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The Effects of Subsidence & How to Fix it

As a major, potentially serious problem, subsidence is something that every homeowner dreads. Whether you own a brand new, modern home or a traditional-style office building, subsidence can strike when you least expect it, and for a variety of reasons. From tree roots and hot weather to uneven ground and ill-prepared foundations, subsidence is something that, often, cannot be prevented – but it can be easily rectified.

In this article, we’ll be detailing exactly why subsidence should be dealt with as a matter of urgency, together with a fast, highly-effective solution that’ll stand the test of time.

What is subsidence?

Subsidence occurs when the ground beneath a building begins to sink, subsequently causing the property’s foundation to be pulled down with it. In turn, this can cause both exterior and interior walls, floors, driveways and garden paths to shift and eventually crack, putting the integrity of the entire building at risk.

It’s vital for property owners to be aware of the signs of subsidence early on to start with subsidence repairs immediately. Measures such as improving drainage, avoiding planting large trees near structures, and consulting with structural engineers can mitigate risks and safeguard the building’s longevity.

It can be easy to spot signs of subsidence before it becomes a significant problem, including:

  • Cracks in interior or exterior walls, particularly around windows or door frames
  • Noticeable ripples or wrinkles in wallpaper
  • Doors either becoming jammed or harder to open and close
  • Windows that you struggle to open and close
  • Puddles around the outside of the house
  • Cracks in driveways or garden paths
  • Sloping floors

It can be difficult for a homeowner to pinpoint exactly what it is that’s causing the subsidence. Although it is more common in older buildings, new build properties can also succumb to the problem. There could be a number of different factors at play that are causing the subsidence of your home, including:

  • Heavy, persistent rainfall over a long period of time – this can make the ground uneven as it has the potential to wash soil away, therefore making it more likely that the ground will move or shift
  • Clay or soil shrinkage caused by extensive periods of hot or warm weather – the heat can draw moisture out of the ground, causing it to shrink and leave voids, allowing for loose, dry earth and clay to fall into the gaps
  • Tree roots – tree roots will burrow into the ground in order to reach the water it needs to survive. As it draws up the moisture from the ground, it can cause the clay and soil to shrink, thus leaving the ground unstable
  • Poorly prepared foundations – this is more common in new build houses, but if the ground underneath the foundation of the house hasn’t been prepared properly, then subsidence is likely to occur

The effects of subsidence

Despite the fact that your house insurance covers you should subsidence occur, it’s still considered to be every homeowners’ worst nightmare, and for good reason. Not only does it put the overall structural integrity of your home at risk, but it also threatens to put the occupants, neighbours, pedestrians and even motorists driving in close proximity to your house, in danger.

A house can fall within five different categories, with category one meaning that hairline cracks are visible and little action needs to be taken and category five meaning that cracks are around 25mm wide, walls are leaning, windows are breaking and timbers are snapping. Category five generally means that the house could fall down at any moment. Category two, however, is for situations where cracks are around 3mm wide and, according to the experts,  a solution needs to be found in this instance as soon as possible to prevent the subsidence from progressing to a dangerous level.

Many homeowners will find a suitable solution to their subsidence problem before their property is classed as a category five risk, but for those who, for whatever reason, cannot have the subsidence issue resolved, it can cause misery – the effects of subsidence can be felt on a personal, emotive level as well as from a structural point of view.

For those who would rather sell on a property with a persistent history of subsidence, they may well struggle. According the Independent, “mortgage lenders may be reluctant to lend on affected buildings”, although there are some mortgage lenders who will “consider properties with a history of subsidence if there has been no recent movement” or if a structural engineer verifies that the method used to rectify the problem has worked and will continue to do so for some years to come.

From buying a house with a history or susceptibility to subsidence, to insuring the property or even selling it on, subsidence can put many obstacles and hurdles in the way for everyone along the property chain, making it all the more important to sort the problem as soon as possible by using a reliable, innovative solution, such as the resin injection method.

How can subsidence be rectified?

Due to the seriousness of subsidence, it’s important that the situation is resolved as safely and as effectively as possible and the resin injection method can provide such a solution. It can be a difficult, overwhelming task to have to deal with subsidence within the home, but through the use of a resin injection, you’ll be able to have the issue resolved all without having to move out of your home. 

With Geobear, all work can be carried out with minimal disruption to your everyday life and, most of the time, it can all be done without needing internal access. The expert engineers at Geobear are highly-skilled to deliver exceptional results. Crucially, unlike traditional underpinning, there is no excavation or digging at all and the repair usually takes one day.

Firstly, a 16mm hole is drilled directly into the ground beneath in order to reach the affected areas. After that, a geopolymer resin is carefully injected into the weakened ground below. Once the resin has been injected, it will immediately start to expand in and around the soils, hardening at an impressive rate.

You can rest assured that the resin will be 90% cured within just 15 minutes of its application, ensuring that your home is structurally sound once again in no time at all. In some cases, as the resin begins to expand, you’ll start to notice cracks disappearing as the foundations are gradually lifted – the image below illustrates how the resin injection method is carried out by Geobear.

The work Geobear performs is guaranteed to last for up to ten years, restoring your property to its full, healthy structure and aesthetic, enabling you to enjoy your home for many more years to come. So, if subsidence threatens the integrity of your house or another building you own, get in touch with Geobear for a fast, successful, innovative solution to an otherwise complicated problem.