The sinkhole experts
WHAT ARE SINKHOLES?
Most sinkholes in Georgia occur where debris such as trash, stumps, tree branches and other building materials were buried during a construction project. Over time, the debris decays, leaving an empty space under the ground. Hidden under a layer of soil, this space goes unnoticed until it finally caves in, leaving in a sunken area, crack or hole in the landscape. Less commonly, sinkholes in Georgia may be caused by broken water pipes such as storm drain pipes, cisterns or disturbance of the soil (by digging, drilling, soil removal), vibrations caused by traffic or mine blasting. Underground water can form one as well.
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What damage can a sinkhole really do?
Sinkholes can cause death or injury! If someone is injured while on your property as a result of your sinkhole, you are responsible no matter who or what caused your sinkhole! Sinkholes have also been reported to cause entire homes to collapse on people like the man in Florida, and in Canada, killing the entire family. SEE ARTICLE
Sinkholes can cause damage to driving surfaces like parking lots and driveways! If a sinkhole starts to form near or under your driveway for instance, you may start to notice cracks or uneven surfaces. These are signs of a void present underground. You may already be able to see under your driveway. Your driveway must be repaired at this point or you may lose your car or even you!
Sinkholes can cause foundation damage! Your whole house could collapse if your sinkhole is not excavated and your foundation repaired. Sinkhole remediation is not an option at this point, it's a must!
Sinkholes can also cause structural damage. Sometimes when sinkholes form under structures like retaining walls, they cause them to collapse. If a sinkhole has formed in certain areas, you may also notice sagging fence, sinking decks, and sunken patios.
Sinkholes can destroy pools! If a sinkhole is anywhere near a pool, it can cause the pool to crack, leak, and sometimes even causing the pool to collapse.
Sinkholes can kill the sod & vegetation in your yard. Sinkholes can expose sod, tree, and other plant roots, resulting in a lack of water to these roots. Sinkhole remediation can't save the roots already lost or exposed, but it can save the other plants from the same fate. In the case with trees, damage from sinkholes to the root system can take up to 7 years to manifest!
Sinkholes can delay the buying or selling of a home! Sinkholes have to be repaired before you can sell your home. We get so many calls from homeowners who are purchasing a home that need an estimate for sinkhole remediation of a home they are purchasing. In these cases, the seller almost always is responsible for the sinkhole repair unless noted in their contract with the buyer. If you cover up a sinkhole and sell your home without proper sinkhole remediation, the buyer can come back and sue you.
Does your sinkhole look like this???
Sinkholes can be deceiving like this sinkhole in Duluth Ga. Sinkholes can seem just like settling ground or they are mistaken for just a hilly landscape.
Sinkholes under driveways cause major damage like this driveway in Lawrenceville, Ga.
Sinkholes under fences can indicate can stretch from one property to another like this sinkhole in Snellville, Ga.
This is a sinkhole caused by erosion next to a drainage structure in Lawrenceville, Ga 30045.
Sinkhole under patios can cause your patios to collapse and cause major voids like this patio in Atlanta, Ga.
Sinkholes under walkways can do major damage like this sidewalk in Peachtree City, Ga.
Sinkholes cause retaining walls to collapse like this sinkhole in Lawrenceville, Ga.
This sinkhole was caused by a culvert pipe that collapsed under this driveway in Sandy Springs, Ga.
This irrigation started leaking, causing a huge void underground in Lawrenceville, Ga.
This sinkhole is an old well in Smyrna, Ga. No matter the cause of sinkholes, the repair is just about the same.
Sinkholes next to pool can cause pools to collapse in Dunwoody, Ga.
How not to repair a sinkhole
Sinkhole remediation is not a choice in most cases, it's a must! Many companies will try to just put dirt in your sinkhole or pour concrete into the hole (called GROUTING) to solve the problem. BIG NO NO! If you pump concrete into your sinkhole, you are still leaving the decaying debris / material there to continue its decaying process, and the problem is still there. You are also adding weight to the decaying material and that will just compress the decaying material in your trash pit, causing the sinkhole to sink even faster the next time.
