A sinking floor often indicates that the ground beneath your home is collapsing in on itself, requiring immediate, urgent action. If left unattended, the dip will only grow deeper and deeper, with your flooring eventually pulling away from your walls entirely, leaving your home in ruins.
Cracks in the walls
Every home has a few cracks here and there. When they’re a cause for concern, however, is when these cracks are both on the outside and the inside of the building. You should also routinely check for cracks that are diagonal in shape, or ones that you’re able to fit your little finger into.
Your floor should sit perfectly straight. If not, it’s worth calling in the professionals – potentially saving disastrous consequences later down the line. Even if subsidence isn’t the cause, it’s still worth looking into, as bowed floors can indicate leaks – eventually filling your home with potentially harmful mold.
Cracks on the driveway
You may think that the condition of your driveway is irrelevant to the state of your home. Unfortunately, that isn’t true. If your driveway is littered with an array of drastic cracks, it’s a key sign that your house could be subject to subsidence, showing a foundation that’s tearing apart at the seams.
Windows becoming misaligned
Older buildings tend to warp out of shape over time, with the sensation not usually being a cause for concern. However, if your home moves so much that your windows no longer properly fit their frames, it’s a sign that subsidence may be on its way. Don’t ignore stubborn, jammed windows – get a professional to take a look.
Puddles around your home
If puddles are constantly pooling around your house, it could create the perfect conditions for subsidence to occur. The dampness will soften the soil that surrounds your home, destabilizing the ground that your house sits upon. This can cause your house to quite literally sink into the earth.
Extensions can be used to determine whether or not your house is at risk of subsidence. If the extension is littered with an array of slithering cracks, there’s clearly an issue. Either the extension itself wasn’t built on a solid foundation, or your home was built on less than favorable conditions.
Cracks in paths
Keep an eye on the state of your garden path. If you see any giant, deep cracks, it could be a sign that your house is on the move. While most pathways are likely to feature a few cracks here and there, it’s the deeper, more substantial ones that you need to keep an eye on.
Doors suddenly jamming
If your door suddenly won’t close properly, you may be left scratching your head in bewilderment. The most likely cause behind this strange sensation is subsidence. Warped door frames indicate a house that is physically moving, warping out of shape, meaning that your doors are now unable to close properly.
Extensions moving away from your property
If an extension seems to be slowly departing from your house inch by inch, it’s a big cause for concern. Either one of the buildings are likely built on an unstable foundation – resulting in the structure sinking into the ground, pulling away from its counterpart.
Your home begins to lean to one side
Some houses naturally slope over time. Sometimes it’s a cause for concern, but others it’s harmless. It could be a case of historic subsidence, where the building may have been stabilized and is no longer a cause for concern, having not moved for many years.
It’s frustrating to see a crease when you’ve finally finished wallpapering at the best of times – let alone when it occurs months later. If this is the case, it’s likely that subsidence is at play. The structure of your home is likely moving, causing the delicate fabric to fold in on itself.
Cracks in corners
If there’s one area of your house that you want to be crack-free, it’s the corners. Seeing out-of-place bricks or deep-rooted cracks on these integral parts of your home can spell disaster. This issue needs immediate attention – if left unattended, these cracks can cause your house to collapse in on itself.
Skirting boards separating from the wall
If it seems as though your skirting board is slowly pulling away from the wall, you may need to call in the professionals. This occurs when the very foundations of the house are on the move, with the walls pulling away from the floor. Sometimes, however, the house may naturally stabilize itself.
Bricks that aren’t perfectly aligned can show early signs of subsidence. Although this may ring alarm bells, it may be subsidence that has occurred in the past, with the building having righted itself. Of course, sometimes, it may just be down to poor workman skills.
Wonky walls usually occur when the ground beneath your home’s foundations give way, removing the building’s walls of any support. This lack of structure can make walls droop, cracking in a V-shaped pattern. This will overall put a great strain on the building, making it a potential hazard.
Trees near your home
As lovely as it is to have nature nearby, it may be to your home’s detriment. This is because trees can cause the nearby ground to dry up, due to their roots sucking up all of the earth’s moisture. The worst offenders for this are usually oaks, willows, ash, and sycamore trees.
While you don’t want the soil around your house to be too dry, you also want to avoid a home surrounded by constant dampness. A leaking drain can cause the earth becoming spongy. If this is an everyday occurrence that lasts for years, it can eventually cause drastic changes to your home’s foundation.
A home built on clay soil
Most modern homes avoid clay soil. This is because the substance can easily crack and shift during the summer heat, causing all sorts of issues for your home’s foundation. This constant fluctuation of swelling and cracking will eventually cause your home to buckle, bringing on subsidence.
Environments prone to drought
Countries that experience severe bouts of drought are known to have high numbers of subsidence. This is because the dry earth cracks and changes shape in the harsh heat, reverting back to its original shape in the wetter months. These changes naturally affect the composition of buildings, in worst case scenarios resulting in the homes collapsing in on themselves.
