Bad News About Your Retrofit
Do you feel safer because your house has had a retrofit? Unfortunately, you may have a false sense of security: a highly respected east bay retrofit contractor says that fully 30% of his business is repairing retrofits that were incomplete or incorrectly done.
As an independent expert on retrofits, I have to say that my experience is the same. When I evaluate a house’s seismic attachment to its foundation during my in-home consultation, I find that those which have had a previous retrofit are most often incomplete, and quite often incorrectly done.
As far as I can tell (except for structural engineers), I am the only licensed, independent retrofit expert in northern California – I don’t do retrofits. I’m a consultant and I don’t want any conflict of interest.
If I’ve checked your retrofit, great – pass this on to a friend, neighbor, colleague, or family member. If you haven’t had me over yet, give me a call or email.
See my web site for a summary of the consultation: QuakePrepare.com
BONUS QuakeTip: I recently reported that Walmart’s on line price for a 55 gallon water barrel seems to be the best. They have raised their price to $96.27, but that’s still the best I’ve seen for what you get. For details, go to my website QuakePrepare.com and click on “Blog.”
PG&E is disingenuous about:
1. Their manual shut-off valve at the meter. They tell us: “if you smell gas after a quake, go out and turn the gas off at the meter.”
Problem: at the end of my in-home consults, I check this valve with the special tool or a regular crescent wrench. Over 70% of the time, I can’t budge the valve. Without a special plumber’s pipe wrench, most homeowners would be out of luck. PG&E knows this is a problem, but does nothing about it, unless you call.
Advice: check your manual valve. Call PG&E if it’s too difficult or impossible for you to make it slightly move, and tell them they need to come out and replace or repair the valve. It’s their responsibility. Get your neighbors, family, and friends to do the same. In the image above, the yellow arrow is pointing to the manual shut-off valve.
2. Fire hazard if you’re not home when a major quake hits. They just blithely presume we’ll be home to turn our gas off if there’s a gas leak after a quake. What if we’re not home?
Problem: PG&E doesn’t recommend installing automatic gas shut-off valves to solve the problem of not being at home. Their official position on installing these valves? “Neutral.” No position. Really? Even after their horrible track record of promoting safety?
Advice: Make sure you and your neighbors have automatic gas shut-off valves installed.
Our prices for automatic gas shut-off valves: $245 – $285, depending upon location.
“Triangle of Life” – Watch Out!
It’s been 3 years since I warned my readers about this, so it’s time to re-visit it.
Every so often, I get an email from someone passing on information from a person named Doug Copp, who is a self-proclaimed “expert” on disaster management. His ideas run around the internet every few months.
He says that, in a serious quake, the “drop, cover, and hold on” advice from the Red Cross and other American disaster agencies is wrong, and that, instead, you should find some “triangle of life” area in the room to protect yourself.
Please don’t listen to this advice. His observations are based on buildings in third world countries, and, even if his ideas may have value there (as they would in un-reinforced concrete construction), they DO NOT have value here. Engineering researchers have demonstrated that very few buildings collapse or “pancake” in the U.S. as they might do in other countries.