We can’t ignore the warnings that it won’t be long before the cracks start to appear as Britain’s insurance industry brace themselves for the predicted surge in subsidence claims following this year’s weather conditions.
The Met Office have reported that the UK has had the driest first 6 months of the year since 1929.
As temperatures rise there is more chance of soil drying out causing the ground to shrink, the trees then drain what little moisture is left causing the ground to move. Foundations in clay soils are at particular risk as clay is more likely to shrink and swell. When the ground shrinks the foundations will literally ‘fall’ causing movement in the form of cracks coming up from the corners of doors and windows and in the corners of ceilings. Cracks that are wider at the top than the bottom are normally indicative of ground movement.
If you spot suspicious cracks, contact your insurer to start the claims process. The insurer will send an expert to examine the problem and may monitor the property for up to 12 months. Today, underpinning is rare. Most subsidence problems can be dealt with by professional removal or pruning of trees and repairs to drains, followed by a period of monitoring which is essential to measure any subsequent movement and confirm when the property has stabilised.
Removing the cause of subsidence, (trees / broken drains), will then allow the ground to return to its natural state but during this process the moisture balance of the soil will change causing the ground to swell (heave) which will push up any structures built on top of it.