Sinkholes: Why So Common in Florida?

For Florida residents, sinkholes are as much a part of the normal landscape as palm trees and beaches. Florida has more sinkholes than any other state, which means sinkhole repair services are almost an everyday necessity.

Sinkholes have been getting a lot more attention recently, but experts say it isn’t because they’re occurring more frequently. Because certain high-profile incidents have received a lot of press in recent years, people might worry that there are a lot more sinkhole problems than there used to be.

If you’re dealing with a questionable dip in your yard or worried about the possibility of a sinkhole forming under your house, you may be wondering if you’ll be needing sinkhole repairs soon. To help you understand how sinkholes are formed and what they mean for you, keep reading.

Why do sinkholes occur in Florida?

The typical soil in Florida’s peninsula has a layer of lime rock close to the surface, usually extending between 30 and 60 feet deep. This limestone is very porous — essentially full of holes, kind of like Swiss cheese — which allows it to store and move water underground. The more pores develop in the rock, the weaker the layer becomes.

In the residential parts of Florida you usually can’t see the limestone layer because it’s covered with dirt, sand, and clay. But if the lime rock underneath begins to dissolve from acid in the groundwater, a void can develop under the ground. This results in a limestone “roof” over the void, which can weaken over time. When there’s too much pressure on the surface from dirt or heavy construction, a sinkhole can form out of nowhere as the limestone roof gives way.

What triggers sinkholes?

As you can see, sinkholes are naturally-occurring, but outside circumstances can trigger them. Some triggers include heavy rainfall (especially after a drought), tropical storms, and human activity like construction.

A common human activity to cause sinkholes is heavy pumping of groundwater for spraying oranges and strawberries during freezes. This keeps the plants from being damaged by the cold, but it also weakens the limestone layer. As already noted, construction work such as excavation, well drilling, or even repairing water lines can also trigger sinkholes. Simple activities like these which wouldn’t be any cause for alarm in other states can send homeowners scrambling for sinkhole repairs in Florida.

Where do sinkholes occur the most?

While most of the peninsula is susceptible to sinkholes occurring, there are three counties in the Tampa area known as “sinkhole alley” where sinkholes are most common. A full two-thirds of sinkhole damage claims between 2006 and 2010 came from the counties of Pasco, Hernando, and Hillsborough.

Fortunately for residents in South Florida, sinkholes are less likely to occur there. This includes Florida’s two most-populated counties, Broward and Miami-Dade.

How much does sinkhole damage in Florida cost?

According to the state Office of Insurance Regulation, insurance claims for sinkhole repairs cost insurers $1.4 billion between 2006 and 2010.

How do I know if I have a sinkhole problem?

There are several signs and symptoms of possible sinkhole occurrence you can watch for on your property. The following are a few to look out for:

  • – Cracks in your foundation
  • – Cracks in walls or floors
  • – Small holes in the ground
  • – Water pooling in your yard
  • – Soft spots in your yard
  • – Pools losing water for no apparent reason
  • – Sinking fence posts

If you suspect there may be a sinkhole on your property, it’s very important that you get it checked out by a trustworthy sinkhole specialist right away. Especially if you notice signs of possible sinkhole damage in your home’s structure, you should reach out to your local foundation services.

For foundation repair Florida residents trust, contact Foundation Technologies today.

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