Structural damage in a property is not uncommon, and can range from the glaringly obvious, such as a huge crack in the wall, to something that is barely visible. Being able to recognise the early warning signs is half the battle of finding the cure. In this post, we’re going highlight the six most common signs of a potential structural problem to help you spot the early warning signs.
- Bowing or bulging walls
Bowing, leaning or bulging walls is usually a result of decreasing wall stability and can be a result of the following:
- Vibrations from heavy traffic or plant machinery over a prolonged period.
- An increase in the load put on the floor, an example of this is when additional floors have been added to an existing property.
- Walls that are too thin for the height of the property.
- A lack of restraints between the walls and the floor joists, partitions and beams.
- Cracking to window lintels
Cracking to window lintels is a tell-tell sign of movement within a structure and shows that the lintel that supports the masonry above the window has failed. The threat of collapse is very real in many circumstances and a crack in the lintel should never be overlooked.
- Cracks to window sills.
Cracks in window sills are often a visible sign of another problem. Often this problem is due to damp, or water getting into the sill in some way or another. Replacing the window sill is not the solution to this problem, a full diagnostic survey should be carried out to find and treat the source of the problem.
- Vertical and horizontal cracking in walls and floor.
Cracking can be a sign of subsidence and must be addressed as soon as you spot them to stop any further damage being caused. If you are worried about subsidence in your property talk to one of our surveyors to find out more.
- Doors and windows that stick when opening and closing.
This is very common in older properties and is usually caused due to distortion, and like the cracks that can occur in window sills, is normally caused by another more serious problem. Once again usually due to water either in the soil or in the frames of the windows or doors, a survey will need to be carried out to determine the exact cause and treatment.
- Bowing or sagging in the roof.
Bowing or sagging in a roof can be a very worrying sign and is not something to be ignored. Often caused by a structural problem, it is vital that you seek professional advice before making any changes to your roof.
The danger with structural problems is that in the early stages most visible signs don’t seem like a big problem but, if left un-addressed can turn into something far more serious. Ignoring a structural problem will not only make the problem worse, but it will also make it harder to rectify and much costlier.
Our advice is to address any problem as soon as you spot it, it might turn out to be nothing serious, but if it is, the problem can be dealt with straight away.
What to do if there are signs of structural problems in your property
Structural problems are resolved in various ways, from tree removal, wall tie replacement, the addition of lateral restraints, or underpinning. All of which are designed to stop further movement of your property.
To fully understand the problem, we advise you to consult with either a Building Surveyor or Structural Engineer. They will advise on the next steps and are fully qualified carry out a structural survey to detail the problem.
If you are purchasing a property and are concerned there may be structural damage, your Homebuyers Survey or a more in-depth structural survey will identify any structural issues and may include recommendations to speak to a Helifix Approved Contractor. This is where ProTen Services can help, we work with Structural Engineers to carry out wall tie and other structural surveys on their recommendation.
If you are unsure of the steps to take or are concerned about a structural problem and simply need advice, then speak to a member of our structural team here
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