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Cisco143, Home Buyer in Spring Hill, FL

What is a sinkhole, how do you repair it?

Asked by Cisco143, Spring Hill, FL Sun May 20, 2012

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A sinkhole is a void or a hole in the ground usually under the foundation or pool of the home. In Florida where we live everything is built on the limestone bedrock that underlies most the state of Florida. The problem with limestone is that natural rain dissolves holes in it as it runs through from the surface to the aquifer. Over long periods of time this makes small holes or in some cases large caves which then again over time collapse.
Generally the voids in the Florida limestone foundations are filled with water which itself helps to hold up the structure. In times of drought however, as we are experiencing right now the water is depleted and the remaining cave structure is not strong enough to support the house above and falls in. This is what has been labeled here in Florida a "sink hole". They come in all shapes and sizes from hole that are 2-3 feet deep in diameter and a few inches deep to several in Orlando Florida that are now fairly large lakes of a mile or more in size.
Sink holes can occur in almost any area that has a limestone bedrock base but Florida is particularly susceptible to sink holes due to the high rain fall in our area. Lots of the desert southwest has a limestone bedrock like New Mexico and Arizona but lack the rain fall to make sink holes a problem.
Now the million dollar question. "How do you repair a sink hole." There are generally two ways to do this.
The first is filling the void with a slurry of concrete that fills the void and eventually gives the house a solid concrete foundation. This is the most expensive way but is tried and true and is the best way to support the house and surrounding area. The problem with this approach is of course the cost. You may have to use 30 cubic yards of concrete to fill the void or 300 cubic yards there isn't any real way of telling until you start pumping concrete and money down the hole.
The second way is less costly and just as effective which is the pier technology repair of sink hole homes. This repair drives solid concrete piers into the ground and then attaches the concrete foundation to the piers essentially making the home a house built on stilts which are driven into the solid limestone bedrock. The problem with this system is that it leaves the possibility that you will wake up in the morning and walk out your front door into a 30' hole. Your house is still supported but the ground surrounding it has now fallen away.
Of course either way has its pitfalls and supporters. The best solution is to bull doze the house and build in another area....of course there is no guarantee in Florida that any given area does not have a sink hole. Some of the larger sink holes that have appeared were not visible even to ground penetrating radar used to see if there are any sink holes present. If the cavern that collapses is 100' under ground there is no way to predict where or when it will be or collapse.
Just pray that you don't have a sink hole or just enjoy the sunshine and figure that every place has its difficulties.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 20, 2012
Cisco, this is Florida, and sinkholes here can be an entirely natural phenomena. Unlike Nanuet, NY, our bedrock is porous limestone, and can become unstable. The link below is to the State's information page regarding the problem, and under the FAQ it gives some advice on how to fix them.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 20, 2012
I would call a professional immediately if you see a sinkhole on your property or nearby.…
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 4, 2015
If there is a sinkhole on your property than you want to make sure to get it repaired. A sinkhole is a big hole in the ground and could be dangerous. There are services out there that you can contact to have it taken care of.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 4, 2015
Raymond gave a very thorough description of what a sinkhole is. I would recommend fixing it as soon as possible if you have one. They can do serious damage to your foundation and may harm your resell value a lot.…
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 5, 2015
If you have a sinkhole, that could be a serious issue for your home. I would suggest that you should probably find a contractor soon. You don't want to have problems with your foundation, because that can become a much bigger problem. I would say that you should check a few different things to make sure that your home is in good condition right now. You don't want any other issues to arise while you work on getting it repaired!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 10, 2014
It can be very expensive to hire a firm to repair a sinkhole. $50k and up. Also you will not likely be able to get a mortgage if there is a sinkhole. And... even if the sinkhole is repaired the house will have a "stigma" attached to it so the future resale value will be much less, too.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 20, 2012
I regard sinkholes as a natural feature that adds interest to a property, much the same way that a stream or large trees might. If you are buying in a sinkhole plain where active ones can open, you may wish to learn more about them first.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 20, 2012
Sinkhole generally occurs from Builders who buried tree stumps instead of hauling them away. Fill them up with dirt & pack the dirt down and no more sinkhole!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 20, 2012
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