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Common Causes of Subsidence

An enormous problem for homeowners, ground subsidence can strike anywhere for a variety of different reasons. Potential building and home buyers should be aware of the possible causes of subsidence to help them avoid problems in the future.

Soil composition

Often subsidence is related to the moisture content of the soil underneath the foundations. Certain soil types are more susceptible than others.

Cohesive soils, such as clay and silt are particularly vulnerable since they shrink and swell in relation to their moisture content. This means that the weather can have an enormous impact on their composition. Clay soil is found extensively across England and Wales, so this is a problem that will affect lots of people.

Non-cohesive soils, like sand and gravel, are less susceptible to shrinkage and growth, but they are more susceptible to being washed away by water flow (such as when a water pipe is damaged).

Take a look at this UK subsidence map to see which areas of the country are most affected by subsidence.

Trees and other vegetation

As much as that nearby tree or bush adds to the charm of where you live or work, there is the possibility that it could be causing subsidence to occur. Vegetation near the foundations can be a cause because roots suck moisture from the soil, causing it to shrink. This is more of a risk during long periods of dry weather as thirsty plants push their roots through building foundations in search of water.

Man-made issues

It isn’t just caused by natural phenomenon – there are several man-made factors that have an impact, too. Water escaping from damaged drains can sometimes soften, or even wash away the ground beneath the foundations, resulting in ground movement and, therefore, building movement. This issue usually affects sandy or gravelly soil.

Mines are another cause of subsidence. Areas where there was heavy coal mining will have several open areas underneath the ground, which can lead to subsidence.

Traffic and building work nearby can cause heavy and extended vibration which can lead to the soil moving and subsiding.

We are here to help

If you are suffering from the effects of ground subsidence, or believe you are, then call in the URETEK team to sort the problem quickly and with no fuss. Call us on 0800 084 3503 or use our contact form to discuss your concerns. We are committed to providing a comprehensive solution for your problems.

Common causes

  • The building or structure has been built on compressible clay soil
  • Soil under the building/structure has not been compacted properly during construction
  • Water damage has weakened underlying soil and foundations
  • Movement of varying soil structures underneath foundations
  • Vibrations & moving of soil at nearby excavations
  • Vibration from passing traffic
  • Incomplete/poor quality foundation works
  • Changes in environmental or surrounding circumstances
  • Natural decomposition of soil, such as peat
  • Vegetation growth – Oak, Willow and Poplar are all very effective at sucking up moisture from the soil