If your home was built without a Cripple Wall, your earthquake retrofit will be simpler, more effective and less expensive!

What is a Cripple Wall?

Los Angeles homeowners who live in properties that do not have Cripple Walls, should count themselves lucky!  For such homeowners, an earthquake retrofit job will be quick, effective, and even less expensive!

At this point you’re probably asking, what are Cripple Walls?  Well, they are short walls that rest on top of a home’s Foundation, supporting its ground floor and exterior walls.  Such Cripple Walls, also called Pony Walls, take on the entire weight of the home!   And so, homes that have Cripple Walls – essentially walls between the foundation and the walls of the home – are inherently weaker and more vulnerable to earthquake damage, when compared to homes without Cripple Walls.

In homes without Cripple Walls, there are no walls between the foundation and the first floor of the house.  Such homes rest almost directly on top of their Foundations.  If you want to know whether your home has Cripple Walls, just step outside your front door and count the number of steps that lead up to your front door.  If you have only one or two steps, you don’t have Cripple Walls!  If you have more steps, then yes, your home probably has Cripple Walls.

Moreover, if your home was built before 1950 and on a horizontal piece of land, you are in luck and it probably does not have Cripple Walls.  In such a home, earthquake retrofitting will be simpler, more effective, and less expensive!

How do homes without Cripple Walls get damaged by earthquakes?

If your home does not have Cripple Walls, the ground floor you walk on is supported by Floor Joists, which are timber beams that span over the open area of your home’s crawl space – that shallow, unfinished space beneath the first floor of the home, which often provides access to plumbing or wiring.

Your home’s Floor Joists sit on top of piece of wood called a Mudsill, which is a wood component that attaches to your home’s foundation, sitting on top of it.  Unfortunately, in many typical homes, Floor Joists are not attached to the Mudsill by very much at all, and are often just resting on top of the Mudsill.  When the forces of an earthquake attack the home, these forces push the home off of its foundation edges, and with just a bit of force, unattached Floor Joists simply slide off their Mudsill and off the home’s foundation.  When this happens, Bingo, game’s over, and the home has hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of earthquake damage.

Earthquake retrofitting explained simply!

When professional earthquake retrofitters such as Weinstein Construction come to retrofit your home, our task is to make sure your home doesn’t slide off its foundation!   And we do all that retrofit work inside your home’s crawl space, that area that fits from the bottom of your home’s ground floor, to the dirt floor underneath the structure.  That space is quite small!

So, as you read the next couple of paragraphs, keep in mind that in a home without Cripple Walls, the ground floor that you walk on, is supported by Floor Joists, which sit on top of the Mudsill, which in turn, sits on top of the Foundation edge.

Now, our first task as earthquake retrofitters, is to attach the Mudsill to the Foundation with steel “Foundation Anchors”, each one bolted to the Mudsill at its top, and to the Foundation at its bottom.  Next, we attach and nail the home’s Floor Joists and Rim Joists to the Mudsill with steel “Sheer Transfer Ties”, which help prevent Joists from sliding off the Mudsill and the Foundation.

So, once the retrofit work is done, the force of an earthquake tries to slide the ground floor off the Joists, but the energy is absorbed by the Sheer Transfer Ties.  Then, because the Sheer Transfer Ties are nailed into the Mudsill, the earthquake’s energy gets absorbed by the Foundation Anchors which are bolted into the Mudsill, as well as into the Foundation, and these Anchors transfer the earthquake’s energy very effectively into the Foundation and into ground!  When this happens, Bingo, game’s over, and your home is intact, having withstood the forces of the earthquake!

Here’s how to get your home ready for the next earthquake!

The Los Angeles Times recently recommended for homeowners to hire earthquake retrofitting professionals such as Weinstein Construction, to secure their homes to their foundations, so that the homes don’t just slide off during an earthquake!  The Times cautioned that a $4,000 retrofit job today can prevent a $400,000 repair job after an earthquake!

Since 1977, Weinstein Construction’s professionals have successfully retrofitted over 7,000 buildings and helped countless homeowners in the greater Los Angeles area with their quake-proofing needs!  call Weinstein Construction today at (800) 862-6582 to schedule a no-obligation, free home inspection and estimate.  Be prepared and have peace of mind when the next “Big One” hits!

You may also want to know that not only did we put in a price freeze on our earthquake retrofitting services in 2022 (while our competitors raised their prices!), we also decided today to kick-off a June $300 special price reduction to make retrofitting even more affordable to all homeowners!