Put simply, subsidence is a downward movement of the earth under your property. Movement which can cause structural damage if enough of it occurs.

Sinkholes, as we all know, can certainly cause downward movement of earth – sometimes quickly, catastrophically and tragically. But they are not the only cause of ground movement. Let’s take a look at some of the other causes of subsidence:


Verandas and other extensions, especially if not built on the same stable foundation as your house, can pull on the main structure. Cracks will usually occur close to where the extension joins the house, but not always. If this is the cause, structural work will be needed.


The popular idea that large tree roots cause subsidence is not quite accurate. It’s actually the tiny hair-like roots that do the damage. Trees can cause the soil around the foundations to shrink by removing moisture, thus causing movement.

Drastic measures may not be needed for this, depending on the damage. Sometimes it is enough to detect the offending tree and prune it back. Cut back the branches, the roots die back accordingly.

Drains and Pipes

A leaking pipe can undermine your foundation like a miniature a sink hole. This depends largely on the size and location of the leak and also on the type of soil your house is sitting on. Click here for more information on leaking water pipes.

Ground Vibrations

Have you ever lived so close to the road that the dew shakes from the trees in the morning when a Hummer drives past? I have. Ground vibrations may seem like an unlikely cause of subsidence, but it’s by no means impossible.

Warning Signs – What to Look For

Cracks in the Brickwork, Walls and Ceiling

Cracks are hard to miss, especially large ones, but don’t freak out just yet,not all cracks are serious. In a newly -built property, settlement can sometimes cause the odd crack; it’s just the building bedding down.However, anything an eighth of an inch or wider is worth paying attention to, especially if it is wider at the top. Cracks that seem to be getting wider are also a problem.

Doors and Windows Sticking

If your doors or windows are starting to bind, something has moved. You may also see cracks in the walls at the corners and edges.

Rippling Wallpaper

Ripples in your wallpaper can be caused by damp, but if it’s not damp, it could be caused by the wall moving and cracking.

Does any of This Sound Familiar?

If you’re concerned that you might have a subsidence problem, seek expert advice. Repairs can be costly and time consuming, but not always. Some cases have to be monitored for months to determine the extent of the movement, others aren’t moving at all.

Although underpinning is the remedy most commonly associated with subsidence, you may not have to go that far. Take the time to get the big picture and get yourself some trustworthy advice.

If you are concerned that you may be sitting on a potential sink hole; slumping fences and trees, ponds suddenly forming and vegetation mysteriously dying;check this link for the latest advice.

Good Luck.

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