Have you ever found cracks in the walls of your home? And, if so, have you panicked or just dismissed them as unimportant?
In fact, neither reaction is very helpful. Cracks may be harmless, especially if they’re small, but it’s usually as well to get them checked out — especially in the hot, dry summers that seem likely to become common.
Substantial cracks could be due to subsidence, which are most commonly caused by leaking drains or tree roots growing near the house. Tree roots can create a particular problem in hot, dry summers, since they drain the soil of its limited moisture, causing it to contract. If there’s then the expected higher rainfall in winter, the roots take up less moisture while the tree isn’t in leaf, causing the soil to push upwards again.
Repairs to minor cracks in your home may simply come under wear and tear, but subsidence could be covered by your insurance policy. So how can you tell — and what needs to be done?
Repairing Cracks in Your Home
If you have cracks more than 2.5mm wide (especially if you can see daylight through them), if they’re diagonal rather than vertical, or if there are cracks above door frames, this is likely to be a sign of subsidence, and you’ll need to get professionals in for major structural repairs or even to have the foundations underpinned and strengthened.
Subsidence claims increased in the wake of 2018’s hot summer, and this is likely to be repeated this year and into the future. According to climate science projections, the UK is likely to experience more warm, dry summers, and subsidence claims will increase accordingly, spreading to areas where they’re usually less of a problem.
While wear and tear repairs (often DIY jobs) won’t be covered by your insurance policy, major structural repairs or underpinning can normally be claimed under your Building Insurance. The increased claims, however, might make insurers more resistant to paying — which is where you’ll need our help.
If your home needs to be underpinned, this is likely to have consequences for future insurance cover, with policies harder to arrange and premiums tending to be more expensive. You might also find the property harder to sell. However, this is still better than leaving your home to collapse and needing to be rebuilt. And you might even get turned down by your insurer’s loss adjuster, if you’ve negligently avoided essential repairs.
Allied Claims would recommend you get a professional in at once if you find cracks that display any of the danger signs mentioned above. They’ll advise you on what needs to be done — and we’ll be here to make sure you receive any insurance pay-out due to you.