Who should we contact regarding a hole in our yard that keeps reappearing?

Asked by dgdesilva, San Jose, CA Tue Oct 2, 2012

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Grace Hanamo…, Agent, Cupertino, CA
Tue Oct 2, 2012
Hello Doug and thanks for your post.

Can you please elaborate on the "hole" that is appearing in your yard. Can you tell us where it seems to appear, size and depth of the hole and what you've done to remedy the situation?

While you're doing that, let me just add that holes that appear in the soil can come from many sources, but the two most common are:

Pests - gophers and moles can dig up soil as they root through the ground for shoots and bugs. You can often tell that a pest was in your yard because you'll see dirt brought up "over" the sides of the hole, as if something come up from the ground when it exited the hole. If this is the type of hole you're seeing, then a good pest control company should be able to address the problem of the gophers or moles.

Water Leaks, Collapsed Lines or Plumbing Problems - Slow leaks can cause erosion around a water line that appears first as a very "green" patch in the lawn (if you have lawn in the area) or creates a small sink hole in the ground where the water is washing away the subsoil. Sewer lines leading away from the home can similarly rupture or break leaving a section of soil that collapses over time. If the pipe and plumbing issues are not repaired, then, even after filling in the hole, the problem will likely recur--not right away, but eventually and in the same general location. To resolve these problems, talk with your plumber who can use sound waves to find a leak and then make the necessary repairs.

In addition to pests and water leaks, depending on where you live and the soil conditions, holes in the ground can appear due to geological instability, poor compaction, underground or alluvial water, poor drainage, and even fault line movements. Most of these issues would appear in the natural hazard report that you were provided when you purchased your home. If you feel that the hole is appearing due to a geological issue, then contact a geologist for assistance and advice. Unfortunately, stabilizing soil on your property is usually the responsibility of the homeowner, so there is not--to my knowledge--a governmental oversight group that will do this for you at their cost. Get professional help to determine why earth is moving on your property and advice on how to ensure that it doesn't damage or threaten your home.

Good luck!
Grace Morioka
Allison James Estates
1 vote
Grace, thank you for all the information. When we bought the house there was a bird bath over the area. It was a little off center but I didn't think much of it. We found the hole when we moved the birdbath to take advantage of a large lawn area. According to the neighbors there may have been a tree in this spot years ago. If you could advise me as to who we should contact to look at it and try to stabilize it - a geologist, soil engineer, plumber - that would be a great help. Thank you for your well thought out and helpful reply.
Flag Wed Oct 3, 2012
The Medford…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Wed Oct 3, 2012
I am TOTALLY with Steve on this one ...
0 votes
Terri Vellios, Agent, Campbell, CA
Wed Oct 3, 2012
It would depend on the history. It could be moles, golfers, or other critters. Or if there is a water source under and there is erosion. Was the property ever on a septic system?

I would probably start with your landscaper. Have them access what it appears to be. Then he/she would have some suggestions.

Have an amazing day!
Web Reference:  http://www.terrivellios.com
0 votes
If it's Golfers they really need to work on their swing ;-)
Flag Wed Oct 3, 2012
Juliana Lee, Agent, Palo Alto, CA
Wed Oct 3, 2012
Keep reappearing ....

Most often gophers will leave piles of dirt pushed out of the hole. Squirrels will dig small holes both looking for food stores and creating them. Racoons will dig up freshly laid sod or plants if they think there is an edible item underneath.

Soil erosion can be caused by a leaking water line or a broken sewer line. Plumbers can run a viewer down a sewer line to check it out. You can read your meter then shut off your water early in the evening, then read your meter first thing in the morning. A sprinkler system leak wouldn't be detected by this but a water line leak probably will.

Decomposing tree roots can cause the soil to sink but it is slow to happen the second time if the hole was really filled up.

Good luck,

Juliana Lee, MBA, LLB
Top 3 agent nationwide at Keller Williams Realty
Over 20 years experience
Web Reference:  http://www.julianalee.com
0 votes
Steven Ornel…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Tue Oct 2, 2012

A bit more detail would really be useful; not sure whether you need a geologist or exorcist ;-)

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