One of the things that our groundwork contractors have to regularly deal with is building movement. While all buildings move to some degree, due to weather and minute geological phenomenon, these movements are usually indiscernible to the human eye. A common sign that abnormal and potentially problematic building movement has occurred is cracking. On this page, we’ve looked at the causes for cracking/building movement, and how our hard landscaping and groundworks experts help Halifax clients deal with the issue before it worsens.
Should you spot any of the symptoms detailed on this page, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 07961 224 532. As the Halifax area’s leading provider of groundwork services, we’ll quickly get to the bottom of the issue and propose how to rectify it. We offer no obligation quotes and very competitive prices, as well as an array of other services like basement underpinning.
First of all, why should you care about cracking? Well, cracks look awful and can drastically impact the curb appeal of your property, whether they’re found on the home itself or in a hard landscaping feature outside. But more importantly they can indicate a number of issues:
• Foundation failure
• Building decay
• Moisture level fluctuation
• Historic, structural defects
• Encroaching trees/foliage
• Damaged drains
• Geothermal movement
Ground movement can be caused due to clay-based soil shrinking, due to a slip in the land, a vibration or settlement. Foundation failure, on the other hand, is usually down to brick/concrete erosion over time, often due to a chemical presence.
But one cause our groundwork contractors regularly encounter in the Halifax area is poor workmanship with groundworks. A botched foundation installation may not be instantly recognisable, but a few years down the line it really starts to show. This goes for poorly handled basement underpinning, hard landscaping features etc. This is why we always recommend using a qualified and reputable groundwork services provider (like C J Lewin)!
Certain cracks are nothing to worry about. If they’re from 0.1mm-1mm, we’d advise you to decorate over them if they’re annoying you on an aesthetic level. Up to 5mm is rarely a problem, although they can be accompanied by sticking problems with window/door fixtures. Up to 15mm and you may need to repoint brickwork to ensure your property stays watertight.
Now we get to the worrisome part… 15-25mm and 25mm+ both usually indicate the need for significant groundworks or hard landscaping alterations. The former are accompanied by distorted doors and bulging walls, and often indicate the need for major structural work. The latter are dangerous. Cracks that large usually mean the structure is unstable. It’s essential you contact our professionals at your earliest convenience. As we’re located just a short drive from Halifax in Rochdale, we can be with you in a flash.
But it’s not just the size of the crack that tells you what might be wrong. Smaller, hairline cracks can just be an issue with the shrinkage of plaster (which is nothing to worry about). Stepped cracks are usually an issue with the mortar between bricks/blocks, and points to the structure moving. Vertical ones show building stresses and can be due to failed bricks/blocks. While horizontal cracks are a big red flag that could indicate a failed wall that might be in danger of collapsing.
So how do we go about strengthening compromised foundations? Underpinning. More information about this service is available here, but the essential premise is we dig under existing foundations and pour in concrete to give them a more solid base. There are a number of individual techniques within this umbrella groundwork services term, and our groundwork contractors will employ the most suitable one on a case-by-case basis. No two Halifax properties are alike, after all!