking, so long as they are still attached to the roof, and so long the roof hasn’t sustained damage.


Inside, you can check your floors to test if any spots feel bouncier than normal, or if there is a “mushy” feeling to the floor.  Do the same test with your stairs. If you have plaster on interior walls, you can look to see if there is any “stair step” cracking.  The corners of windows and doors are also often where you will see cracking from earthquake damage. Also be sure to check all doors and windows to see if anything feels jammed or if they have more resistance than usual.

Once your utilities are deemed safe, and your insurance company has determined that your home is still structurally sound, be sure to call us. Along with our sister company Vincere Industries Construction, we can help you restore your home back to new.  For more helpful tips on spotting Earthquake damage, see this checklist by FEMA.