Is Sinkhole Prevention Possible?
If you own a home in Florida’s sinkhole alley, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do, personally, to prevent a sinkhole from forming under your house. The simplest answer is, “No.” Naturally occurring sinkholes have been part of the Florida landscape for millions of years. If you live in Florida you must adapt to the idea that sinkholes, and the occasional hurricane, are risks you must accept as part of living here. But, are there really no preventative measures you can take?
While there’s nothing that can be done to prevent a naturally occurring sinkhole, there are few things you can do to prevent a man-made or man-triggered sinkhole. We live in a karst landscape, so certain human activities can trigger natural sinkhole formation underground. That’s why an area that didn’t seem to have a lot of sinkhole problems, suddenly becomes a hotbed of sinkhole activity. As the population grows, construction, and the increased need for water, can often trigger sinkholes to develop.
Below are a few things you can do to protect yourself:
Watch to see where the water goes.
Water and sinkholes are inextricably linked. Too much water or a lack of water can trigger sinkhole conditions. For example, the over-pumping of groundwater to save strawberries from a hard freeze, resulted in an unprecedented number of sinkholes to occur in Plant City a few years ago. If you have a problem with leaking pipes, fix it quickly. Check your gutters and make sure that you have proper drainage around, or next to your foundation. A gutter that is set right next to the foundation may cause a “man made” sinkhole to form. Water run off must be directed away from the foundation. This can be accomplished by installing a French drain basin that directs rainwater away from the house.
Prevent sinkhole damage before you build.
If you are building a house in an area known for sinkhole activity, consider pre-construction remediation. If pre-construction piers are installed, a sinkhole may still form underground, but your home will be protected from damage. Sinkhole formation is eliminated if a homesite is grouted before construction. Pre-construction remediation is an added expense, but you’ll be completely protected, and you won’t be required to pay thousands of dollars in sinkhole insurance.
Move to an area that is less prone to sinkhole formation.
This is a tough option, but if you are seriously concerned about sinkholes where you live, you may consider moving to an area that is less prone to sinkholes. South Florida, parts of North Florida, and Florida’s East Coast have limestone layers that are much deeper underground and which are covered with a dense clay layer. Sinkholes still occur, but are far less common.
Learn about, and be vigilant for signs of sinkhole damage.
News reports tend to cover sinkholes that cause catastrophic damage, but most homeowners deal with sinkholes that develop slowly over time. If you have neighbors who have had a sinkhole problem, you may want to do a periodic check of your own home to see if you can find signs of sinkhole damage. If sinkhole conditions are confirmed on your property, make sure to have repairs done promptly so that you can prevent further damage to your home.
Call an expert.
There is so much misinformation about sinkholes even though they make great news headlines. If you are concerned about something that is happening to your home, and all you want is some information, call a reputable sinkhole repair company. Reputable companies are more than willing to answer questions without putting you through a “hard sell.” They will guide you through the sinkhole repair process, should you need to make a claim.
At Helicon, we pride ourselves in helping our customers become educated consumers. Many of our customers have stated that our willingness to really help them understand what was happening to their property was one the key differences between us and our competitors. Click here to find out what some of our customers are saying.