There are many problems a property could have that could result in damage to its structural integrity; ranging from the easily noticeable, to the barely there. Identifying structural problems is half the battle. Something that doesn’t seem like a big problem at first can worsen to the point that it becomes much more difficult to rectify. That’s why it’s important to address the warning signs early on and, where possible, take preventative measures to minimise the risks of such problems occurring.
Damp & Rot
A great deal of structural problems are the result of damp and rot. Eventually, damp will cause door and window frames to rot, it will weaken the rafters in the roof as well as causing potential to damage the floor joists. Therefore, it’s essential to deal with damp problems before it gets serious enough to cause these costly issues. Eliminate areas where moisture could cause damage; this can include repairing any cracks as soon as you notice them, repairing damaged guttering, applying waterproof paint to exterior walls and reducing the moisture in the air by using a dehumidifier.
Signs that you might have damp or rot to look out for:
- A damp and musty smell around the area.
- Mould or mildew forming on a wall.
- Dark patches on walls.
- Peeling wallpaper or blistering paintwork.
- Discolouring and fragmenting of plaster work.
- Decay of timber by wood rotting fungi or the presence of wood-boring weevils.
Trees & Shrubbery
Believe it or not, trees can cause subsidence of foundations. If the roots of a tree grow near the base of the property’s foundation, they can extract water from the soil which causes movement of the ground that supports the building (this is particularly true with clay foundations). To prevent any potential foundation subsidence, be sure to prune the tree’s crown and roots; this will reduce the amount of moisture that gets sucked out of the soil. It’s not always a good idea to cut the tree down because the earth can then become waterlogged and without the roots absorbing the water, it’s possible for the soil to expand and cause an upward shift which can be just as big a problem as subsidence.
Signs of trees causing subsistence or damage to the foundations of your property:
- Vertical and horizontal cracking concentrated in specific areas tapering in width between the top and bottom of the crack.
- Cracks extending through the damp proof course into the foundations.
- External cracking that is reflected internally in the same area of the wall.
- Sicking windows and doors, which can be caused by distortions.
- Cracks appearing after long periods of dry weather.
- Seasonal opening and closing of cracks.
Regularly checking the condition of your roof is a good indicator of any potential structural damage. For better accuracy, look at the building from a distance, if the ridge of the roof doesn’t look straight and is sagging at the ends or in the middle then there is likely a problem with the load-bearing walls. Check for any missing shingles or leaks, if you find either it’s a good indicator of separation to the structure. It’s easier to identify any ‘slumping’ by visually checking the verticality of the outside walls.
Signs of structural damage visible on the roof of your property:
- Bowing or sagging in the middle of the roof.
- Missing tiles.
- Damp patches and leaks inside the roof or attic.
It’s important to remember that although there are a few identifiable warning signs in relation to structural damage, there are instances when damage is not immediately obvious. In these cases the only way to find out what’s what is to rely on the expertise of a professional.
Here at ProTen Services we offer a wide range of surveys to determine if a property is structurally sound. We are also able to help fix many structural problems including concrete repair and our maintenance team are available to help make good any aesthetic damage that may have been caused.
Basements & Waterproofing
Structural & Concrete Repair