Will Your Home Stand the Test of Time? Signs of a Sinkhole on Your Property

home-1682316_640Sinkholes are a fear factor for residents throughout the Southeast, specifically in Florida, since our soil composition, close proximity to the water table, and frequent rain make us susceptible to these destructive natural disasters. A sinkhole is just what it sounds like…a hole that develops under the ground and over time gets larger until the “crust” of soil and earth on top collapse in on themselves, taking anything sitting on top along with them. While not a huge ordeal when out in the woods or in a “natural” area, they are devastating when they develop under a major roadway, a large-scale building, and people’s homes. The worse part? Many homeowners are left holding the bill to replace their entire lives with no financial assistance, since many homeowners policies don’t cover sinkhole damage and loss outright.
Sinkhole coverage and protection is usually an add-on for homeowners policies, and it can be worth investing in if you live in an area that’s frequently affected by sinkholes. Even if you don’t have professionals evaluating your property on a frequent basis, you can do routine checks around your property and home that could signal you if something is going on under the surface of the ground, which would give you time to mitigate the issue and prepare rather than be caught by surprise.
These signs can be a clue that a sinkhole is developing or is possible around your property:
  • You notice trees, fence posts, or yard decor (lamp posts or flag poles) slanting or falling over with no outside force causing the problem. Yes, severe and/or frequent wind can lead to these issues occasionally, as can very wet weather that softens the ground, but if all other conditions are staying steady and you still notice trees tilting significantly, you might have a sinkhole issue.
  • Cracks in your foundation. Almost all foundations develop small, hairline cracks over time as the ground settles and the landscape changes subtly. However, if you notice significant and sudden cracking of your walls, patios, etc. and if you notice that doors are having trouble closing in your home, this can be a sign of a major shift in your foundation and that could be a telltale sign of a sinkhole under your home.
  • Dents, cracks, or holes developing in your yard. This seems obvious, but if you notice changes in the layout of your yard, like a pond draining suddenly, dips or holes showing up in your lawn, or major puddles developing in new places following storms, you could have a sinkhole problem looming on the horizon.
Don’t ignore any of these signs if they show up on your property. If you see unexplained issues like those mentioned above popping up in and around your home, contact an inspector or land management expert to determine if your concerns are founded, and help you determine the next steps to take. First and foremost though, talk to your insurance advisor about your current homeowners coverage, and what it can do for you if or when a sinkhole happens to you. Don’t be left uncovered. For residents in and around Winter Haven, Carroll Marshall Insurance can help you evaluate your current policy, and research various add-ons or secondary coverage options to make sure you are protected no matter what life throws your way. Call and make your appointment or stop by our Downtown Winter Haven office!

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