Poorly maintained pipes
You should be taking as much care with the outside of your home as the inside. Issues such as leaky pipes will do more than increase your water bill – they’ll also change the landscape that your home sits on. If too much water leaks in the surrounding area, it can cause your house to sink.
Nearby excavation work
Nearby building work can have negative effects on your home – particularly excavations. This is due to the repetitive vibrations weakening your homes’ foundation – particularly if these foundations weren’t in good quality to begin with. There’s little you can do other than keep an eye on the state of your home until the works pass.
If the foundations of your home are constantly exposed to high water levels, they’re likely to be wrecked with damp. This dampness can reduce the overall quality of the foundations themselves, leading to cracks, crumbling, and the eventual movement of the entire home itself.
You’ve got to be extremely unlucky for a nearby sinkhole to cause subsidence – but it’s not unheard of. The sudden onset of a sinkhole can result in the earth beneath your home changing drastically, resulting in shifting foundations that will eventually become highly unstable.
Weather can wreak havoc on a home. Too dry, and the earth cracks. Too wet, your home can sink. Unfortunately, constant, heavy frosts can also change the way your building sits, with the frost impacting the geology of the soil, resulting a change in your home’s important foundations.
A poor foundation
If your home was built on a poor foundation, there’s little you can do to prevent subsidence from occurring. A home is only as stable as its foundations, after all. If you’re purchasing a home, try to discover as much information as possible about its original foundations – it may save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run.
It may sound strange, but nearby traffic can actually affect your home’s foundations. This is due to the constant vibrations emanating through the ground. After time (usually decades), these vibrations can interfere with your home’s structure, causing it to pull away from its foundation.
Nearby building work
Constant building work can wreak havoc on your home. Deep drills and rumbling trucks can send vibrations directly from the worksite straight to the rickety foundations of your home, potentially resulting in subsidence. Keep an eye out for any warped walls, buckled floors, and sloping ceilings while the works take place.
An abundance of nearby shrubs
The more plants and shrubs near your home, the higher risk you have of experiencing subsidence. Not only can their roots interfere with your home’s foundation – it can also dry out the land, absorbing all nearby moisture. This dryness will, eventually, lead to cracked land, which is a prime environment for subsidence to occur.
Subsidence can be brought on by mining. This is because a property’s foundations may have been weakened – or even completely hollowed out – by the mining works, causing a downward movement of the ground on which the building sits. Over time, these loose foundations will cause your house to move, wreaking havoc on your home.
If you’re purchasing – or already live in – an old building, ensure you thoroughly and frequently check for any signs of subsidence. Older buildings are at a much higher risk of going askew, mainly due to them being built on unstable foundations or unsuitable soil.
In unlucky circumstances, the soil that your home sits on top of can slowly erode, leaving gaps beneath the earth. These gaps will eventually close due to the weight of your house, with the building plummeting beneath the ground. Not only will this lead to subsidence, but the appearance of sink holes is also highly likely.
One way to combat subsidence is through underpinning. This method involves raising, re-leveling and re-supporting the home with an additional foundation layer, ensuring that it doesn’t slip between the folds of the earth. Underpinning is, unfortunately, a lengthy and very expensive process due to the high level of work it requires.
If you are experiencing subsidence – not all is lost. Resin injections are perhaps the cheapest way to combat the issue, with the entire process being relatively swift and far less laborious than other methods. Speak to your surveyor to determine the best course of action and if resin injections will protect your home from subsidence.
Sometimes, it’s not subsidence at play, but settlement. This process – sometimes known as consolidation or compaction, is the downward movement of a particular site, usually brought on by a building’s weight. This often happens when vertical extensions are added to a home, pressing it down into the earth.
If you notice the ground growing up around your home, it may not be subsidence at play. It could be heaving – essentially the opposite phenomenon of subsidence. This occurs when the soil expands, resulting in upwards movement of the earth, seemingly swallowing up your home.
Landslip – not to be confused with landslides – is the downward movement of ground. If you notice a change in your home’s surroundings, it’s best to contact a surveyor. They’ll be able to accurate access what’s occurring, knowing which action to take in order to prevent any long-lasting damage to your home.
Sulphate damage usually comes about as a result of a chemical reaction – usually triggered by water from a nearby leak. The sulphates get into the filling beneath concrete slabs, gradually eroding the compound. The symptoms are usually similar to heave – so it’s best to hire a professional to discover the cause of the issue.
You’ll likely hear your home making all sorts of creaks and groans depending on the weather. Bouts of hot weather can cause your home to expand ever-so-slightly, leading to sudden noises. This is usually nothing to worry about – most houses are built with this sensation in mind.
Often, cracks on your walls are nothing at all to worry about. Every home has them at one point or another, with the home naturally bending its shape, cracking instead of collapsing. One way to tell whether a crack is a sign of subsidence or not is to measure it. If it’s less than 2mm wide, you’re safe.