Frequently Asked Questions

Am I required to strap my water heater?

New and replacement water heaters are required by law to be anchored or strapped to resist falling during earthquakes. Home sellers must certify to buyers that water heaters are braced. For more information see the Homeowner’s Guide to Earthquake Safety

The easiest way to brace a water heater is to install a pre-approved bracing system available at most hardware stores. Make sure it has the Division of the State Architect’s stamp of approval on the box before purchasing.

For information on how to strap water heaters with generic, build-it-yourself parts, go to

For specific legal requirements, contact the Division of the State Architect at (916) 445-8100 or to request an email, pdf, or fax of its recommendations and generic bracing details.

I'm selling my home. Is there a form that I am required to give potential buyers? Where do I get this form? Am I required to provide a copy of the "Homeowner's Guide to Earthquake Safety?

When you sell your house, state law requires you to disclose earthquake weaknesses such as those described in the booklet titled “The Homeowner’s Guide to Earthquake Safety”. If your house was built before 1960, you must deliver a copy of this booklet to the buyer and fill out the disclosure form in it. Your real estate agent is required to supply you with a copy of this booklet. For more information see the Homeowner’s Guide to Earthquake Safety

Can I purchase Commission publications with a credit card or purchase order?

No, we are only able to accept checks or money orders at 2945 Ramco Street, Suite 195 West Sacramento, CA 95691 by mail or in person 8 am to 5 pm on business days.

Do I have to buy publications from your agency or is there somewhere else I can get them?

Many of our publication are available for free downloads on our website,

Some Realtors and Boards of Realtors provide copies of the Homeowner’s Guide to Earthquake Safety and the Commercial Property Owner’s Guide to Earthquake Safety.In addition, you may be able to find certain publications at your local government depository library or at universities with earthquake engineering libraries.

How do I find out what earthquake hazard zone I live in?

There are four types of zone maps: Shaking, Fault Rupture, Seismic Hazard Zones for Liquefaction and Landslides, and Tsunami Inundation.

Ground shaking typically causes over 90 percent of all earthquake damage. California has two shaking zones 4 and 3. Zone 4 is located nearest to active earthquake faults and poses greater hazards than Zone 3. See Figure 7 on page 7 of the Homeowner’s Guide

Seismic Hazard Zone Maps show areas of land that might be prone to landslides, liquefaction or tsunami inundation. These maps are available to view and download at:

I'm looking for the booklet titled "Environmental Hazards: A Guide for Homeowners and Buyers," does your agency sell this booklet?

We do not sell the guide that addresses environmental hazards. To obtain a copy, ask your Realtor. Or to purchase the booklet directly, contact the California Association of Realtors at (213) 739-8214. It is not available to the public online.

I own or interested in buying an old brick, stone, or masonry building. Am I required to retrofit it?

State law requires local governments in Seismic Zone 4 to have an earthquake loss reduction program for unreinforced masonry buildings. Contact your local building department for specific details. For more information about the law and the status of local government compliance with it, you can download the Commission’s report

How do I find out about the "Shake Out Exercise?

Contact the Southern California Earthquake Center: USGS unveiled a scenario describing how a magnitude 7.8 earthquake will affect Southern California.