Foundations are one of the most structurally significant parts of any home, however, it’s important to understand that buildings can and will move – and why. Cardiff-based ground engineers Mainmark share five tips to help identify and protect your biggest asset from subsidence.
1. Know the signs of subsidence
Identify the signs of subsidence early and act without delay. Every home is different, and the signs may not be immediately obvious, so it helps to know what to look for. Sinking or sloping floors, cracks in walls, paths and driveways may be the first signs of structural issues caused by subsidence. Windows and doors becoming jammed or misaligned, skirting boards separating from the wall or the formation of puddles around the perimeter of your home may also indicate foundation ground issues.
2. When to worry about cracks in walls
While smaller hairline cracks in walls are common and not usually cause for concern, large cracks may appear because the property’s foundation has shrunk or lost its strength, causing all or a part of a building to sink. Problematic wall cracks typically start at windows, doorways or corners of buildings, and are often zig-zag/stepped cracks in brickwork which usually follow the mortar lines. They are typically wider than 5mm or big enough to insert your little finger into.
3. Be aware of soil conditions beneath your home
Soil types commonly encountered in residential areas include reactive clay, sand and silt, and organic soils. Each has different characteristics; for example, clay soil can shrink, or crack and shift during hot weather, and then expand during wetter seasons.
4. Consider the different solutions available
Modern remediation solutions can be applied with minimal impact. They are also non-invasive, fast and cost effective when compared to traditional underpinning methods, with homes often re-levelled within a day, without any need for occupants to vacate the property or move furniture.
5. Always seek expert advice
If signs of subsidence have appeared, consult structural and geotechnical engineers or ground engineering experts.