4.4million homeowners don’t know what subsidence is or how to spot it

Here's what to look out for
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  • Subsidence happens when the earth underneath your house becomes unstable, so the foundations sink. Don’t worry, until now, we didn’t know much about it either.

    New research by LV= shows that, as a nation, we’re not too clued up on it. So the insurance company is highlighting the warning signs and how to stop it from happening to your home.

    cottage that has faced subsidence

    Image credit: Alamy

    Over half of homeowners in the UK identified false signs of subsidence when they were asked what to look out for. Plus, almost one in five had noticed potential signs of subsidence, but a quarter didn’t take any action.

    Martin Milliner, Claims Director at LV= General Insurance comments that heatwaves and hot weather can spark potential problems. ‘During the summer months, intense heat can affect our foundations and lead to subsidence,’ says Martin.

    ‘Especially if your home is built on clay soil. Our research has found that many homeowners don’t fully understand the significant signs of subsidence, and we want to help consumers be confident enough to spot them at an early stage.’

    brick wall that has faced subsidence

    Image credit: Alamy

    Martin adds that many homeowners don’t know if their buildings insurance covers subsidence, and recommends we check to avoid a costly problem in the future.

    Signs to look out for:

    1. Distinctive diagonal cracks appearing at the edges of windows and doors – usually wider at the top than the bottom and around 3mm thick or thicker than a 10p coin
    2. Tilting large trees outside the home
    3. Sinking foundations or sloping floors
    4. Bulging floorboards
    5. Sinking or dips in pathway or driveway
    6. Doors or windows stick for no reason, or close easily in winter but not summer
    7. Tearing wallpaper not caused by damp
    brick wall with gap caused by structural movement

    Image credit: Alamy

    Clay or sandy areas can experience subsidence – shrinkage and soil erosion are key causes. But 55% of us don’t know what type of soil our homes are built on.

    If you’re worried about subsidence and live in a clay soil area, there are ways of keeping the soil hydrated to prevent problems. For example, you can lay gravel or grass which will help water and drain it naturally.

    Those in sandy areas can prevent water softening the soil by checking pipes and drainage systems for leaks. You can also prune trees and large shrubs to prevent soil from drying out – ask a tree specialist for guidance if needed.

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