What Are the Signs of Structural Problems?
18 May 2021
Structural damage can be a serious problem if not fixed early enough. It is a big problem if you are looking to buy or sell a property and is obviously, a potential deal breaker for buyers. So, how can you tell if your house is suffering with some form of structural damage? Our latest article will explain what signs to look out for and how structural damage can be repaired.
What Is Classified As a Structural Problem?
There are different types of structural problems that can occur, and depending on the type of structural damage this can impact the level of damage that can occur. Structural issues can vary from poor design of the building to structural issues that have developed since the building was first built. It is often thought that structural damage occurs as a result of old age, but in reality it can also happen to new builds as well.
What Are the Signs of Structural Damage?
Cracks in Walls
Having cracks in walls might seem like a problem that just needs fixing, but it can also mean there is a more serious underlying issue that needs rectifying. The type of problem can vary depending on if the cracks are running vertical, diagonal, or horizontal. Having a small hairline fracture though is not usually a big concern as this occurs in most house foundations.
Subsidence is one of the main reasons why you can have cracks in walls. This is caused by the ground underneath the property collapsing and taking some of the house’s foundations with it. If you are worried about subsidence at your property, then talk to a specialist structural engineer who may be able to explain further what the best option is to stop subsidence from occurring.
Bowing or bulging walls occurs when the walls of the property begin to “lean” or point out which can lead to a decrease in the wall’s stability. Having bowed walls can occur for the following reasons:
- The walls are not thick enough for the height of the property
- The vibrations from heavy nearby traffic
- There is a lack of restraints from the wall and floor joists
- There has been an increase in pressure from the additional floors being added onto the building
Cracks in Windowsills
Having cracks in windowsills can be caused by having a damp problem or water finding its way through to the sill through another method. Having your windowsill replaced is not the best option and will only delay the problem occurring again in the future. The most appropriate plan of attack is to have a specialist surveyor investigate the source of the problem and provide solutions to rectify the issue.
Windows and Doors Are Not Opening and Shutting Properly
If the windows and doors struggle to open and close, then this could be a sign of a potential structural issue with your property. It is wise to get your property checked for the possibility of foundation movement. We recommend that if your windows and doors are not opening and closing as they should be looked into, to eliminate the possibility of structural issues.
Cracks in Window Lintels
Cracks appearing on the window lintels is another sign that the building is shifting, and that the lintel that supports the masonry above the window is starting to fail or even has failed. This problem should not be overlooked as there is a real chance of your lintel and surrounding wall collapsing.
Cracks in Bricks
If you are seeing cracks on the exterior or interior areas of the bricks then this most likely due to the foundation problems around the property. If the foundations are moving, then you will see horizontal cracks appearing on the mortar joints.
A Leaning or Cracked Chimney
Having a cracked or leaning chimney doesn’t necessary mean that you are having structural problems, though this should be investigated by a structural surveyor, it could mean that you are being affected by foundation issues. If you are seeing any signs of a cracked chimney, then make sure this is looked into quickly, as there is danger of the chimney collapsing.
What to Do Next If You Are Seeing Signs of Structural Damage?
If you are seeing any of the signs of structural damage listed above, then there are various ways these can be rectified. This can include the additions of lateral restraints, wall tie replacement, and masonry protection cream. All these methods are used to stop the further movement of your property and provide the extra protection that is needed.
If you book a survey with one of our specialists, they can provide a full inspection of the property and will detail in a report the potential source of the problem. The surveyor will then provide advice on what the next steps are to rectify your specific structural problem.
To find out the full extent of the structural problem though you must consult with a building surveyor or a structural engineer.
We would always recommend contacting a professional as the earlier you spot the problem potentially the easier it is to fix. You can contact one of our professionals here at Timberwise simply by calling 0800 288 8660 or via contact us form online.