Skip to Main Content

5 Ways Earthquakes Damage Your Foundation

fallen chimney after earthquake

Even a minor earthquake can shake the very foundation of your home, often in ways you can’t immediately see.  

As the underlying soil shifts and settles, the stability of your home’s foundation can be compromised. Understanding how to spot potential problems early is important.  

In this article, we’ll dive into how earthquakes can damage your foundation, what signs to look for, and why staying vigilant after any seismic event is essential for protecting your home. 

Top Ways Earthquakes Damage Your Foundation

Let’s explore the top ways earthquakes damage your home, helping you address potential issues quickly and effectively. 

1. Structural Failure 

brick cracks

Earthquakes can seriously compromise the structural integrity of buildings and homes. The shaking and uneven stress can cause foundations to crack or shift and might even lead to collapse under extreme conditions. Earthquakes can weaken vital parts of a structure, like beams and columns, reducing the overall stability.  

2. Surface Rupture 

Earthquakes can lead to surface rupture, where the earth dramatically splits along fault lines. This can be quite alarming, especially if these ruptures happen close to your home. Such shifts can crack or even displace parts of your foundation, seriously undermining the stability of your house. 

3. Landslides

Earthquakes can trigger landslides, particularly affecting homes on or near slopes. The shaking loosens the soil, which may slide and destabilize your home’s foundation, leading to settling or collapse.  

4. Liquefaction

Earthquakes can lead to liquefaction, where saturated soil turns fluid-like, losing its strength under seismic shaking, often in sandy, water-rich soils. This phenomenon can severely undermine a home’s foundation, causing uneven settling or collapse, and potentially leading to significant structural damage. 

5. Fires

Earthquakes can cause fires that severely damage homes by rupturing gas lines and sparking electrical connections. The ensuing chaos and structural damage may also hinder firefighting efforts, allowing fires to spread quickly. Homeowners in earthquake-prone areas should install automatic gas shut-off valves and maintain their electrical systems to reduce these risks. 

After an earthquake, recognizing the common signs of foundation damage to address potential issues before they worsen.  

Here are a few of the signs to look for: 

foundation cracks at corner of house

Foundation Shifting

If you notice your foundation is leaning or sinking, this could indicate foundation failure, possibly triggered by an earthquake. For homes with basements, check for walls that are leaning or bowing. If your home is built on a slab foundation, keep an eye out for any gaps or spaces between the foundation and the house itself. 

interior drywall cracks

Interior Cracks 

Interior cracks, especially those starting from door and window frames, are clear warning signs of foundation settlement following an earthquake. Drywall nail pops are also often indicative of shifting structures, which may occur when the foundation moves. 

large exterior brick crack

Exterior Cracks 

Cracked bricks, particularly in a stair-step pattern, are a significant warning sign of foundation settlement after an earthquake. This type of cracking commonly occurs when one side of the foundation settles while the other remains stable, causing a disparity in weight distribution that pulls the brick walls apart. Such signs are critical indicators that the structural integrity of the foundation may be compromised. 

sticking door

Misaligned Doors & Windows 

Misaligned windows and doors often indicate foundation settlement after an earthquake. When one side of a frame sinks more than the other, doors and windows may stick.  

Staying vigilant with home maintenance is always important, but it becomes crucial after an earthquake of any size. To ensure your home remains safe and secure, consider scheduling a free inspection with a local Groundworks expert.  

They can help assess any potential damage and provide peace of mind that your property is in good condition. 

Effective Solutions for Repairing Structural Damage Post-Earthquake

Experiencing an earthquake can be incredibly frightening, but once the immediate danger has passed, it’s crucial to assess and address any potential damage to your home’s foundation.  

You can benefit from Groundworks’ reliable foundation repair options that restore the stability of your home with a variety of proven solutions, including: 

helical pier

Foundation Piers 

Piering systems are a strong option, as they are driven deep into the soil to reach stable ground, effectively supporting your home’s foundation and potentially lifting to its original position. This method not only stabilizes the foundation but also can help correct uneven settling. 

wall anchor

Foundation Wall Supports 

These systems, which include anchors and beams, are designed to address bowing or cracked foundation walls. Wall anchors extend out to stable, undisturbed soil outside the home and are connected to the inside walls with steel plates, providing counterpressure needed to straighten the walls. Our IntelliBrace ™ beam system, on the other hand, reinforces weakened walls from the inside, preventing further bowing and cracking. 

crawl space support jack

Crawl Space Jacks 

Crawl space jacks offer a direct solution for sagging floors above crawl spaces. These adjustable, high-strength supports stabilize sagging floor joists and beams, potentially raising them back to their original level and improving the overall stability of the floor structure. 

With these robust and effective options, Groundworks ensures that your home returns to solid ground, restoring your peace of mind and the structural integrity of your property. 

Choose the Best with Groundworks

When recovering from an earthquake, you need the best team on your side. Groundworks has been providing permanent, reliable solutions for homeowners across the U.S. and Canada for decades. We understand the urgency and precision required to address post-earthquake damage effectively.  

Don’t wait to assess the extent of the damage—use our online damage calculator quiz or schedule a free inspection online today to ensure your home returns to safety and stability with the best in the business.