When Should I Worry About
Cracks in My House? Is it broken drains?

Cracks in a house can be a source of anxiety for homeowners, prompting questions about their significance and potential implications. It’s essential to recognise that not all cracks are created equal; some may be innocent while others can signal underlying structural issues that demand immediate attention.

UK Property Owners: The Hidden Dangers of Broken Drains

Domestic drainage damage can be avoided when you are proactive in protecting your home drains. How many of these housekeeping basics does your family have in place? Catching issues early is key to preventing leaks or deterioration that require extensive repairs down the road.

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Call us on 0333 1300592 if suspect any or all of the following symptoms:

Unexplained water accumulation is one symptom to watch for. If you notice water pooling in areas around your property, such as near the foundation, driveway, or patio, it could be a sign of a drainage issue. Along with water accumulation and dampness, a stinky smell in the air around drains or pipes can indicate a blockage or other issue impeding proper drainage.

Damp or wet patches on walls or floors can also signal drainage problems, especially in basements or cellars. The water likely indicates leaking from a drain or pipe within the walls or foundation.

If your sinks, baths, or toilets are draining slowly or not draining at all, a clogged or damaged drainage system could be preventing proper water flow.

  1. Regular Drain Cleaning: Schedule regular drain cleaning to remove blockages and prevent buildup.

  2. Avoid Flushing Non-Flushables: Don’t flush non-biodegradable items like wipes, paper towels, or feminine hygiene products down the toilet.

  3. Be Mindful of What You Pour Down Drains: Avoid pouring grease, oil, or harsh chemicals down drains, as these substances can clog pipes.

  4. Regularly Check for Leaks and Promptly Address: Inspect your pipes and drains for leaks or signs of damage. Don’t ignore signs of drainage problems; address them promptly to prevent more significant issues from developing.

Finally, cracks in walls or floors near drains or pipes may point to structural issues caused by chronic drainage problems or water leaks underground. Constant moisture seeping into the foundation can cause shifting, settling, or deterioration over time.

When we request an on-site property assessment, we conduct a drain survey as part of our checklist. Contact Us to arrange a convenient date for you today.

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Size and Width of Cracks in Walls

  • Hairline Cracks less than 5mm: The wider the crack is, the greater the cause for concern. Cracks of less than 5 millimetres wide are usually a crack in the plaster, rather than the wall itself, and can be filled and decorated over.
  • Wider Cracks: Cracks between 5mm and 15mm wide are more likely to be serious and may need professional repairs. Any crack bigger than 25mm wide should definitely be examined by a professional. If the crack is wider at the top than the bottom, and visible on both the outside and inside of your home, you might have subsidence.

Water Damage – Be Mindful of What You Pour Down Drains

  • Water Stains: Cracks accompanied by water stains are a cause for immediate concern. Water infiltration can lead to mould growth, and wood rot, and therefore compromise the structural integrity of the building. Identifying and addressing the source of water entry is crucial to preventing further damage.

It’s best to stop bad habits in the kitchen when cooking, young adults who are learning homecooking from others would benefit from a simple explanation of why we shouldn’t pour fat down the plughole, for example.

Scrape food scraps into the bin: Instead of rinsing waste food scraps down the sink, scrape them into a bin or compostable container. This will significantly reduce the amount of solid waste entering your drains. While food scraps may seem small and insignificant, they can easily get caught in the bends and traps of your drainage system. As more food particles accumulate, they can form solid masses that block the passage of wastewater.

Wipe up grease and oil: After cooking, wipe up any excess grease or oil with a paper towel or rag before washing your dishes. You can also pour the cooled-down grease or oil into a container that can be sealed and disposed of properly. When grease or oil cools down, it solidifies and clings to the insides of your pipes. Over time, this buildup can create stubborn clogs that obstruct the flow of wastewater.

Choose eco-friendly cleaners: Opt for eco-friendly cleaning products that are less harsh on your drainage system. If you must use a drain cleaner, follow the instructions carefully and avoid using it excessively. Harsh chemicals, such as those found in drain cleaners, can damage the materials used in your drainage system. Over time, this exposure can weaken pipes and increase the risk of leaks and breakdowns.

Postcode Hotspots in London for Subsidence Indications

Do you know the signs of subsidence with London Clay? Do you live in and around London? Check East London postcodes, North and South London areas to learn more about the soil composition and the foundations that Roman Londinium was built on.

Location of Wall Cracks

  • Exterior Walls: Cracks on exterior walls can be more concerning than those on interior walls. Exterior cracks might indicate issues with the foundation, soil settlement, or water damage. Horizontal cracks on exterior walls are particularly noteworthy and may suggest foundation problems.
  • Near Doors and Windows: Cracks in proximity to doors and windows can be indicative of structural issues, especially if they affect the frames. If doors and windows are sticking or if there are visible gaps, it may be a sign of movement in the structure.

Pattern of Cracks

  • Vertical Cracks: Vertical cracks are commonly observed and are often less worrisome than horizontal or diagonal cracks. Vertical cracks are usually caused by normal settling and may not necessitate immediate attention.
  • Horizontal or Diagonal Cracks: Cracks running horizontally or diagonally across walls are more likely to be associated with structural problems. These cracks may signify issues with the foundation, such as excessive soil pressure or even water damage.

Changes Over Time

  • Stable Cracks: Cracks that remain stable over time, showing no signs of widening or lengthening, are generally less concerning. It’s crucial to monitor these cracks regularly and note any changes.
  • Progressive Cracks: If cracks are expanding or changing over time, it could indicate ongoing structural movement. Progressive cracks should be investigated promptly, as they may signify an active problem that requires intervention.

Accompanying Symptoms

  • Doors and Windows Sticking: Difficulty in opening or closing doors and windows can be associated with structural movement. If these issues coincide with cracks, it may indicate a need for structural assessment.
  • Uneven Floors: Floors that become uneven may suggest problems with the foundation. An uneven floor can be a result of soil settlement or shifts in the structural integrity of the building.

What Should I Do If I Have Cracks in My Walls?

Professional Assessment

  • Consulting Experts: When in doubt, it’s advisable to seek the expertise of professionals, such as structural engineers or a subsidence repair company. These experts can conduct a thorough assessment, identifying the root cause of the cracks and providing recommendations for repairs if necessary.
  • Diagnostic Tools: Structural engineers often use specialised tools and techniques, such as laser levels and inclinometers, to measure structural movement accurately. This diagnostic approach helps in understanding the severity of the issue and formulating an appropriate remediation plan.

Subsidence Assessment UK

While small cracks are a common occurrence in houses and may not necessarily indicate a problem, larger, wider, or progressive cracks, especially when accompanied by other symptoms, should not be ignored. Regular monitoring, coupled with professional assessment when needed, is essential for ensuring the structural integrity of your home. Addressing potential issues early can prevent further damage and mitigate the need for more extensive and costly repairs down the line. If in doubt, consulting with experts will provide you with the necessary insights to make informed decisions about the maintenance and safety of your home.

We offer a free evaluation and quote on any suspected subsidence. Get in touch today, call us on 0333 1300592 or fill out our simple enquiry form and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

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