Having sinks that overflow and water that won’t drain away are the problems that most people associate with blocked drains, but sometimes there can be much worse complications.
It’s important to call out the experts if you think your drains are blocked sooner rather than later, before serious damage is caused to your property.
Here’s a look at what happens when you have leaking drains and how it can cause subsidence in your home.
What is subsidence?
Subsidence is the one problem that many homeowners fear as it has the potential to cause very significant structural issues.
Caused by the movement of the foundations, subsidence occurs when the ground that the property is built on starts to shift and move.
This movement in the ground causes the structure to become unstable which manifests as cracks, usually around vulnerable spots such as windows and doors.
How to tell if you have subsidence
One of the first signs that you have subsidence is the appearance of cracks within your property. It’s important to stress that not all cracks are a sign of subsidence and there’s special features you can look out for.
Cracks which are diagonal and wider at the top than the bottom can be an indication that the property is suffering from subsidence.
How do drains contribute?
The purpose of drains is to remove waste water and materials from your property and into the sewage system so this means they travel into the ground below your home.
If your drains are not well maintained and become blocked, leaks can occur as the pressure builds up. This allows water to leak out and into the soil beneath your foundations. This gradually causes softening and erosion, leading to movement, loss of volume and weakness. Some types of soil are more prone than others, as clay soil is more resilient than sandy soil for example.
This leaching of water into the ground causes uneven movement, putting pressure on the structure of the property and causing cracks to appear.
What can be done?
Identifying subsidence needn’t be the end of the world as it’s possible to fix the problem if you spot it early enough, but it’s not a cheap piece of work.
In some cases, the property will need underpinning to prevent it from sinking any further, and this is an expensive project. It can also mean you won’t be able to get insurance for your home in the future.
But before you take any action to rectify the subsidence, you’ll first need to deal with the issue with the drains, otherwise it will simply recur. A drains survey can identify where the problem lies, allowing the leaks and blockages to be dealt with swiftly and with the minimum of disruption.
Only once the pipes are repaired should the subsidence work go ahead. Going forward, it’s highly recommended to keep a close eye on the drains to ensure there’s no recurrence.
Don’t risk subsidence on your property; regular drain maintenance is surprisingly cost-effective and hassle-free and could prevent serious structural damage.