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Subsidence

Subsidence occurs when the ground beneath a property starts to sink, in severe cases this can result in foundation and structural damage and even the collapse of buildings .

Properties built on certain soils can be particularly vulnerable to subsidence. Clay soils are known to expand and contract, relating to their moisture content. During hot summer months trees and vegetation can absorb considerable amounts of moisture from clay-based soil, causing the soil to shrink, as thirsty plants force their roots under a property's foundations in a quest for water and moisture.

Leaking drains, water mains or even naturally occurring underground water sources, can also result in the washing and eroding away of soil, causing the weight of buildings to then sink and subside into the unstable earth underneath.

The natural decomposition of certain organic soils, if significantly dried out and man-made underground mine-workings or tunnels could all result in buildings supported by such soils to subside.

As the summer months pass and the temperature cools, property owners may start to notice cracks appearing in the walls of their home or building. Whilst minor cracks in walls are not unusual, significant cracks may signify subsidence. Property owners should be aware of diagonal cracks suddenly appearing in both inner plaster walls and outer brickwork, usually these cracks will be much wider at the very top. Walls around doors and windows are also susceptible to cracking, as cracks tend to form around weaker areas. If a property starts to distort, doors and windows may also become more difficult to open and close. Should the property have an extension, cracks can appear where the extension joins the main building, in severe cases this can result in the extension detaching itself from the property.

Regular maintain your property and garden

Basic maintenance and upkeep of your property is important. Pipes, drains and gutters should be maintained regularly to ensure no blockages, splits or leaks can occur, leading to water eroding and washing away the earth beneath the property's foundations.

It's also advisable to regularly maintain and prune existing trees and shrubs in the property's garden and ensure that any new vegetation is planted at some distance away from the property.

In the most extreme cases of subsidence, properties will need to be underpinned and secured whilst the foundations are strengthened, which can be an expensive and disruptive process over a considerable length of time.

 

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