Record Number of Subsidence Cases in 2018
(January 24, 2019)

In December it was revealed that last year saw a record number of subsidence cases in Britain. In just the three-month period from July to September, UK insurance companies experienced more than 10,000 claims for damage caused by subsidence. To put this into perspective, a normal three-month period would typically experience around 2,500 subsidence-based claims.

The increase in cases compared to the previous period was the biggest jump witnessed since ABI records began, but many people have been asking themselves why it happened. Luckily, the Geobear team have put together a guide to help you understand why subsidence occurred so much last year, what it means and how to avoid it.

So, why did this significant rise occur?

The primary reason for so many cases of subsidence was the prolonged heat-wave last summer. This meant we experienced an unprecedented dry spell; virtually no rain fell in the south-east of England in June, the lowest amount recorded since 1925. This sparked an outbreak of cracks.

field with trees in dry weather causing subsidence

Why does dry weather cause subsidence?

Lack of rain leads to the shrinking of soils, resulting in movement under the foundations of structures. Meanwhile, trees and plants are also left without water during dry spells, which forces them to extend their search for water, moving their roots and causing further ground movement.

What does the increase in cases mean?

With extreme weather becoming increasingly common, subsidence poses more of a threat and cases of it are likely to continue to rise in coming years. As a result, we need to become more aware of the risk so that we can avoid it and identify cases as early as possible.

What should you look out for?

Whilst subsidence can be scary, the first thing to remember when looking for signs is not to panic as, luckily, experts like Geobear are here to help. Here are some key things to look out for to spot subsidence early:

  • Doors and windows becoming stuck. As the foundations of the building shift it is common for doors and windows to become difficult to open and close.
  • Cracks forming in walls. These can occur on both internal and external walls and are usually large and diagonal.
  • The property leaning is another tell-tale sign of underground movement which could be subsidence.
  • Movement in your home or building. Depending on the development of the case this may even result in sinking floors.
  • If the property has an extension this can often begin to move away from the main building, so stay vigilant if you live in a home which has been extended.

What should you do if you spot signs?

Call Geobear, we are always waiting to help at the first sign of a problem! Give us a call on 0800 084 3503 or email info@geobear.com.

How to avoid it?

Unfortunately, some areas and properties are simply more prone to subsidence than others. You can have a look at our useful map of the UK to see if your property could be at risk.

View our UK subsidence map

However, there are a number of manmade factors which can increase the likelihood of underground movement and staying on top of these can help to reduce your risk. Damaged drains are one easily avoidable yet common cause of subsidence- look out for signs of broken drainage and arrange for them to be fixed as quickly as possible.

There are also a number of things to look out for when buying a property which could mean that a building is susceptible to subsidence. Check the area’s history of mining as historic mine shafts can be a contributing factor. Heavy nearby traffic is another cause as it leads to ground vibration, so try to avoid this if possible. Whilst homes built on clay soils can also be at risk due to the soluble nature of the soil.

Ultimately, there is no sure fire way to avoid subsidence completely, but staying up-to-date with Geobear by checking our latest reports, webinars and more means that you can be as prepared as possible for another record year of subsidence.