Eventually, these underground cavities enlarge to the point that the surface sediments and structures overlying the cavities become too heavy for the ceiling to support, and the earth collapses in to them.
In the less serious type of sinkhole, over time a bowl-shaped depression forms at the surface. In the much rarer but more catastrophic, the ground cover collapses suddenly into a large underground cavern. Sinkholes vary in size from a few feet to hundreds of feet in diameter.
Most situations that a homeowner is likely to confront can be repaired with proper soil stabilization procedures, and a home’s foundation with foundation underpinning. Those are our expertise, and we can help restore your property from the underground up.
Since relatively few of the cavities in karst terrain ever collapse and directly affect roads or dwellings, karst terrains are rarely newsworthy. Headlines are made only when a house or road is located above one of the developing karst features. However, since much of Florida is karstic, these processes are continually taking place, and there’s always an element of risk.
So if you have not yet built or purchased a home, and you are in one of the more sinkhole prevalent areas of the state, you might want to consider having us do a preliminary assessment and perhaps obtaining a geological evaluation.
If there’s a possible problem, we have systems such as of pressure grouting to stabilize your soil, and we are specialists in pre-construction and remedial foundation underpinning to put you on solid ground.
It may take a day for the slumping of the sediments along the sides of the sinkhole to stop. Erosion on the sinkhole’s edge may even continue for several days, with sudden collapses along the sides, so it is important to stay well clear of the depression. Heavy rainfall can prolong the stabilization.
Heavy ground-water pumpage and declining ground-water level can accelerate sinkhole formation.
Hurricanes, tropical storms and other heavy rains can permeate the soil and carry away sediments into the substrata, speeding sinkhole development, as can the shrinkage and cracking in the surface levels caused by drought.
Don’t worry about watering your lawn, though. Private lawn wells are typically not sufficient to impact the water table enough to cause sinkholes.
Settling of the ground surface may be caused by other things such as broken pipes or decaying organic matter. Also, underground layers of clay may shrink upon drying and develop depressions, and poorly compacted soil from construction or excavations may settle.
You need to know what’s causing these things and take effective action. Don’t take a chance, especially if the settling is affecting your home or business. Call Foundation Services for an assessment:
We have evaluated and repaired thousands of these soil and foundation conditions with technologically advanced and innovative techniques. We work closely with the top geological engineers in Florida. We are also familiar with applicable insurance provisions and can give you guidance there. Let us help you solve your problem.
Broken limestone rip-rap or a concrete plug in the bottom of a small sinkhole can sometimes create a stable foundation for the fill. Above that, you will want to add “clayey” sand, as clay helps form a barrier against water seeping downward through the hole and making it worse.
Sand and top soil should be added on top, and landscaping will strengthen the surface further. Although additional fill may be needed over time, most holes do eventually stabilize.
If the depression is near a structure, do not trust the do-it-yourself method. Call us for an evaluation – 352-622-9218 or toll-free 866-622-3723. Pressure grouting, chemical grout injection or another soil stabilization technique may be needed to protect your home!
To fill those containing water (intersecting the underlying acquifers), you may need an Environmental Resources Permit from your local Water Management District (in southern Florida) or the respective district offices of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (in northern Florida). District staff will assist in assessing your need for a permit and advise you of the approval process.
If Foundation Services is engaged to remediate the sinkhole and stabilize your soils, we will handle all permitting.
If it’s a public street, call your city or county road department to start the repairs. If it’s a private road, contact the property owner or homeowner’s association, as the repair will be their responsibility. If it’s your property, call Foundation Services immediately for an assessment and help – 352-622-9218 – and get it roped off and marked A.S.A.P.
Let us guide you through this. We work with all the top insurance companies and geological engineering firms in Florida. We have decades of experience assisting homeowners and business owners with the necessary explanations, details and coordination with the different entities, as well as having in-house seasoned experts in repairing your property from the underground up – from soil stabilization and foundation repair through structural and cosmetic restoration and landscaping.
Some small sinkholes require just filling with clean sand or soil. Let’s hope yours is that simple. If the hole is near your home or swimming pool, your insurance may cover the assessment and repair. Pressure grouting, chemical grout injection or another method of soil stabilization may be needed.
