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MGA Construction Company

Weak Cripple Walls

The Problem

Wooden stud walls are sometimes used on top of an exterior foundation to support a house and create the crawl space (see figure below). These are called cripple walls. These short walls carry the weight of the house. When the house sways from side to side in an earthquake, these walls must be braced to resist swaying. if the cripple walls are not braced, they can collapse and the house will fall, causing dmage to the foundation, floors, walls, windows, and utility connections as well as the contents of the home. It may also cause a fire from broken gas lines. It is very expensive to repair this damage.

How to Identify It

Go under the house to see if there are any cripple walls and, if so, whether they are braced. If you can see a cripple wall, and there is no plywood or diagonal wood sheathing (see figure below), the cripple walls are probably inadequately braced or unbraced. Horizontal or vertical wood siding is not strong enough to brace cripple walls.

What Can Be Done

Plywood panels can be nailed on the inside of the studs.

Figure - If your home has a cripple wall between the foundation and the first floor, and it is not braced with plywood sheathing, the house may collapse in an earthquake.

Please click here for more info on:
The Strength of Plywood Sheathing

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