Florida occasionally makes the national news because of its large sinkholes. On July 14, 2017, a giant sinkhole appeared in Land ‘O Lakes, Florida, a community just north of Tampa in Pasco County. The sinkhole opened beneath a boat and was the size of a small swimming pool. That’s large enough to cause major concern.
The sinkhole grew rapidly until it was over 200 feet wide. It only took about 30 minutes for the sinkhole to develop into something large enough to swallow two houses. The sinkhole was thought to be at least 50 feet deep as well. If it doesn’t look like it, that’s because depth is difficult to perceive in images. Also, the sinkhole is full of water and has a film of dirt and debris floating on top.
When the sinkhole expanded to swallow two nearby homes, at least nine other homes around it were thought to be in danger. These homes were evacuated, just in case. Residents of the two houses that were originally engulfed were evacuated in time but they lost their personal possessions to the sinkhole. On July 15, the day after the sinkhole was originally discovered, it was reported that the sinkhole appeared to have stopped growing. That morning, Saturday, July 15, five homes within about a 20-mile radius of the sinkhole, were deemed unsafe to enter. However, residents of four other homes were allowed to enter their homes. Experts estimated that the repair process would take weeks, or even months. Repair teams were forced to treat the sinkhole as a hazmat situation since water inside the sinkhole was not draining due to the presence of debris.
Further Sinkhole Growth in Pasco County, Florida
The sinkhole continued to grow and caused another five homes nearby to be condemned. During the cleanup process on August 4, large pieces of the sinkhole’s edges collapsed, putting more homes in danger. By Monday, August 7, a total of seven homes were condemned due to damage from the sinkhole. Although experts are not entirely sure what caused the sinkhole to expand further, they think both seismic vibrations from trucks and equipment near the sinkhole, and previous sinkhole activity in the area could be to blame.
Crews had been working on stabilizing the sinkhole by dumping in crushed limestone, and cleaning the sinkhole by clearing out debris. However, they had to put repairs on hold until ground penetrating radar tests could determine the stability of the sinkhole and the surrounding site. The sinkhole was cleaned, but many of the area residents were still concerned.
The Gravity of Sinkholes in Florida
Sinkholes like this one are not uncommon in Florida. Every once in a while, a new story will appear about a large sinkhole opening up in the state and swallowing a house, a car, a driveway, etc. However, even more common than the appearance of these monster sinkholes is the formation of smaller sinkholes in Florida. These smaller sinkholes, though perhaps not as scary or news-worthy as their larger counterparts, can still be a danger to your home and family. Aside from being able to engulf portions of your house or property, smaller sinkholes can cause serious foundation problems in your home.
Stories like this one should alert you to how dangerous sinkholes can be. Even small sinkholes can grow quickly and lead to foundation failure. Do not hesitate when you see signs of a sinkhole near your Florida home or business.
Foundation Professionals of Florida Sinkhole Repair
If you have depressions in your yard, or foundation problems – cracks, settling or sinking, gaps or spaces, sloped or uneven floors, sticking doors or windows – in your home, contact us at Foundation Professionals of Florida today. Our team will examine your home and property to determine if the damage is the result of sinkhole activity.
If your foundation problems are the result of a sinkhole, we offer a few different options. The sinkhole likely needs to be filled, and the ground around it stabilized. We utilize cement grouting techniques to fill sinkholes and stabilize the ground around them. Sometimes, sinkhole repair merely involves filling in the sinkhole with soil. In other cases, if more stabilization is needed, we will use compaction grouting or permeation grouting to pump grout into the sinkhole and stabilize the surrounding soil.
For more information see Florida Sinkhole Repair Methods and Grouting vs Underpinning: Which Is Right For Your Project?