What The Heck Is Subsidence? And What Can You Do About It?
We like to believe that our brick-and-mortar properties will be with us for the long haul. After all, there are plenty of buildings that have been standing for hundreds of years, and they don’t show any signs of spontaneous collapse.
Unfortunately, not every property owner is so lucky. While most people avoid catastrophic damage to their buildings, a sizable chunk doesn’t.
What Is Subsidence?
Subsidence is a leading cause of damaged buildings. It happens when the ground underneath the home starts to move. Once-stable soil moves into previously unknown voids, bringing the rest of the building with it. In extreme cases, it can lead to demolition. But mostly, it weakens the foundations and necessitates hefty repair work.
Foundation experts such as Pinnacle Foundation Repair encounter subsidence issues all the time. It’s a leading cause of cracked walls and misshapen door frames. When the ground underneath a property moves, it puts stress on the superstructure, moving everything out of place.
What Can You Do About Subsidence?
Subsidence sounds serious – and, unfortunately – it usually is. So what can you do about it?
Look For The Signs
The first thing to do is start looking for the signs that the ground underneath your property is moving. If you notice that parts of your building are changing shape unexpectedly, it could be that the ground underneath is moving.
Look out for the following:
- Cracks in the walls
- Misshapen driveways, patio area, and paths (especially those close to your property)
- Misaligned or damaged windows
- Skirting boards that are moving away from the wall
- Puddles forming around the perimeter of your home instead of draining away
Contact Your Insurer
Most home insurance policies cover subsidence. Usually, there is very little the homeowner can do about it ahead of time. And, many times, surveyors can’t predict it.
Fortunately, if you are insured, you can begin the process of making your property safe. Insurers will provide a full survey to assess your building’s structure. If they find evidence of subsidence, they’ll suggest you get immediate repairs. There are two options here: resin injections and underpinning. Let’s discuss both of them.
Concrete underpinning is the old fashioned way of supporting the foundations and ensuring the survival of the building. Typically it involves re-leveling the substructure with a new poured concrete foundation layer. The process takes a long time, and it usually means vacating the property while contractors carry out the work.
Get Resin Injections
The other option is resin injection. Here, contractors inject a resin polymer under the property at specific points and then leave it to expand. As the material inflates, it provides the additional lift the building needs to make it level again.
This latter option usually only takes a few hours. And, unlike underpinning, you won’t have to leave the house as builders carry out the work in most situations.
Repair Any Remaining Cracks
Lastly, you’ll need to repair any cracks caused by the subsidence. Remember, foundation repair only corrects the foundation itself. It won’t reverse any existing damage to your masonry.