How to check your home for earthquake damage

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OKLAHOMA -- With an increase in the number and strength of earthquakes comes concern from homeowners about damage to their property.  Home repair experts say some damage might be hard to spot; that's why its important to know what to look for.

"You will see stair step cracks down the  brick face and those bricks will start to loosen up," said Willis.

That's just one of the problems Ray Willis, with Handyman Pro, says he's been seeing since Oklahoma started shaking. He says it's damage that could cause big problems down the road.

"Just the fact that there is a minor crack here above the arch, this this could have been from the recent quake that's opened up this crack. It is small right now, but over time that will get worse and worse if it's not addressed," he said.

Chimneys are a big concern.

"On a tall chimney like that, you don't have a lot of support, so you have a motom arm swinging and shaking. With these earthquakes, it will begin to loosen and it can fall away,"said Willis.

Willis says there could also be problems around your windows.

"You will see cracks in the mortar around the top end of these. What happens if you don't address that and repoint the brick or there is some caulking that can be used to seal that you will get water behind there...It will freeze and it will actually break that brick out you will get moisture back there which you don't want to do," he said.

Archways can also cause trouble; he says brick can break away at any time.

Once you've looked over the outside, check appliances. The hot water heater is a good place to start.

"Earthqaukes will move the water heater around a little. This top flute pipe can come loose, and if that does, you are no longer venting the carbon monoxide out the roof. It's now going into this closet into the attic and into the house," he said.

He says its also important to know how to turn off water to your home.

"Water heaters, when they go bad, they will actually burst and rupture and you will have a mess," said Willis.

Willis says knowing what to look for is key, but some things should be left to the pros... Like turning off gas.

"First thing is get out of the house second call 911. Get as far away as you can. I wouldn't try to get to the house to shut off the gas. let the pros do it," he said.

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