If you’ve noticed the ground around your house sinking, it could be due to a number of reasons. In this blog post, we’ll explore why the ground might be sinking and what you can do about it.
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It can be disconcerting to find your yard suddenly has a depression in it, especially if it wasn’t there before. Sinkholes form in areas where the ground is made of limestone, dolostone, or salt beds that are soluble in water. When water dissolves the bedrock, it creates cavities underground. These cavities can grow and eventually collapse, forming a sinkhole.
What is a sinkhole?
A sinkhole is a hole or depression that forms in an area of land when the material beneath the surface (usually bedrock, soil or gravel) is dissolved by water. As the material dissolves, the ground above it collapses and creates a sinkhole. Sinkholes can range in size from a few feet to several acres and can occur gradually or suddenly. They are most common in areas with limestone or other carbonate rocks because these rocks are easily dissolved by groundwater.
How do sinkholes form?
Most sinkholes form gradually over time as water seeps through fractures or dissolves bedrock, slowly enlarging the opening underground. This is called a cover-collapse sinkhole. Although often associated with Florida, sinkholes can occur wherever there are conducive geologic conditions.. In areas where limestone or similar rocks exist just below the surface, water can seep down through tiny fractures and dissolve the rock underground, sometimes forming a large cavern. As the roof of the cavern becomes thinner from continued dissolution, it eventually collapses, forming a sinkhole at the surface.
Sinkholes in Florida
A sinkhole is a hole in the ground that opens up suddenly and can expand quickly. In Florida, sinkholes are caused by the dissolution of limestone bedrock and can form anywhere there is limestone present.
What makes Florida susceptible to sinkholes?
Sinkholes are common in Florida due to the state’s unique geological composition. Florida sits atop a large portion of limestone, a type of sedimentary rock that is highly soluble in water. This means that the rock can easily be dissolved by the acidic rainwater that percolates through the soil. As the limestone dissolves, it forms cavities and voids in the ground. Eventually, these cavities become large enough to collapse, forming a sinkhole.
While sinkholes can occur anywhere there is limestone, they are especially common in Florida because the state has a lot of rainfall and a high water table. This combination of factors creates the perfect conditions for sinkhole formation.
What are the consequences of sinkholes?
Sinkholes can cause extensive property damage. In February 2013, a sinkhole in Seffner, Florida, swallowed a man who was in his bedroom.
Sinkholes can also cause disruptions to roads, railroads, and buildings. In March 2014, a sinkhole opened up beneath a section of National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Eight classic Corvette cars were swallowed by the hole.
The financial cost of sinkholes can be significant. In 2006, a sinkhole that was 30 meters (100 feet) deep and 12 meters (40 feet) wide opened up beneath a house in Winter Park, Florida. The repairs to the house cost $1 million.
In March 2015, a sinkhole caused the loss of millions of gallons of drinking water in Toledo, Ohio, when it opened up beneath an abandoned factory.
Sinkholes Around My House
Groundwater is what keeps sinkholes from forming. When there’s a drought and the groundwater decreases, the dirt and rock above it can collapse, forming a sinkhole. Sinkholes can also form when there’s too much rain. The rainwater seeps into the ground, expanding and loosening the dirt and rock, which can then collapse and form a sinkhole. If you have a sinkhole on your property, it’s important to have it fixed as soon as possible.
Why is the ground sinking around my house?
There are numerous factors that can contribute to the formation of sinkholes. In general, they occur when water erodes an underlying layer of rock or sediment, causing the ground above it to collapse. This can happen over a long period of time, or suddenly. Sinkholes are most common in areas with limestone bedrock, because this type of rock is especially vulnerable to erosion.
There are two main types of sinkholes: those that form gradually, and those that form abruptly. The type of sinkhole will determine how it forms, and what kind of damage it can cause.
Gradual sinkholes form over time, as water slowly erodes the bedrock beneath the ground surface. These sinkholes are often small and may not cause any damage to structures on the surface. However, if left unaddressed, gradual sinkholes can grow larger and cause significant damage.
Abrupt sinkholes form suddenly, when a large amount of water erodes the bedrock beneath the ground surface. This can happen due to heavy rainfall or a broken water pipe. Abrupt sinkholes can be very large and cause extensive damage to structures on the surface. They can also be dangerous, as people or animals that are standing on the ground above the sinkhole can suddenly fall in.
What can I do about it?
If you think you might have a sinkhole, the first thing you should do is contact your insurance company. In many cases, sinkhole damage is covered by homeowners insurance, but policies vary, so it’s important to check with your insurer.
Even if your policy doesn’t cover sinkholes, your insurance company will likely send an adjuster to investigate the claim. The adjuster will look for signs of a sinkhole, such as cracks in the foundation or walls, doors or windows that are no longer level, or new gaps around pipes where they enter the house.
If the insurance company finds evidence of a sinkhole, it will likely pay to have the hole repaired. In some cases, the damage may be too extensive to repair, and the house may need to be demolished.