How To Spot The Early Signs Of Subsidence In Your Home

When you buy a beautiful home, the lender will make a professional survey a condition of the mortgage. You know that you are buying a sound property, but many years later problems might start to develop. The chances are that they will be nothing serious but it is wise to keep an eye open signs of subsidence.


Alison Christine

It often occurs over a long period, so the clues might not be immediately obvious. You can spot the telltale signs though if you know what to look for when you examine the property annually.

Let’s first talk about what could make your home sink. The cause may be simple and easy to repair, or you may need to undergo major works to correct the problem.

  • If there is a leaky drain or water supply pipe, it might be washing soil away underground. Over many months or years it can remove or weaken support under the foundations and cause the house to sink in one area.

  • If there is a tree in proximity to the building, the roots could be causing damage. They extend for a distance equal to or greater than the height of the tree, according to the experts. In a prolonged dry spell, the tree will take water from the ground, and there is none to replace it. That causes the soil to lose strength, particularly if it contains a lot of clay.

  • Old mine tunnels sometimes collapse and have an affect on the surface ground levels. That is why the mortgage lender will insist on a mining search before they will advance the mortgage.

The Inspection

Here is how I suggest you perform the inspection of your property.

  • Use a plumb line to check that the walls are vertical. To do so, stand away from the property and hold the line at arms length. When it stops swinging, compare it to the walls of the house. If the walls are leaning, it should be easy to see. Don’t panic straight away; they might have been like that for years. If you suspect a problem, check again later and look for changes.

  • Look for cracks in the brickwork. Be suspicious if you see any that have broken the bricks. It is not unusual to see a crack that follows the mortar courses; click here for more information.

  • Is there a door that has started to jam for no apparent reason? Wooden doors swell up and shrink through the seasons, but uPVC units should not. Look around the frame to see if any gaps are starting to form or if the corner joints are cracking.

  • If the window frame is deforming because of the movement in the walls, it might break the glass. If a crack appears without explanation, consider subsidence as a possible culprit.

If you suspect the house is subsiding, you must act immediately. The longer you delay, the more damage it will cause to the property. Call in the experts to perform a survey and propose remedies to the problem. You must not consider foundation repairs as a DIY job because the integrity of the building relies on them and they must be completed to a professional standard.

I hope you are not too worried by subsidence; most properties never suffer from it, and those that do can undergo repair. Act swiftly and all will be well.