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CRL Management discusses top causes of structural faults & repair solutions

Many structural problems result from a change in the local environment such as damage from the roots of trees and shrubs or subsidence and heave resulting from a change in the ground conditions.

Rot is another major cause of structural faults as over time it can weaken the roof support timbers, lintels and floor joists. Occasionally a structural fault may be caused by human error such as a flaw in the architect's design or the method of construction used by a builder. Materials used in a building such as lintels or steel can also occasionally be faulty and cause structural damage.

In all scenarios it pays to be covered with a structural insurance provider as repairs to the structure of a building can prove to be very expensive.

Here we look at some of the most common structural issues and their remedies.

Cracked Walls

There can be a few different causes of a crack in the wall of your home and not all of them are a cause for serious concern. Naturally, after a new house is built it settles and some small surface cracks can appear in the plaster or dry lining. These types of cracks usually run vertically.

More cause for concern are cracks in the wall that run at a horizontal angle or those that run at a jagged 45-degree angle. This type of movement could indicate a more serious issue such as water ingress, corroded cavity wall ties or movement in the foundations.

It is always wise to contact a structural professional for advice if you are at all concerned.

The usual repair solution for this scenario is crack stitching – a process where reinforced steel rods are placed across the divide in the wall and chemically bonded to help tie the structure of the wall back together.

This process will ensure no further movement occurs, and the wall can be repaired back to the original finish.

Bulging or Collapsed Walls

A common cause of bulging or collapsed walls in modern homes is a failure of the cavity wall ties. As the name suggests cavity wall ties are used in-between the inner leaves of the internal and exterior wall of a building in order to tie the walls together. The ties play an important role in adding strength and providing stability to the wall and preventing bulging or cracking.

However, some cavity ties, especially earlier designs made from mild steel can corrode and cause structural movement.
Once the issue has been detected the best solution is to replace the ties before any further movement occurs.

If the fault is not detected early there is a possibility that the wall could move and it would need to stabilise or even rebuilt which would be expensive. Modern technology makes replacing corroded cavity wall ties relatively simple, the use of metal detectors, low impact drills and a new tie design means the work can be carried out without major disruption to the home.

Cracked Lintels, Bowed roof, Leaks

If there is a fault with the structural timbers used in the roof structure of your home it can cause issues lower down the building, if weight is not being distributed correctly. Signs could include cracked lintels over windows and doorways. Other indications could be a bow in the roof. Structural timber repairs have traditionally been time-consuming and expensive. If a new piece could not be bolted on or spliced, the lot had to be taken out. Even if it was possible to bolt a new timber section on, the bolt overlap was so long that it was essentially the same as replacing the entire timber.

The main cause for rotten timbers is continual dampness that leads to wet or dry rot. When this happens, expensive work is often required to replace the timber or install steel plates or side-splice.

Removing the entire timbers or undertaking repairs such as splices in structural timbers requires a considerable level of exposure work. This could include taking down ceilings, pulling up floors and removing part of the roof in order to complete the repair project.

Specialist in Construction Insurance


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