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14 Jan 2019

Crisp sunny days have been few and far between this winter and grey cloud has enveloped us for what feels like weeks. With cloud can come rain, and at this time of year this is another seasonal threat to the foundations of our homes. In the summer heatwave, clay shrank to cause movement to foundations but at this time of year there are more likely to be problems caused by too much rather than too little water. Sandy soils in particular can be weakened as water will literally wash them away, so if this happens around foundations you may have problems.

Well, I’m thinking that there isn’t a lot that can be done about the weather, but just as you would fix a leaking roof, there are measures that you can take to make sure your house is protected during these winter months. Firstly, make sure that guttering and downpipes are working effectively. If they are clogged up with dead leaves, damaged or missing altogether, water will pool around the house rather than be directed away from it. This water will seep down into the ground and may cause damage.

Underground drains should always be in good working order, but how can I detect if there might be a problem – they are not the sort of thing it is easy to inspect? This may be true, but we can be vigilant for signs that something is wrong, such as cracks appearing in walls, both inside and out. Doors may stick or floors become uneven. Drains that regularly become blocked may also be a sign of trouble as this may be due to collapsed pipework. There may also be signs of mould, rot or that tell-tale smell. If you have concerns that your property is being affected by damage caused by water, always take professional advice from a structural engineer who will investigate and identify the root cause and advise on how it can be repaired.