Home » Subsidence: The Underlying Cause of Structural Issues

Subsidence: The Underlying Cause of Structural Issues

(October 25, 2023)

Subsidence isn’t overly common. But it is one of the most major structural issues that a house, or a commercial building, can have. In this article, we be discussing what subsidence is, its signs and how to prevent it. We will also be touching on what causes the problem, together with how it can be fixed in the long term.

 

What is subsidence?

Subsidence is a structural issue that can apply to any property or building, whether it be commercial or domestic. It occurs when the ground underneath the foundations becomes unstable or if the foundations themselves are starting to deteriorate. This often leads to the movement of the property itself. As a result, it causes significant cracks to appear, both internally and externally. 

Eventually, it can cause the building to lean to one side. It is dangerous because subsidence can hinder the integrity of a building. In rare cases, it eventually causes the building to collapse under its own weight. This is why subsidence is an important issue to be aware of, and why many homeowners make it their mission to know the signs. 

However, if you do suspect that your property is subsiding, there are solutions to the problem by way of underpinning, and Geobear can do that for you. Before we get onto how subsidence can be fixed, let’s discuss the signs, the causes and how to prevent it from happening in the first place.

 

What are the signs of subsidence?

There are multiple signs to look out for when it comes to a house or a property that is subsiding. Rarely will a subsiding house display no sign, but just in case you’re in doubt, we can offer meticulous subsidence survey services here at Geobear. Our qualified, specialist team will inspect your property, looking for signs that subsidence might be occurring. If so, we will offer you an underpinning solution that will meet your needs. You can look for signs of subsidence yourself, keeping an eye out for the following things:

  • Cracks in walls, ceilings and floors
  • Gaps around door frames and windows
  • An extension that’s coming away from the rest of the house
  • Noticeable cracks in external mortar lines, typically appearing in a zig-zag fashion
  • Sloping driveways, patios or garden paths
  • Doors and/or windows that are jammed shut
  • Doors and/or windows that are difficult to open
  • The property is noticeably leaning to one side

 

What causes subsidence?

Subsidence is something that could happen due to several factors. Most commonly, it’s a combination of two or more issues that are associated with the building, whether it be the soil the foundations sit on or the age of the property. However, there are many more causes of subsidence that not everyone is aware of, and it might surprise you to learn what those risk factors are. Let’s take a look in more detail:

  • Planting bushes, trees and shrubs too close to the property – roots can penetrate the ground to a considerable level and soak up the moisture in the soil, causing it to shrink. Some roots can be strong enough, also, to damage brickwork and, even, the foundations themselves
  • A property that has been built on clay soil – clay soil is an issue because it expands when it’s wet and shrinks when the weather is dry. This movement in soil can cause the foundations to shift, even if the foundations are in good condition
  • Leaking drains and/or outdoor taps – anything that constantly leaks water onto your property will contribute to subsidence. This is because the area will constantly be filled with expanding soil and, much like clay soil, it will shrink when the weather turns dry
  • A property that has been built on the site of a disused mine or quarry – ground that has been previously mined will cause it to become weaker, which can cause issues with regards to subsidence

 

How to fix subsidence: non-disruptive technology from Geobear

Geobear can rectify cases of subsidence using a variety of underpinning solutions, but one of the most popular options is our non-disruptive resin injection technology. Essentially, we will inject the ground with resin, which will run along all of the gaps and voids that lie under the ground, expanding as it goes along. As it hardens, it will reinforce the ground and stabilise the soil, restoring strength and stability in your building foundations. 

It’s deemed non-disruptive because we will not need to dig up the garden, your patio or your driveway to execute underpinning solutions. It’s a solution that is perfect for those who are busy because it’s quick, simple and completely mess-free. Having underpinning carried out is, really, one of the only ways to fix subsidence, but other underpinning methods are aside from the resin injection method, including the following:

  • Mass concrete underpinning
  • Piled underpinning
  • Jet grouting

 

How to prevent subsidence

Preventing subsidence is a simple task, if your house does not sit on clay soil. Sometimes, subsidence is inevitable depending on the quality of your soil and the age of the foundations. However, there are ways to prevent subsidence from happening at all or, at least, slow down the process considerably. Here are some of the ways in which you could prevent subsidence issues, whether it be your domestic property or your commercial premises:

  • Don’t plant trees or shrubs too close to your home
  • Check how long and thick plant roots grow before planting them in the ground
  • Replace leaking drain pipes 
  • Fix dripping taps
  • Brush water away if it’s sitting on your driveway or patio
  • Make sure you have ACO drains, or soak-away drains, fitted where appropriate
  • Ensure water runs away from your home, rather than towards it

 

Geobear is able to provide a range of different underpinning solutions that will suit you and your property. Whether you opt for the resin injection method or a more conventional underpinning solution, we will always be on hand to rectify your subsidence issue. If you would like further information, get in touch with a member of our professional, highly-trained team today – we’re always pleased to hear from you.

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