Before the Rainy Season; Things to Know About Sinkholes
By: Jeff Philbin, Helicon Marketing Director
The number of sinkholes in Florida has surged since Hurricane Irma. Some 400 sinkholes have been reported statewide since Hurricane Irma hit in September.
Prior to the storm, which torrential downfall of rainwater we experienced an extended drought that can leave the limestone underlying your property with air-filled (rather than water-filled) cavities. These cavities can be easily filled with overlying soils and transported by your much-anticipated heavy rainfall. These prolonged drought events followed by large amounts of rainfall in a short time can expose a subsurface feature that has been hidden for many years. Cavities cannot and do not develop following a single heavy rain, but sinkholes certainly can and do.
With the rainy season here in Florida just right around the corner for the summer months it is important to take a look at what is going on and determine its cause. The best solution to protect your home and investment is to be proactive.
Tampa Bay is already especially prone to them because of the old limestone with deep cavities. Add some rain and the ground is even more unstable.
Millions of years of coastal and oceanic processes has shaped the geologic landscape of Florida. These processes have created a porous, highly variable karst landscape that is particularly prone to sinkholes. Especially during tropical weather systems, abundant amounts of rainfall, in short periods of time, can trigger the formation of sinkholes and cause erosional problems. These events can significantly impact your home and property.
Where limestone is observed at the surface down to 100-200 feet, it is common to see surface expressions of karst topography, such as sinkholes. The geologic map below illustrates areas where soils overlying limestone are thinnest and thus prone to sinkhole development. Water fills the cavities as they exist within Florida’s limestone, and since many are below the water table. Under those conditions, cavities are typically stable. Problems arise when large volumes of water or water-saturated soils overlie an air-filled cavity. Under these conditions, the ceiling of the cavity can collapse, allowing surface materials to flow into the void. This type of sinkhole is commonly observed during or after heavy rain-producing tropical events like hurricanes. It is known as a cover-collapse sinkhole.
WHAT ARE SOME SINKHOLE SIGNS TO BE AWARE OF
- Cracks in the walls
- Cracks around the door or window frames
- Cracks in the floor or pavement
- Cracks in and around the pool area
- Cracks in the foundation or the structure separating from the foundation
- Not being able to close doors and windows correctly
- Pooling of water on the property
- Slumping or slanting trees or sagging fencing
- Wilting vegetation in small circular areas
WHEN TO BRING IN THE BEST
Helicon is the premier geotech construction company in Florida. Based out of Tampa, FL. we are a licensed general contractor leading the industry in full-service geotech construction work.
We are experts in pre-construction, soil and structural stabilization, & sinkhole repair. As the premier provider of geotech construction services throughout the state of Florida for nearly 15 years, Helicon prides itself on providing high-quality service, for both insurance companies and private customers with handling all repairs and pre-construction work for both residential and commercial projects. We strive to exceed everyone’s expectations.
Helicon has successfully completed thousands of projects in the state of Florida with a focus on the Tampa Bay metropolitan area, including the surrounding counties of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Polk, Citrus and Marion counties. Our professional Helicon Teams are trained and equipped with the tools and expertise needed to execute a flawless and professional experience using the latest technology to repair or prevent for your particular project.
We invest in our teams ensuring they remain up to date on the latest industry technology and training. Our Office Teams will answer all your questions, provide professional service, give knowledgeable advice, and execute a project that will fully satisfy our customers.