Sinkhole Damages Explained
Sinkhole activity is complicated, but detecting the damage signs of sinkhole activity is simple - just look around your home. Since actual "sinkhole activity" is a geological and legal term referring to the process of water dissolving limestone deep in the ground, it isn’t really something that you can easily see with the naked eye unless an active surface “hole” opens up in the ground (about 1 out of 5,000 times).

Unfortunately, there’s no one "test" to determine if you have a sinkhole or not. Instead geologists and engineers look at many different facts in deciding whether they think sinkhole activity is affecting a particular home or building.

Here are some symptoms of sinkhole activity that sinkhole professionals look for in their sinkhole investigations:

Cracking (Ceiling, Walls)
Virtually every single home or structure impacted by sinkhole activity shows cracking. Sometimes the cracks will be in the walls, or the floors or tiles, or the ceiling. Sometimes cracks will be in the interior of the home, other times the exterior. And sometimes cracks will be everywhere. Experts look to see how many cracks there are - is there just a single odd crack or are there numerous cracks in different locations? How wide are the cracks - are they just "hair line" cracks about the width of a hair, or do they range in width? How long are the cracks? Are they "growing" in width or length?

Are your floors level? Sinkhole activity often causes one part of your home to sink or drop slightly lower than the other parts of your home. Most floor slabs were poured fairly level - and floor slabs that are not level can be a symptom of sinkhole activity. Does one part of your home, or even part of a room, feel higher or lower than another part? Can you feel any cracking under the carpet? Here’s an easy test if you have floors without carpeting - take a golf ball or other type of hard ball, put it on different spots on the floor, and see if it rolls. On a level floor, the ball should stay in its place - but a floor that is sloping will cause the ball to roll!

Do your tiles have cracks? Floor tiles are often the first parts of a home to show distress when sinkhole activity is impacting a home. Some tiles can become loose or pop up. Others might crack or have a "hollow" sound if you tap them. As the floor shifts, even very slightly, it can cause the tile to become loose & “de-bond” from the glue & flooring.

Interior Walls
Wall Separation - Have any walls separated from ceilings? Are there cracks running along the seams? Are the walls attached to the floor or baseboard, or are there gaps and cracks? Do the walls seem attached to the floor, or are there gaps along some of the baseboards?

Cracks - do any of your interior walls have cracks? Look at window and door frames - cracks will often form in the corner areas of door and window frames because this is a structurally weak area. Are any cracks on an outer wall? Can you see daylight through any cracks? How wide are the cracks and how many cracks are there? Are the cracks straight "up and down" cracks or are they diagonal?

Nail popping - are any drywall nails popping out or pushing through the drywall? Are the drywall tape lines becoming visible?

Water spots - do any walls show wetness or dried water spots, possibly indicating a leak or flooding had occurred? Do any areas of the home get damp during heavy rains? Do any areas of the home have a moldy or mildew smell?

Kitchen and Bath
Is the counter backsplash firmly attached to the wall? - Sinkhole activity can cause the counter and the backsplash to begin to separate from the wall, leaving gaps that shouldn’t be there.

Cabinets and drawers - do your cabinets and drawers open and close normally? Do the cabinets seem firmly attached to the walls, or have they seemed to pull apart or separate? Do they look level or have they shifted and moved somewhat? Do drawers not open and close the way they used to?

Cracked tiles - are there any cracked tiles on the walls or floor? In the shower, are all the tiles firmly attached, or have some loosened? Are there any cracks in grouting surrounding the tiles?

Drains - have any drains backed up or gotten more "slow?"

Open and close - Doors that are level will open and close without difficulty. Does your door seem off level? Any trouble opening or closing the door?
Screen door - is the screen door straight and level? Does it hang crookedly at all?

Do any windows stick or get stuck? Is it easy to open and close them? Do the windows look level and normal, or off somewhat? Look closely around the window and window frame - these areas can be very weak parts of a wall and are often times the first parts of a home to show signs of stress and cracking. Are there any cracks in the corners?

Water and power bills
Does your electric bill seem higher than it should? What about your water bill? - Sinkhole activity can cause the structure of a home to be shifted. Even a slight shift to the foundation or structure can cause a home or building to lose some of its energy efficiency, resulting in increased costs to heat or cool the building. Shifting of the structure can also cause pipes to leak, sometimes only slightly, that can increase the amount of water used.

Exterior walls
Cracks - do any exterior walls show cracks? Look carefully, particularly around exterior doors and windows and in the stucco. Do the cracks form a pattern that looks like stairs going up? Are any cracks diagonal? How many cracks?

How long and how wide? Do the cracks appear to be growing in width, length or quantity? Is the cracking concentrated in one or two areas, or is there widespread cracking throughout the exterior? Is there any cracking or separation between the exterior walls and roof? Has any stucco or paint chipped away? Are there any signs of "patched" cracks?

Ground surface
Flat or sloping? Is your yard flat, or does it slope, dip or slant? Have you noticed your yard seeming to slowly change or disappear over time?

Holes? - Are there any holes in your yard, regardless of the size?

Depressions? - Does a part of the yard seem to dip or be slightly lower, or more depressed, than other parts of the yard?

Dead spots - are there dead patches of grass, plants or shrubs, sometimes in a circular pattern?

Very soft soils - are any soils softer than other soils? Do you "sink" slightly if you step on a certain area?

Nearby water bodies - is there a lake or drainage pond nearby? What about a stream or canal? These water bodies can sometimes mask - or in fact are themselves - sinkholes.

Fencing - is your fence straight and level? Or does it seem to "sway" slightly, or dip slightly at certain parts?

Concrete block or brick fence/wall - are there any cracks in the wall? Have any of the blocks or bricks seem to shift?

Lost water - has your pool seemed to leak or lose water?

Cracked tiles - do you have cracked tiles around your pool area? In your pool?

Cracks in the concrete?

Screened in patio - any trouble with the screened in patio? Doors level and working normally?

Do any of your neighbors have sinkholes? - If one or more neighbors has sinkhole activity occurring on their property, it increases the likelihood that your home might be impacted by sinkhole activity as well -sinkholes don’t stop at property lines!

Sinkhole repair - has a neighbor had a sinkhole "repaired" with concrete grouting? Have you seen concrete trucks in your neighborhood? Have you noticed any cracking forming in your home after a neighbor has had their sinkhole "repaired?"

Does your driveway have cracks? How many? How wide are the cracks? Do the cracks seem to grow longer or wider over time?
Driveway level? Normal driveways will often be level or have a slight degree of slope towards the street. If your driveway has a dramatic slope, or has patches or holes in it, or seems hollow, these may indicate conditions associated with sinkhole activity.

Homes and buildings impacted by sinkhole activity might show some or all of these symptoms. Although things other than sinkhole activity can and do cause these signs to occur, if you are experiencing one of more of these symptoms your home may be impacted by sinkhole activity.

Find out more with a FREE Home Evaluation by SinkTeam’s experienced Florida sinkhole experts. Call a SinkTeam Public Adjuster today at: 813-435-1616.

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