There are VERY few exceptions to this rule as there are certain situations. This method is used only if you are installing piers under your home sometimes, but if you were to do this under other structures such as a patio, driveway, retaining wall, or middle of your yard , your sinkhole will continue to spread and eventually take that structure it is under with it when it collapses, causing serious structural damage or even death! The sinkhole repair bill will become even higher as you will then have to remove that concrete to even get to the root of the problem (in this case its decaying vegetation material), the next time the sinkhole collapses. Remember, concrete cannot stop the decaying process of a trash pit.
There are now larger companies out there pumping foam into sinkholes. This is also a huge NO NO! The root cause of the sinkhole is still not being repaired by doing this. In Florida, a foam type substance is pumped into the porous limestone that helps stabilize their sinkholes. The limestone is a naturally occurring rock that is actually used in the making of concrete! The limestone is not decaying material! In Georgia, sinkholes are mostly caused by decaying material and foam WILL NOT stop the material from decaying!
SINKHOLE EXCAVATION IS THE ONLY COMPLETE SINKHOLE REPAIR METHOD! YOU CAN'T FULLY REPAIR A SINKHOLE WITHOUT REMOVING THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE SINKHOLE!
Putting dirt in the sinkhole isn't going to stop anything from decaying either. Putting dirt in a sinkhole also puts more weight on top of the decaying material. This tends to speed the decaying process up as you compact those decaying materials. Putting dirt in your sinkhole might be a quick cheap fix but for how long? It's then not of a question of if, but when will the sinkhole sink again.
There are VERY few exceptions to this rule as there are certain situations. For example, a customer has a sinkhole they share with a neighbor and they are willing to repair the sinkhole, but the neighbor is not. In this situation, you cannot excavate one side of a sinkhole and not the other. You can blow out the other side of the hole, not to mention the sinkhole will never truly be fixed, which waste your money! Proper sinkhole remediation is very important. You risk not only the lives of yourself, but the lives of others. People have also been suggested to plant a tree in the sinkhole or other plants. Again, the problem has not been removed, otherwise you are basically feeding an underground compost pile. Since you can't see how large the problem is, there is no way to tell if the plants planted, concrete poured, dirt thrown in, or other materials used to fill your sinkhole, even cover it.
HOW TO PROPERLY REPAIR A SINKHOLE
The problem with sinkholes is that you just don't know how large the sinkholes are underground. You could possibly have a tiny sinkhole or a massive sinkhole. Most sinkhole openings look very small from the surface or all you can see is a depression in the ground.
Excavate your sinkhole- The only way to know for sure what the root cause may be for a sinkhole is to dig. If the root cause of your sinkhole is from rotting vegetation and debris (known as a builder debris pit), then all debris and rotting vegetation such as trees or stumps must be excavated. You can dig it by hand, but most of the time a small or large machine must be brought in.
Fill & compact your excavated sinkhole- Once the sinkhole is fully excavated, dirt can then be put back in to fill the sinkhole. Depending on the location of the sinkhole, aggregate in smaller amounts can be put in the hole to help as well. A sinkhole should NEVER be repaired solely by gravel, concrete or any other material. The dirt must always be compacted correctly too. If the dirt is not compacted, it becomes loose, erodes away, and re-sinks. Your sinkhole should be compacted every 12-18 inches and sometimes more depending on the area. The right kind of dirt must be put back into the sinkhole too. If you put for instance, just a SAND based dirt back into your sinkhole, then the sand will settle and seep through any cracks in the earth and once again, you'll have re-sinking. Once the dirt is fully compacted down, ground cover can be placed after grading. Seems like a long expensive process, but if you are going to repair your sinkhole, do it right the first time to avoid even more costly s