The Sinkhole Remediation Process
Sinkholes are a scary problem for any home or business owner. Because they are so common in Florida, it is important that you know who to call when you discover one on your property. When it comes to sinkholes, we are the experts.
How We Repair Sinkholes
Our team will carefully look at all factors and choose the right sinkhole remediation process. There are two primary methods used to fix sinkholes. The first method is known as grouting. In this method, soils under a home are stabilized using an injection of grout. This injection stops the soils from shifting or moving and fills in the void that the sinkhole created. We utilize both cement and chemical (polyurethane) grouting.
In this process, a cement-based grout is pumped underground and into the sinkhole through steel casings. We use a high pressure to pump the grout deep underground. Shallower parts of the sinkhole can often be filled with a wetter cement mixture. This method is used to fill voids and is good for sealing limestone. Cement grouting also provides the residence, structure, or roadway with a more stabilized, denser soil base.
This type of grouting, also known as polyurethane grouting, utilizes a resin (normally polyurethane) that is injected into the sinkhole to fill the void. The resin expands into an inert foam to provide both stabilization and lift. This polyurethane resin binds soils together and lifts the above slab or floor as it expands. The amount of pressure and expansion depend on the type of chemical compound used.
This is the second method is sinkhole remediation. The underpinning process consists of releveling or stabilizing a home or other structure through the use of steel piers. These piers are installed into deep, stable soils and used to hydraulically lift the concrete slab or foundation. This is not a common solution for sinkhole repair since it does not fix the underlying problem. Underpinning is used when there is major structural damage to a building and is also sometimes used in conjunction with a different type of sinkhole repair.
The damage that the sinkhole has caused and the makeup of the land underneath the affected structure will have an impact on which solution we choose. Before we choose a solution, we look at what type of sinkhole it is and what the ground is like.
Different Types of and Causes of Sinkholes
First, we will assess the damage and figure out what kind of sinkhole you have. There are three main types of sinkholes:
- Dissolution or Solution Sinkholes: This kind of sinkhole forms slowly. Dissolution or solution sinkholes happen when there is not very much soil or vegetation covering the limestone or bedrock. Water slowly flows over the bedrock and dissolves it. This results in a depression that might become a pond if it gets lined with debris. Surface water then fills the crevices in the limestone and slowly dissolves it, forming a sinkhole.
- Subsidence Sinkholes: This type of sinkhole occurs when rainwater soaks through sediment to reach the limestone, dissolving it and weakening it. These sinkholes are formed naturally over time, as small cracks in the limestone grow wider and wider due to erosion. Sediment from upper layers of land fill the cracks and a depression forms at the surface of the ground.
- Cover Collapse Sinkholes: These sinkholes collapse quickly and can be very dangerous. With this kind of sinkhole, there is usually a layer of clay under the ground cover and above the bedrock. Sediments from the ground level erode over time, and when only a thin layer remains, a sinkhole can open up quickly, revealing the underground void that has been forming.
Some sinkholes are also formed by human activity, such as pumping of groundwater during freezes to prevent crop damage, excavating, well drilling, landfill creation, broken water lines or leaks, and pounding or blasting for construction or mining.
What You Should Do if You See a Sinkhole
The most important thing you can do in case of a sinkhole is call the experienced team at Foundation Professionals of Florida as soon as you see one, or if you notice warning signs. Warning signs include:
- Slumping of the ground
- Leaning trees or fence poles
- Subsiding soil
- Exposed foundations or tree roots
- Structural cracks in doors, windows, or walls
- Foundation settlement
- Wilting vegetation in circular patches
- Small ponds or depressions
- Deep vertical holes of all sizes
If you notice any of these problems, call us right away. We have over 38 years of experience in geotechnical sciences and are equipped to handle any kind of sinkhole. Do not let a sinkhole endanger your home or family. Contact us today for all of your sinkhole repair needs in Florida.