If there is a government agency that can help, we will know about it – such as local Emergency Management Offices who help when a home is endangered, personnel from the local Water Management District (especially if the sinkhole impacts local ground water), and any local agencies that might help with evacuating your home, if required. We can help you contact them.
The sinkhole should also be reported on the appropriate form and submitted to the Florida Geological Survey. We or one of the agencies can assist you.
Although the bedrock underlying this state is honeycombed with cavities of various sizes, most will not collapse in our lifetimes. While Florida’s sinkholes tend to occur along linear fracture trends – aligned northwest-to-southeast and northeast-to-southwest – most are isolated events.
No government agency will help you fix a hole on your property, as private property is the responsibility of the property owner. In some cases your insurance may cover evaluation and repair of a sinkhole, depending upon your actual coverage, circumstances and the company’s policy.
The entire state is underlain by carbonate rocks, so sinkholes could theoretically form anywhere. However, there are definite regions where sinkhole risk is considerably higher than others … areas where limestone is close to the surface, or areas with deeper limestone but with a conducive configuration of water table elevation, stratigraphy and aquifer characteristics.
The Florida Geological Survey maintains a database of sinkholes that have been reported since 1954, so these tend to cluster in populated areas where they are readily seen and might affect roads and houses. Of course, those occurring in fields and forests often go unseen and unreported. Sinkhole information for a specific area (by county) can be found in their Subsidence Incident Reports.
However, test results may be affected by the local geology and elevation of the water table, they are not always conclusive, and they can be quite costly.
Generally, if the repair has been made by a qualified contractor, certified by a licensed engineer and completed to the satisfaction of the homeowner’s insurance company, the house is probably safer than a neighboring one that has not been repaired.
We and a few other top contractors have been specially approved to offer transferable warranties guaranteed by the country’s largest warranty company and re-insured by an A.M. Best “A+” rated global insurer. Nevertheless, since we are dealing with natural systems, there can be no guarantees that a repaired sinkhole will never cause future problems.
If Foundation Services did the repair, you can rest assured it’s not only the highest quality, technologically advanced and reliable work, but also that the repair work is covered with the most comprehensive Foundation Stabilization Warranty in the industry. The warranty is on the property itself and would transfer to you, the purchaser. With over 2000 sinkhole and foundation repair jobs under our belt just since our merger in 1991, we have never had to go back for future repairs.
Insurance company policies vary and some are more liberal, so you may wish to shop around. Once you have homeowners insurance available, you will also want to understand the difference between sinkhole and cover collapse insurance.
The team at Foundation Services (1-866-622-3723) has years of experience repairing everything from the most minor crack to a full-blown sinkhole collapse, working with all major insurers in Florida. They are familiar with sinkhole insurance in the state and “catastrophic ground cover collapse” insurance. So before you call your insurance agent, get a free assessment from the Foundation Services team to find out what’s going on underneath your home and how best to describe it to your insurer.
Are you covered? … Click here for a better understanding of sinkhole insurance in Florida and the insurance industry’s definitions of “sinkhole” and “catastrophic ground cover collapse.”
It is guaranteed by the largest national warranty provider, then reinsured by an “A+” rated global insurer in A.M. Best’s highest financial size category. Our warranty is the industry’s FIRST and ONLY 10-Year TRANSFERABLE warranty for foundation stabilization in Florida. So if you want to sell your property, this improves its value by increasing the purchaser’s confidence and assurance of long term soundness.
We note that since sinkhole activity involves natural systems, there can be no absolute guarantees that a repaired sinkhole will never cause future problems. However, our remediation, stabilization and repair processes use the most advanced techniques and best products in the industry. With over 2000 successful sinkhole and foundation repair jobs just since the merger that formed Foundation Services in 1991, we have never had to go back to the same job.
Check out this interesting and educational video that explains how sinholes are formed:
“Of everyone we talked to, they gave us the most reassuring feeling and walked us step by step through the process… Not only was the work performed efficiently and with the utmost care and concern for our home, but the crew was outstanding. They were polite, cordial and always careful in cleaning up after themselves, and we never felt intruded upon.”