Subsidence can be a worrying prospect for any homeowner. If you think that you have seen something that could be related to this issue, then it’s important to get it assessed by a professional as quickly as possible as it could save you a great deal of time and money.
Don’t panic just yet though, because even in some of the worst cases, action can be taken to put a halt to the issue. We’ve got some great information here for you that covers exactly what subsidence is, the signs that you could have subsidence at your property, how to prevent it, and also how to fix it.
What is Subsidence?
In basic terms, subsidence is the sinking or caving in of a piece of land. When subsidence occurs, the concern here is that the ground located beneath your home will sink lower or collapse, subsequently taking some of the building’s foundations with it. Without fully intact foundations, the structure of your house then becomes weakened, leaving it susceptible to strain, and as one side sinks, cracks emerge.
What Are the Signs of Subsidence?
Sometimes it is only natural to assume the worst if you spot a crack appearing in your home. The important thing is to not jump to conclusions, and firstly, fully inspect the area.
There are plenty of occasions when suspected subsidence will actually be signs of natural swelling and shrinkage as a result of humidity and temperature fluctuations. If you’re residing in a new home, the plaster usually shows signs of some small cracks as it dries and the structure ‘beds in’.
To spot signs of subsidence, these are the biggest tell-tale points to keep an eye out for:
- Cracks situated near to windows and doors
- Cracks that are more than 3mm wide (thicker than a 10 pence piece)
- Diagonal cracks that are wider at the top than the bottom
- You can see the crack both inside and out of the property
How Can You Prevent Subsidence?
After reading the previous point; if you still think that, yes, your home is at risk of subsidence, the first thing to do is to minimise the risks as best you can. Some ways to do this are as follows:
- Keep all external pipes, guttering and plumbing well maintained to prevent leaks.
- Avoid planting trees/shrubs too close to your property.
- Don’t dig up any existing trees/shrubs, as this can cause instability and/or waterlogging. Instead, prune regularly or consult a tree surgeon for guidance.
How Can You Fix Subsidence?
If you’re convinced that your house is subsiding, contact a structural engineer. Our Cornwall-based team are available to help throughout the Devon and Cornwall regions.
You should also get in touch with your insurer as they will be able to offer advice on what kind of steps they’d like you to take from their perspective.
In many cases, subsidence is monitored. This necessitates that a hole beside your home is dug out to discover what the root cause of the problem is. It also allows the inspectors to track just how far the property is moving and at what rate.
The process typically takes around 12 months; most cases end with experts sourcing and removing the cause of the subsidence. For serious cases, your house could require structural support through underpinning while works to strengthen the foundations are conducted.