Large Sinkhole Swallows Street and Threatens Homes in Spring Hill Florida

It’s scary to think you could find the perfect house and then realize there is something terribly wrong!  Normally the “big” items are caught during a home inspection and you either receive leverage on negotiating the house’s price or you have Sink hole opens up north of tampa in spring hill communitythe opportunity to walk away.

The only problem is when it happens to be a sinkhole it is difficult to predetermine the problem.  Sinkholes in Florida are much like floods or even hurricanes, you know if you live in an area that is prone to these “acts of God” but you cannot tell the future so you never know if or when a sinkhole will actually occur.  This is exactly what happened in a neighborhood just 50 miles north of Tampa and no, this won’t be the first or the last.

On July 20th a sinkhole opened up in Spring Hill, FL right in the road and adjacent front yards 40-yards wide and 30-feet deep.  County officials will investigate the hole to determine the next action.  Engineers will look at geological test to ensure the hole is not going to grow even further.  No one was hurt but until the investigation is complete three of the closest home owners are awaiting the results and the fourth homeowner is planning to move out.

For homeowners the most important things to keep in mind about sinkholes are:

  1. Insurance costs and effects the sinkhole would have.
  2. Acts of God can happen almost anywhere.
  3. Knowing your neighborhood is more important than how much you love the house.

Bottom line is Florida is all limestone and when the water table drops the cavities under the surface can open up forming a sink hole.  With an increase in property development, water management (or there lack of) and erosion it is sometimes a recipe for sinkholes.   There is an upside though, you can get this information and have the ground tested by professional engineers.  There is always a chance something not so favorable could happen but do your due diligence of the areas you are looking to live in.  Much like living in flood zones, sinkholes are tracked and state geologists are working on creating a statewide map showing where sinkholes are most likely to form.  The fieldwork they completed has offered a “relative vulnerability” map that has proved to be 93 percent successful in the plot area predicting where sinkholes will form.  The plot area includes 230 locations in the Columbia, Hamilton and Suwannee counties.

If you are in the process of searching for a new home you will definitely benefit from the information provided on our MoveMap! You can research all kinds of information about your potential home, neighborhood and surrounding community so you can make sure the home you buy is the perfect home for you!

Florida Sinkhole Information: What Is A Sinkhole And How Can They Effect My Home

Sinkholes, like the one that recently opened up near Legoland in Winter Haven are common in Florida.  While most sinkhole locations in floridasinkholes don’t result in the kind of tragedy that cost a Tampa area man his life earlier this year, they do occur fairly regularly and can pose a significant risk to property.  In this blog post, we’ll explain a little bit about how sinkholes form and why they are so common in Florida; we’ll also give you a few suggestions on how to protect your property from sinkholes.

Sinkholes result naturally from Florida’s unique combination of limestone bedrock and surface/groundwater chemistry.  Much of Florida has what are commonly called karst features underground.  Karst topography is often described as cavernous underground terrain consisting of pits, crevices, voids, underground rivers, etc.  Karsts arise because Florida’s bedrock is made of limestone; which is an alkaline, calcium rich sedimentary rock.  Limestone’s solubility in water and weak acids causes it to become porous; gradually, surface water made slightly acidic by Florida’s soil seeps down into the alkaline limestone and dissolves it. Over eons, this process gives rise to the fissures and caves we see today.  If the cavern that develops is close to the surface, it can cause a sinkhole when the sediment (soil or clay) that constitutes the ceiling of the cavern settles or collapses into it, under its own weight.

Complicated geological explanations aside, from the surface sinkholes can be described quite simply as large depressions in the ground which can vary considerably in terms of depth and width.  Readily identifiable by their round shapes, many of Central Florida’s lakes are simply sinkholes which have filled with water.  While their true geological lifetimes span millennia, as viewed from the surface, sinkholes may open up gradually over a period of days or months, as in the case with the Legoland sinkhole; or they can evolve extremely rapidly as the ground’s surface collapses in minutes.  This was the case with the sinkhole which opened up under a Tampa man’s home earlier this year, tragically taking his life.  Fortunately, rapid-collapse type sinkholes are extremely rare.  The Legoland type sinkhole is much more common.

Florida’s karst geology means that predicting where or when a sinkhole will occur is extremely difficult.  Even with modern drilling equipment, sophisticated analysis of soil/rock samples in the lab, and ground penetrating radar, professional engineers and geologists still have an exceptionally challenging time predicting where, or even if, a sinkhole will occur.  The implications for homeowners are mixed.  On the one hand, if a sinkhole opened up a few blocks away from your house, there isn’t necessarily any reason to expect that you will have a similar experience.  On the other hand, if you live in an area that’s free of reported sinkholes, there’s no guarantee it will stay that way.

Needless to say, the common occurrence of sinkholes in Florida, coupled with the difficulty in predicting where exactly they will open up causes many homeowners a fair amount of anxiety.  The good news is that sinkholes rarely pose a threat to human life.  They do certainly cause structural damage to buildings, but this can be mitigated through insurance.  In fact, many insurance companies that operate in Florida provide sinkhole coverage.  These companies also have the right to deny you coverage if there are sinkholes in the ‘area’ around your prospective home.  The term ‘area’ is loosely defined and policies between companies differ, so it’s best to shop around for pricing and availability.  Chances are, even if you’re in a risky ‘area’, there will still be someone willing to provide coverage.

If you’d like to see a map of sinkholes throughout Florida, check out the MoversAtlas MoveMap, it contains sinkholes and other ‘subsidence features’ throughout the state.  The map is composed of voluntary sinkhole reports, so it tends to biased towards populated areas.  It’s important to note that there are several maps (some of which are proprietary) used by insurance companies to quantify sinkhole risk, so the one you’re looking at here may be different from what your agent is using, but will give you an idea of how many sinkholes are in your community.  Good luck with your home search!