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Earthquakes In Boston? Could (And Did!) Happen!

Last week, there was a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on as an earthquake centered in Virginia rattled much of the East Coast, including Boston. No significant damage to buildings was reported here, but infrequently, earthquakes can and do happen along the East Coast. When they do occur, it’s a good idea to have plumbing and sewer connections inspected, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a chimney inspection as well.

Although a 5.8 magnitude earthquake isn’t enough to bring down modern buildings, East Coast earthquakes tend to produce more violent shaking than West Coast quakes do. The reason for this is the layers of cool, hard rock that exist underneath the East Coast, which transmit tectonic vibrations much more easily than the ground below the West Coast does.

Could Boston ever be in the epicenter of an earthquake similar to the one that occurred last week? Let’s just say, “Been there, done that.” The Cape Ann/Boston area was the epicenter of a major earthquake in the mid-1700’s. Seismologists today estimate that event, which occurred in 1755, would have been classified as a 6.0 magnitude quake and is considered one of the largest East Coast quakes in modern times.

At that time, the area was populated with brick buildings and homes with brick chimneys. The 1755 quake caused some wall collapses and more than 1,600 chimney collapses. Today, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake in Boston would likely cause some damage to buildings, like chimneys, windows and walls. It might be harder to see, but earthquakes can also cause hidden damage to both fresh and wastewater plumbing systems.

The moral here? It’s probably not a bad idea to schedule chimney and furnace inspections before turning on your furnace in Boston this year. The chimney inspection can detect hidden damage to bricks and mortar that may allow carbon monoxide to leak into your living space. Chimneys do deteriorate over time, too and many people skip the chimney inspections. Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating can also conduct plumbing inspections to confirm that underground water and sewer lines are still intact.

Give Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating a call at (617) -288-2911 anytime and we’ll be happy to give your furnace a pre-season tune up!