Common causes of Property Cracks

Common Causes of Property Cracks

Cracks in properties can be a worry, find out some of the causes of cracks

It is one of the most worrying factors when discovering cracks in your home, especially when you have a young family. Most cracks that form in the property can be resolved with relative ease, not all cracks are indicators that the property is suffering from subsidence. It could be something simple.

There are many factors to consider when discovering cracks in properties, it could be a result of seasonal thermal expansion, where the summer heat causes brickwork, windows, timber, tiles and render to expand, often resulting in cracks appearing. In such cases, it’s unlikely to lead to a serious issue. Other causes of cracks within properties can include vibration from the road, a nearby railway line, or even a construction site.

Structural explanations:

  • Subsidence is the downward movement/sinking of the ground that supports a building. These changes in ground conditions under and around a building can cause walls to move and cracks to appear. Subsidence is more common in areas with clay soil (mainly in the South of England), which can shrink in dry weather. Sandy and silty soils in the foundations can experience leaching when minerals get washed away.
  • The shrinking, drying out and degradation of construction materials like timber, plaster, and concrete.
  • Structural failure – if an element of your house has been built incorrectly and subsequently fails then this can cause cracks to appear in your home.
  • Corrosion of wall ties.
  • Failure or damage of timber lintels over windows and doors.
  • Mining – in former coal mining areas subsidence can occur.
  • Heave – refers to the upward ground movement as soil expands due to an increase in moisture content. When older trees and shrubs are removed, the ground can swell up as the moisture the tree had previously removed builds up.

Environmental explanations:

  • Thermal expansion – this usually affects long or tall brick walls and the overall superstructure of the building. Cracks occur when the brickwork is exposed to summer heat and there is a lack of sufficient control joints or expansion joints.
  • Leaks – over time leaks can cause water to get into the render and for walls to crack.
  • Freezing – ice can affect the render.
  • Decay of materials.
  • Moisture and temperature changes – significant changes in temperature and moisture like driving rain.
  • Vibration from heavy traffic.

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