Emergency sinkhole response for your Florida home
The mere mention of sinkholes can strike fear in the heart of a homeowner. Media photos of backyards disappearing in large craters are seared in our minds. In truth, however, most sinkholes are much less dramatic. They show up first as cracks in foundations, walls, pools, and driveways. (See "Sinkhole Signs and Symptoms," below.) If the underlying problem is not addressed, the damage becomes worse with time. Serving Sarasota, Spring Hill, Hudson, New Port Richey, Daytona Beach, and all affected areas
L.R.E. Ground Services, Inc. is the company that professional engineering firms, insurance companies and homeowners rely on the most for emergency sinkhole repairs. L.R.E.’s Sinkhole Emergency Response Team (S.E.R.T.) is able to mobilize anywhere in Florida to repair and/or stabilize an emergency dropout.
Sinkholes have always been a part of Florida life, but with the increased population, accompanied by rapid construction growth and the high amounts of water being pumped from Florida's water supply, property damage due to sinkholes is increasing. If you see signs of sinkhole activity on your property, call us. L.R.E. Ground Services, Inc. specializes in all types of sinkhole repairs.
At L.R.E. Ground Services, Inc. we service Tampa, Orlando, Saint Petersburg, Bradenton, Lakeland, Sarasota, Ocala, Kissimmee, Daytona Beach, Clearwater, Port Saint Lucie, Largo, Melbourne, Spring Hill, Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, New Port Richey and all of Florida. Contact us today for a free inspection.
What is a sinkhole?
Sinkholes are depressions in land surface created by the displacement of soil or ground water circulating and causing a dissolution of limestone. Sinkhole depressions, or sometime holes are found in the general landscape of many regions of the U.S. They are caused when surface soil sinks or falls into underground voids or empty spaces.
The voids may be man-made, such as when an aquifer is drained by numerous wells and when an underground drain develops a leak--or natural, such as a cave or series of fissures or cracks caused when water erodes underground rock strata.
There are three types of sinkholes: solution sinkholes, subsidence sinkholes, and cover-collapse sinkholes. Solution sinkholes occur when there is a thin cover of soil over limestone. Rainwater erodes the limestone and shallow sinkholes gradually form. Subsidence sinkholes occur when the soil layer is mostly sand. Cavities occur due to erosion in the limestone bedrock, sand filters down into the voids and sinkholes gradually form on the surface.
Cover-collapse sinkholes occur where the soil layer is deep and more cohesive than sand. The cohesive soil, often clay sediment, bridges voids that form in the limestone below – until the weight of the soil is too great. At that point, a sinkhole may occur suddenly.
Sinkhole activity may be triggered by construction, heavy rains or flooding, or anything else that adds weight to the soil. The resulting depressions may form slowly over many years or suddenly, in which case a sinkhole can cause property damage and even loss of life. Regardless of how they form, they can cause a house to settle dramatically and damage it in a wide variety of ways.
Development Stages of a Sinkhole
- Surface Subsidence (Most common type of sinkhole)
- Cover Collapse
Are Sinkholes Near You?
Sinkholes are prevalent in Florida, especially where the bedrock is somewhat soluble, such as limestone. Rain water is slightly acidic and can become more so as it passes through decaying vegetative matter. The acidic water percolates through the limestone, dissolving some of it and carrying it away. This map shows the relative numbers of sinkholes in various parts of Florida and how soil conditions determine which type of sinkholes may occur.
Red - *Cover is more than 200 feet thick and consists of cohesive sediments interlayered with discontinuous carbonate beds. Sinkholes are very few, but several large diameter, deep sinkholes occur. Cover-collapse sinkholes dominate.
Green - *Cover is 30 - 200 feet thick and consists mainly of cohesive clay sediments of low permeability. Sinkholes are most numerous of varying size and develop abruptly. Cover-collapse sinkholes dominate.
Blue - *Cover is 30-200 feet thick and consists mainly of incohesive and permeable sand. Sinkholes are few, shallow, of small diameter and develop gradually. Cover- subsidence sinkholes dominate.
Pink - Bare/ thinly covered limestone - Sinkholes are few, generally shallow and broad and develop gradually. Solution sinkholes dominate.
