5 Signs that your property requires underpinning
When and Why Might Your Property Need Underpinning?
Maintaining the good condition of your home is a full-time job, involving a range of activities from the application of an occasional coat of paint to more invasive alterations such as replacing doors and windows. While these kinds of interventions will improve the appearance of the house or increase its fuel efficiency, there is a far greater potential for problems to arise if the integrity of the building’s foundations is affected by subsidence. Thankfully, the signs of this kind of structural issue are easy to spot.
What is subsidence?
This term refers to certain types of changes in the ground beneath a property and the effects it has on the building. It includes those occasions when part of the ground becomes lower, creating holes or leaving gaps into which parts of the foundations can sink. Subsidence can be caused by the make-up of the ground, for example, clay soils tend to dry out and crumble in times of drought, and areas with a large number of tree roots are prone to subsidence as botanical matter rots or moves. More dramatic subsidence is occasionally found where the land has previously been the site of mining or even when extensive sewage or other pipework has failed.
What are the signs of subsidence?
The most obvious sign of subsidence is cracking, but it’s important to be aware that this occurs naturally for many reasons and isn’t always a cause for concern. However, it’s vital to seek immediate professional advice if you observe cracks with the following characteristics:
- Visible on the outside of the property
- Following a diagonal path on a wall
- Greater than 3mm in width
- Wider at the top than the bottom
- Situated near to door or window frames
Other signs of subsidence reflect the sinking that takes place, which effectively causes the property to lean, throwing any previously clean angles into disarray. They can include:
- Sticking doors and windows
- Sloping of floors
- Creasing and wrinkling of wallpaper at corners and where walls meet ceilings
- Draughts or other signs of separation where extensions attach to a main building
What can be done?
Early intervention is always preferable, so by watching out for these signs and taking action, you’re giving your home the best chance of a relatively straightforward repair. Of course, when a house has fallen prey to subsidence, the available options depend on the extent and nature of the specific problem, but the most likely course of action will be one which directly addresses the failure of the foundation, such as underpinning. As the name suggests, underpinning involves adding additional support to the existing foundation below load-bearing walls; here at URETEK this is done by polymer resin injection into the soil surrounding the foundations or into the foundations directly, stabilising the building.
Nobody wants to have to undertake extensive structural work on their building. It can be expensive, inconvenient and time consuming, but to ignore the necessity for having this intervention could prove catastrophic in the long run. In fact, the earlier on in the progression of the problem you seek a professional opinion, the likelier it is that the expense, inconvenience and time for completion of the work can be minimised.
With our expert knowledge and experience, underpinning can be carried out with far less upheaval than you might expect and will enable you to enjoy peace of mind, safe in the knowledge that the condition of your home is once more safe and sound.