Commercial Construction & Contracting Resources

11 Signs a Sinkhole is Coming to Swallow Your Money

Posted by Tim Klingel on March 5, 2018


Yes, let’s put it that way. A sinkhole will swallow your money for sure. So let’s catch it before it gets here.

Water is a destructive force of nature. It also acts covertly like a Navy SEAL team. It’ll go undercover underground to erode and destroy before anyone even knows it’s a problem.

Then - BOOM - you’ve got a sinkhole! Whether they’re whoppers swallowing entire houses in Florida or smaller ones closing roads and parking lots here around Columbus, OH, sinkholes can be difficult to predict and expensive to fix.

Sinkhole Symptoms to Spot Before the Ground Crumbles Beneath You

Sinkholes collapse from unseen underground water problems. The same signs of an underground water leak could eventually cause enough subsurface erosion for a damaging sinkhole to occur.

These symptoms include:

  1. Unusual wet spots in landscaped areas
  2. Soft, mossy areas
  3. Pooling water
  4. Increasing water bills
  5. Less effective sprinkler system
  6. Decreasing water flow or pressure
  7. Rusty or roily water
  8. Whooshing or trickling sound
  9. Unnatural pavement cracking or heaving
  10. Uneven or cracking building structure
  11. Potholes

If you have any of these symptoms, run (don’t walk) to an experienced underground utility contractor who can fix the problem before it gets worse. Where there’s freely flowing water, there’s damage potentially waiting to occur.

The Physics Behind (or Rather Underneath) a Sinkhole

Basically, water from a broken water line or sewer line seeps or pours into the ground beneath the topsoil. It then erodes the subsurface and causes the topsoil and any structures and driving surfaces above it to collapse.

We deal most often with sinkholes in driving surfaces and around stormwater catch basins. Catch basins can be tricky. Who regularly inspects their catch basin? Well, you should. A hole can open in the pipe, allowing water to escape and erode the subsurface dirt and stone around the basin. It’s quite common as winter becomes spring and underground stormwater systems become inundated with thousands or even millions of gallons of water.

Next thing you know, a vehicle drives overhead and goes for the ride of its life. Let’s pray everyone’s OK!

To spot trouble before it gets worse, you should regularly inspect your catch basin for stone, dirt, or other material that wouldn’t otherwise be there. That’s a telltale sign of erosion nearby. You should also inspect your property, especially driving surfaces and buildings, for unexplained cracking and heaving. The Devil is in those details.

But What if It’s Too Late to Prevent a Sinkhole?

Unfortunately, like many things in life, the signs aren’t obvious until after disaster strikes. Or you could be diligent with routine maintenance in one place only to discover issues cropping up elsewhere.

Call a professional if you spot water where it shouldn’t be or anything else unusual. A relatively minor fix today could avoid a bankrupting catastrophe tomorrow.

Of course, if your commercial property in Central Ohio is experiencing underground utility problems or signs of a sinkhole, feel free to give us a call at (740) 223-7275. We’d be happy to take a look for you.


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Topics: Parking Lot, underground utilities, Ohio construction