A sinkhole is a common occurrence in the state of Florida, with warning signs of sinkholes being difficult to spot in many cases. Sometimes a sinkhole can take hours to cause problems, and sometimes it will be months or even years.
It is estimated that between the years of 2006 and 2010, almost 17 insurance claims a day were made in Florida as a result of sinkholes. Those claims totaled over $1.4 billion dollars in sinkhole damage in the state of Florida alone over a four-year period.
Recognize the warning signs of sinkholes with this complete guide right here.
Understanding Warning Signs of Sinkholes
There are no two sinkholes created equally, and so the warning signs of sinkholes will vary from one sinkhole to the next. But there are still many clues in or around your home that can give you an idea if you are near a sinkhole, or perhaps even sitting on one.
Because of how sinkholes are formed in the Earth, the state of Florida has almost more sinkholes than any other state. A sinkhole is literally a hole in the ground, that starts off as a hole in the Earth that is covered by an Earth ceiling.
When that ceiling falls, you see a sinkhole in the ground. They are dramatic on the news as they are usually profiled when a car drives in them, or a sinkhole swallows home, as has been known to happen.
They aren’t always that big, however. A sinkhole occurs when water gets into the bedrock of the earth and begins to erode at it, which causes cracks.
Over time, those cracks become a tiny fissure or hole, and that hole expands in time. Eventually, it is almost as if a cave exists in the bedrock.
Most of the time those caves stay covered by the Earth, but when the ceiling on that hole collapses, we get a sinkhole.
That can be a dangerous and potentially devastating situation. Discover more about sinkhole losses and damages if you are seeing some of the warning signs of sinkholes.
1. Problems With Doors and Cabinets
If you are starting to notice some structural issues at home that don’t appear to be major right now, you might be experiencing some of the warning signs of sinkholes. One of those minor things is a tilt or lilt in any of your doors or cabinets.
You may have problems closing doors, or seeing them jam more often than they have in the past. Homes always have a way of settling into the Earth over time, and so if you are experiencing any kind of unevenness this doesn’t always mean you have a sinkhole.
But if you find that latches on doors or cupboards don’t meet anymore, or drawers appearing uneven, you might have a sinkhole and should look for other warning signs of sinkholes.
Cracks in concrete on or around your home will also begin to crop up when there is a sinkhole. You may see them on your walls, and should look for them near the corners where your walls and ceilings meet.
You also want to look for cracks around windows and doors. Don’t assume that every crack means you have a sinkhole.
Cracks related to sinkholes often have a crocodile skin-like appearance, in that they appear like large uneven circles that you might see on a crocodile or alligator print.
3. Examine Walls and Floors
One of the most important warning signs of sinkholes is spotted in walls and flooring. You may actually see a wall begin to pull away from a ceiling or from another wall.
Or you may see a gap between ceilings and walls in some sections. That separation is something worth looking into.
Another more subtle sign of a sinkhole is in slanted flooring or in molding that may be coming from the wall. You will see it pulling away in the molding.
Floors can sometimes take on a slanted appearance as well. In homes with hardwood floors, you are going to see some buckling and dipping in sections, and that is normal with hardwood floors.
It doesn’t always mean you are seeing the warning signs of sinkholes. But you do also want to look for similar tilting or lilting in your backyard as well.
If you find anything that looks like it needs repairs, it’s then time to begin searching for a water restoration company who can help assist you in getting your home back into tip-top shape.
4. Water Changes
You are also going to be seeing some water changes on or around your property if you have a sinkhole problem. One of the warning signs of sinkholes is the disappearance of water into a section of the ground with no known reason.
If you have a well on your property, you may also notice a drop in your levels. This is an indication that your wall water is going into the ground, and leading to the development of a sinkhole.
You may also note what rain smells like on some occasions, it is usually considered a lovely and fresh scent in the spring. But one of the warning signs of sinkholes is an Earthy switch to the scent of rain.
You also want to look for cloudiness in well water, or even debris leaking into your well.
If your backyard begins to smell more like a garden than usual, you may have a sinkhole.
Sinkholes Are Common
It is estimated that approximately 20% of the land in the United States is prone to sinkhole activity. Most American sinkhole activity occurs in Florida, with other states including Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Kentucky, Alabama, and Missouri, also seeing sinkhole activity.
Sinkholes are so common in Florida however that the insurance industry has legislation and mandates to follow when appraising sinkhole damage.
Check out the Florida sinkhole statutes as of 2019 for more information on the laws involving sinkholes in this state.
But even so, sinkhole claims are still very complex. Understanding the warning signs of sinkholes can go a long way towards saving money on both your insurance costs and your homeowner costs.
You also want to be sure that you know those warning signs for factors beyond the financial. Your home, your car, your office, your backyard, and every space in the world that you hold dear to you is home to valuables, mementos, and memories, that no insurance claim can ever replace if lost into a sinkhole.
If you are dealing with sinkhole problems, contact the experts that can help you through the insurance process and help you understand the warning signs of sinkholes more.
Insurance experts can take the guesswork out of this process and will advocate for you in negotiating the insurance process after you’ve undergone the stress of a sinkhole.