If you're going to be buying a home in California – or any other state that experiences significant earthquake activity, you need to spend some extra time investigating before you make your purchase. Earthquake damage isn't always visible. Sometimes you need to do a little digging before you see the actual damage. While you're shopping for your new home, take the time to follow the steps provided here. These steps will help you identify potential earthquake damage.

Pay Close Attention to the Doors and Windows

When it comes to earthquakes, even minor temblors can knock the doors and windows out of whack. While you're looking at houses, take the time to open all the doors and windows. The windows should move smoothly along the tracks. Your doors should open and close without a hitch.

Once open, they should swing closed unless you give them a push. Your doors should also latch properly. You'll also need to look at the walls around your doors and windows, especially the outer corners. If you see hairline cracks spreading from the corners up towards the ceiling, there's a good chance that the home has sustained earthquake damage to the foundation.

Feel the Ground Beneath Your Feet

While you're touring homes, be sure to feel the ground beneath your feet. Because earthquakes can crack the foundation, you'll be able to feel the damage when you walk, especially areas where an uneven ridge has developed. If you feel cracks, gaps, or ridges under your feet, it's a good idea to schedule a home inspection before you buy. A home inspection will be able to identify earthquake damage.

Look Inside the Fireplace

When it comes to inspecting homes in earthquake country, you don't want to overlook the fireplace. Earthquakes can crack in inner walls and refractories – which are the concrete protective walls inside the fire box. Go ahead and take a look inside the fireplace during your tour. If the owners have their log grate filled to the top with wood, ask to have those removed so you can get a good look. If the refractories are cracked, there could be damage elsewhere. It's time for a home inspection.

Research the Insurance Claims

If your inspection has uncovered signs of possible earthquake damage, you'll need to do some research on the insurance claims. Have your real estate agent obtain a copy of the homes insurance claims history. This report will identify any earthquake claims that might have been made. It will also let you know if those repairs had been completed.

For more information, contact a company like Found Realty.