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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Typical Storm Activity in Palo Alto and the Property Damage Repercussions

11/21/2021 (Permalink)

Blog Summary:  SERVPRO of Palo Alto looks at storms and weather conditions that can lead to property damage in the Palo Alto, Atherton, and Redwood City areas of California.

Earthquakes can be devastating natural disasters that cause several types of property damage, including water damage from burst pipes. Even smaller magnitude seismic events that do not topple buildings can still crack pipes and cause destructive leaks. According to the United States Geological Survey, “California has more earthquakes that cause damage than any other state.” Because California is the epicenter of the United States’ seismically active locations, business owners in the Golden State need to be prepared for the possibility of water intrusion due to plumbing that has been damaged by an earthquake.

What Are the Property Damage Risks of Earthquakes in the Bay Area?

A 2017 article from a local news outlet highlighted a seismic risk assessment that had recently been conducted for the Palo Alto area. The article noted that an earthquake of up to a magnitude 7.4 “would likely cause around $2.4 billion in damage and devastate more than 200 buildings. The types of buildings in Palo Alto range from wood-frame homes to newer buildings with concrete shear walls. A major earthquake would completely wipe out the older homes in Palo Alto, most of which were built prior to 1970. However, an earthquake of 7.9 magnitude would also cause extensive damage to the new buildings. Despite more advanced materials, the newer buildings use a “tilt-up” construction method where concrete is poured into the ground, cured, and lifted. This method creates ground that is susceptible to earthquakes.”

How Can Seismic Activity Lead to Water Damage at a Bay Area Business?

After an earthquake and once it is safe enough to do so, business owners should make sure that the plumbing at their business or commercial facility has come through the seismic event unscathed.

While more modern structures can withstand the stresses of an earthquake better than older structures, both new and old buildings will be damaged by an earthquake of sizable enough magnitude. Furthermore, if the facility’s pipes are already structurally compromised, seismic activity can burst fractured pipes, spewing water and sewage across the building.

What Are the Signs That Pipes Have Been Damaged by an Earthquake?

The most obvious sign of damaged pipes is pools of water appearing in the facility. Damp areas are also a reliable indicator that the plumbing system has been compromised.

Hidden water damage is another concern and can cause damage that escalates over time. By listening for noises of dripping and gushing, the business owner or employees may be able to detect a leak that is concealed behind a wall. Also, watch for shifting water pressure at faucets and toilets, and check the water meter for abnormal increases in water usage.

Exterior water lines can also suffer damage from seismic activity. Look out for unusual areas of wetness or puddling that are not connected with rainfall, sprinkler usage, or other normal presence of water.

Another subtle indicator of an underground pipe failure is the improved growth of grass, plants, and shrubs surrounding the facility. If greenery is looking even greener without any corresponding rainfall or artificial watering, the plant life may be absorbing water from an underground leak.

If the sewer main has ruptured, a foul odor may be present. In addition, rodents and other pests can be attracted by the leakage.

What to Expect When SERVPRO Responds to a Water-Damaged Business

The water damage restoration process begins when the client makes the call to SERVPRO of Palo Alto. The team is available 24/7/365 to respond to large and small water damage emergencies and will deliver immediate action, which is essential to minimize the effect of secondary damage. As experts in remediating water damage, the technicians at SERVPRO of Palo Alto are able to guide the client through the chaos of a water damage disaster.

Once contact has been initiated, the SERVPRO representative will obtain relevant information from the client, including:

  • The client’s name and contact information
  • Any insurance information
  • The street address of the water-damaged business
  • The time at which the water damage occurred
  • The cause of the water damage
  • The status of available electricity on-site

This information helps SERVPRO of Palo Alto to mobilize the appropriate response to meet the challenges posed by the water damage emergency.

For more information about Redwood City, CA, commercial damage restoration, call the SERVPRO of Palo Alto office by phone at (650) 800-3448. Staff can also be reached by email at office@SERVPROpaloalto.com

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