There are two types of sinkholes: man made and natural. You are probably wondering, who cares, they can both ruin my property right? How can I repair sinkholes I have and prevent more from forming in the future?
Believe it or not this matters. Your insurance company may not be willing to coverage damages depending on the source of the sinkhole.
Man made sinkholes are far less likely to be covered. Along with this, if the sink hole occurs solely on your property, versus off of it, insurance may be unwilling to provide you with coverage.
So, what’s the difference between the two?
There are two main ingredients for any sinkhole to start forming.
- Moving Water
- Loose Soil
When these two ingredients are mixed together, the soil starts to shift and the underlying layers below the surface are washed away.
Man made sinkholes can be caused by busted drain pipes. As this soil is flooded with water, erosion starts to take place under ground resulting in the eventual collapse of the surface.
Man made sinkholes can also be the result of poor construction. When your driveway or pavement is constructed, the base soil is compacted to insure a firm resting bed for any asphalt or concrete. Sometimes, the base layer of your driveway may have not been compacted properly thus the pot holes.
When water mixes with this loose soil, erosion takes place and before you know it, your property can be collapsing in on itself.
Perhaps more dangerous and far more common are natural sinkholes. These typically form after heavy rain fall. The high amounts of water then erode the base soil causing sink holes.
Natural sinkholes are for more likely to occur if you live in area that has large amounts of limestone, salt deposits or carbonate rock.
What Are The Chances Of My Property Being Effected By A Sinkhole?
We would love to give you a definitive answer on this one, but in reality, you can’t be sure.
There are some areas in the United States that are more susceptible than others such as the following states:
A general rule of thumb for determining if your house is under threat, is for you to figure out the type bedrock underneath the top soil. Limestone, salt deposits and carbonate rock can be very prone to erosion.
You can check out The Association Of American State Geologist for more information on specific state threats in terms of sinkholes.
How Do I Repair Sinkholes?
Alright, you get it, you know what sink holes are, you know how they are formed, but HOW DO I FIX THEM?!?
Step 1 – Evaluate the Damage
Obviously if the sink hole is big enough to take your car down with it, call the emergency services. However, if the the hole is only a few feet deep and few feet wide, you are in business.
Step 2 – Find Solid Bedrock
We have to urge above all else, the SOURCE OF THE SINK HOLE MUST BE REMOVED.
Simply digging up loose sod and then filling it with concrete will not be enough. You may need to hire a small digger or excavation machine if the hole is big enough to warrant it.
If the source of the problem is not removed, the new layer of soil or concrete will eventually sink down as well. These sources can range from buried rubbish, which was common back in the day, to cover tree stumps.
At this point, you might want to consider hiring a professional to get this work done and you may be right in doing so.
Step 3 – Start Filling The Sinkhole
One you have found and removed the culprit that caused the sinkhole you can then begin filling.
- First thing is first, you must compact the bottom layer of soil. You can use a brick or something heavy but we highly recommend using a proper soil compactor. This compacting of the earth prevents future erosion.
- Once the soil is compacted you can either fill with concrete or soil. If you are filling with soil, you re-compact the soil every 10 or 12 inches. This insures that no future erosion will take place.
If you do these two steps, you should be fine in sorting out most man made sinkholes. Natural sink holes can be another issue however and in those cases, we recommend hiring a professional to sort it out.