It is far from unusual for any property to settle over time, and this can cause some visible signs that may cause you to have a minor panic attack. Much will depend on the nature of the imperfection and what caused it in the first place, and you need to be a bit of a detective in order to figure this out. If you can see cracks in the brickwork of your home, what should you be worrying about?
What to Look for
While minor cracks or lines can often be seen within plasterboard inside the house, you should pay particular attention whenever you see cracks in the brickwork around external or foundation walls. In particular, if you can see gaping cracks or zigzag patterns, then you could be dealing with a structural defect. If you can see a separation between the cement and the mortar, then this could be quite advanced as well.
To determine what you need to do, you need to figure out the cause.
Sometimes, weather conditions or seasonal changes can cause expansion and contraction of the soil under the home. If the water table suddenly recedes, this can lead to wall cracking.
What type of soil does your home sit on? Clay is a very reactive soil that can expand very quickly when it gets moist. You might need to test the soil to see what it is composed of and whether its reactive nature is contributing to the wall cracks.
A certain amount of subsidence is commonplace, but this does not typically result in significant or dramatic cracking. It is possible, however, that a sinkhole is beginning to form underneath the property, which is of course something that will require urgent attention.
Are there any major construction works near to your property? When heavy machinery is used to compact soil, blast stubborn rock or otherwise cause vibration, this can result in cracking. You not only need to determine whether this is the case, but also should get legal advice if such work has damaged your property.
Keeping Up with Maintenance?
How careful are you when it comes to home maintenance? Have you checked to see that your irrigation system is working properly and that you don't have any leaking pipes or blocked sprinklers? Have you unblocked the gutters? All of these can create water issues which can lead to property damage.
Also, check any large trees that you may have near to the home, to see whether their invasive root structures are contributory. It's a good idea to remove any such tree that is very close and only keep smaller bushes or shrubs in these areas.
It's also possible that the building materials used in the construction of your home have degraded. For example, sometimes reinforced concrete is used to make the structural foundations and if water gets in here, concrete cancer can result, which could lead to cracked brickwork.
Asking the Experts
As it can be difficult for the typical homeowner to determine exactly what's wrong, it's always best to bring in an expert to provide guidance.