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How Soil Samples Help Identify the Cause of Subsidence

13 May 2013

News Category 1

Subsidence can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare. It can cause incredible amounts of damage and cost thousands of pounds to fix – even more if it is identified too late. If you suspect the ground underneath your home is subsiding, you need to take action quickly. Before looking into the various methods of combating subsidence, you need to identify what the cause actually is, as this will determine what course of action can be taken.

Using samples of soil, roots, and water, we can identify the cause of subsidence.

This works because what is going on in the soil underneath your home is the whole reason your property could be in danger of subsiding. There are several factors that can contribute to subsidence, such as the soil type, whether there are large trees or plants with roots extending under or around the property, buried organic material, and in rare cases, mineshafts.

By sampling the soil, we can identify some of these elements and get a better idea of what is causing the subsidence in your home.

Typical causes of subsidence

One common cause of subsidence that we use soil sampling to detect is the combination of tree roots and soil containing large amounts of clay. These two together are a very bad combination. Unlike dry sandy soil, which has large particles that don’t tend to move around much, clay soil is made from much smaller particles. Clay expands when it is wet as it draws in moisture. Underground, this is not usually a problem, as the amount of moisture in the clay and surrounding area is maintained, so there is no change in density. However, if there are tree roots in the clay, they will draw moisture out of the soil, causing it to shrink and compact as it dries out. This means there is an empty space that the expanded clay used to fill.

Taking soil samples allows us to see the composition of the soil. This in turn enables us to more accurately determine the cause of the subsidence. We can also take samples from tree routes, which means we can identify if the tree itself is the problem. This is particularly useful if the tree in question is on someone else’s property. If it turns out the tree is the cause of the problem, it may need to be removed, and so you will likely need proof of this in order to be able to do so.

Soil, water and root sampling

Sampling is essential in helping to determine the appropriate course of action to combat subsidence. With precautions and preventative methods sometimes costing thousands of pounds, you want to be sure you are doing the right thing and actually solving the problem! We work with a select list of trusted and accredited laboratories who we know give professional and reliable results.

For more information on soil sampling and subsidence, use the contact page to get in touch today.

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