*Cover is a general term used to describe sediments and sedimentary rock that lie above the limestone.
Disclaimer: Research and geologic data derived and developed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) - Florida Geological Survey (FGS) to carry out agency responsibilities related to management, protection, and development of Florida's natural resources. The development of these data sets represents a major investment of FDEP/FGS staff time and effort. Although efforts have been made to make the information accurate and useful, the FDEP/FGS and L.R.E. Ground Services, Inc. assumes no responsibility for errors in the information and does not guarantee that the data are free from errors or inaccuracies. Similarly FDEP/FGS and L.R.E. Ground Services, Inc. assume no responsibility for the consequences of inappropriate uses or interpretations of the data. As such, these digital data are distributed on an "as is" basis and the user assumes all risk as to their quality, the results obtained from their use, and the performance of the data. FDEP/FGS and L.R.E. Ground Services, Inc. bears no responsibility to inform users of any changes made to this data. Anyone using this data is advised that precision implied by the data may far exceed actual precision. For educational purposes only. http://www.dep.state.fl.us/geology/disclaimer.htm
Sinkhole signs and symptoms
Sinkholes do not have to occur under your home to cause settlement problems. Sinking soil can affect everything within a sizeable radius.
Here are some symptoms to watch for in your home and around your yard:
- Cracks Numerous cracks have appeared in interior and exterior walls, ceilings, and foundation walls—and they are growing in width or length. Similarly, cracks have opened up around windows and doors, along baseboards, or between countertops and backsplashes. Shower stall tiles have begun to crack. Drywall nails have begun to pop.
- Leaks Gaps have opened up around flashed penetrations, such as vent pipes, skylights, and along dormers. Gaps cause leaks that show up as water stains on walls and ceilings. Plumbing pipes may also become stressed by settlement, causing leaks. The damage may show up as moldy wet spots on walls and in the foundation slabs.
- Sounds Popping sounds and creaks. If you hear frequent noises at night, take note. They may be due to sinkhole activity.
- Floors Floors are no longer level. If you place a marble on the floor, it rolls. There are cracked, loosened, or popped floor tiles.
- Water and power bills Sudden increase in energy and water bills. Settlement can open up cracks that reduce the energy efficiency of your home. Similarly, movement can cause plumbing leaks – which in turn may cause outbreaks of mold. Check your utility bills to decide whether increases might be attributable to cracks.
- Doors and Windows Windows or doors that have become more difficult to operate. If so, settlement may have caused the openings to shift and windows and doors to bind. Cracks in drywall above window and doorframes are an early sign of house settlement.
- Yard Slight dips, depressions and visible holes, ongoing changes in slope or elevation, and soft areas in which you sink when you walk across them. All are possible signs of sinkholes. So are dead patches in your lawn or gardens (because water is draining away too quickly to keep them hydrated) and trees that have begun to lean for no apparent reason.
- Fencing Fencing that has begun to dip or sway is another sign of the ground sinking. Most fences are installed so that the rails are straight. When that changes, sinkhole activity may be the culprit.
- Pools A pool is losing water. Water loss may be due to cracks or broken plumbing lines that have been caused by settlement. Examine the pool walls and floor for cracks. Check pipes for leaks. Look for cracks in the pool decking around the pool as well.
- Driveways A driveway with cracks that grow longer and wider with time. If your driveway has become dramatically sloped or seems hollow in places, it may have been undermined by sinkhole activity.
If a sinkhole occurs on your property
If a sinkhole does occur on your property, ensure the safety of yourself and your family. Mark the sinkhole area with tape and signage to warn others. Evacuate if necessary. Notify your insurance company and the building department of your municipality. Then call L.R.E. Ground Services, Inc. to help you assess the damage. Under no circumstances should you try to fill the hole yourself. Sinkholes are a direct route to the underground water supply below. By filling the hole with compost or trash, you can easily contaminate your water supply.
Our company is your leading local sinkhole repair company offering free inspections on sinkhole repair in Saint Petersburg, Tampa, Orlando, Sarasota, Spring Hill, Hudson, New Port Richey, Daytona Beach, Port Saint Lucie, Largo, Melbourne, Spring Hill, Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, New Port Richey and all of Florida.