Sinkholes – What Causes Them? How to Know if There are Present

A large sinkhole swallowed a portion of a Tampa, Florida home last week, resulting in an occupant losing his life. This sudden thrust into the mainstream media has made many people wonder what causes these strange events and if there is anyway to know if a sinkhole lurking beneath a home.

The fact is that sinkholes occur all over Florida on a regular basis. The Tampa sinkhole made the news due to its rather large size and because a person lost his life in the event. Why do sinkholes occur in the Sunshine State? For two reasons really, the vast amount of rainfall Florida receives is one reason as is the fact that over half the state sits on limestone. When it rains, over time, the acidic rainwater seeps into the crevices and open spaces of the limestone beneath, dissolving the bedrock. Sooner or later the dissolving rock will cave in and create a funnel-like occurrence which sucks the ground above and anything on it into the ground.

Sinkhole testing is advised before one buys a house in Florida. Anyone thinking of buying property in Florida should have a test conducted just be to sure that the home or business is not sitting on a ticking time bomb. It is also advisable for Florida home and business owners to check with their insurance companies to see if they have sinkhole coverage. All insurance companies licensed to do business in the Sunshine State have to under law, offer sinkhole coverage. Of course, you’ll have to pay a higher premium for this added coverage.

So what are the telltale signs of a sinkhole? If the windows and doors of your home or business suddenly don’t fit or if they won’t close properly, you may be sitting on top of a sinkhole. Other things to watch for are warped fences and utility poles and fences which have loosened from the ground. Wobbly fences, posts and telephone poles are good indicators that a sinkhole is looming underneath, ready at any given time to cave in and take with it whatever is sitting above.

There are engineering firms located all across Florida which for a fee, will come to a property to test for sinkholes. This service is not the cheapest and it can take several days to complete such a test, but if you’re in doubt or are worried, getting the testing done would provide you with the answer you need be it good news or bad.

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