September 12, 2016

Signs of a Sinkhole Forming

Sinkholes are a very real threat to homeowners, especially those in Florida (we will discuss why later). By understanding how to recognize the signs of a sinkhole forming, we can make sure we don’t accidentally put ourselves in a stressful and even dangerous situation.

In order to completely understand these signs, we need to take a deeper look at what sinkholes are, what causes them, and even how to prevent them.

What is a sinkhole?

When you see a sinkhole, it’s easy to assume that it’s a hole in a ground that easily swallows up cars, homes, and even people. These holes seem to pop up out of nowhere without any sign that this empty space exists under the soil.

Actually, a sinkhole is not a hole in the rock itself, but rather what we see on the surface of the earth because of the hole. This hole, called a void or cavity, can take as long as hundreds of thousands of years to form, or as little as days, depending on the cause of the hole in the rock.

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What causes sinkholes?

Sinkholes can be caused by both natural processes and humankind. When caused by nature, these are the examples of sinkholes forming over hundreds of thousands of years; on the contrary, humans can cause sinkholes to open beneath them within days.

Whether caused by nature or humans, sinkholes are caused by the acidic, destructive property of water. When an area of land has no natural external surface drainage, water remains underground and eats away at the rock and soil.

As this water continues to collect and remove rock from under the surface, a cavity opens and grows larger and larger with time. Eventually, this hole grows too wide to support the ground above it, and the surface collapses, causing what we know to be sinkholes.

Signs of a sinkhole forming

Now that we understand what sinkholes are and what causes them, we can understand how to pinpoint the signs of a sinkhole forming in our homes.

The biggest sign of a sinkhole forming in your home is that your home is cracking! If the surface of the earth is shifting underneath the weight of your home, it will become disheveled, leaving an uneven plot of land. When this occurs, the structure of your home will shift under gravity, and cause cracks.

These cracks tend to form in a staircase pattern, as one side of the structure of your home has shifted while the other stayed the same. These are commonly found in doorways and corners of the walls, where two structures meet. Furthermore, your doors may no longer close correctly, as the sides of your doorway may no longer be parallel.

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Another place to look for signs of a sinkhole forming is along your ceiling and floor. It may seem as if the ceiling or floor is pulling away from the wall, causing a crack where they meet.

Outside the home, things that were previously buried may be coming up out of the wall. If you have a fence, for example, it may seem to be growing up out of the earth, rather than remaining set into the ground.

If the foundation of your home as a whole seems to be growing taller, this is a major sign of a sinkhole forming that required immediate attention. After a rainstorm, you may find the rain has collected in puddles in your yard.

Finally, due to the water dripping down under the soil and into the earth’s rock, any plants, flowers, or even weeds you have may be wilting, and you might be able to see circular cracks in the ground where the sinkhole has drained the available water in a circular pattern.  

The legal battle

Unfortunately, as common as sinkholes are, insurance companies are in the business of making money, and therefore it is not uncommon for them to deny their insureds sinkhole claims. This is where Corless Barfield comes in. We have a strong history of fighting against unfaithful insurance companies and earning our clients the settlements they deserve.