Tag Archives: Clay Soil Conditions

Sinkhole Tragedy Strikes Canada

I do not like to necessarily post about every sinkhole that is reported in the news, but this is a big one.
Apparently, the geology of Canada is much akin to those areas in the United States impacted by sinkhole activity.

After reading this, I called a geologist who I know has done a lot of work throughout North America.  His comment about Canada is that it has much of the same overall geology as we find in areas in the United States where sinkholes are present.  You are going to look for shallow limestone or clay soil conditions and a rising and falling water table.

Sinkhole activity, he said, is about soil density.  When conditions such as this are present, you can see dramatic catastrophic collapses such as that shown in this video.

Cracks In Home Expand in Summer and Contract in Winter

Damage that only gets worse in warmer months

If you find that your home’s damage stops during the colder months, this doesn’t mean that it’s simply stopped getting worse and you don’t have to worry about it anymore. While you may get a break during the winter, keep an eye out in the spring for the same damage to get increasingly more severe.

You may have sinkhole activity at the home, but you may also have other conditions as well.  Sinkhole activity is impacted by the dissolution of limestone near or beneath the structure.  This dissolution often occurs when the water table near your home rises and falls.

Therefore, when the water level shifts throughout the year, so may the health of your home.

Why this happens

In homes with clay type soils, water can cause the soil to expand and contract. This process is more often referred to as “shrink-swell clays,” and often serves as a basis to deny a sinkhole claim.

Thus, during long periods of extreme dryness and extreme rain, it is not uncommon to experience a stopping and starting of the damage. You may additionally check to see if the damage is caused by a tree, as seasonal fluctuations in clay soils from trees can look similar.

What to do

My suggestion would be for you to make some kind of record of the seasonal foundational damage, either through photographing the damage alongside a ruler and noting the date.  Go back to the same damage weeks later, with the same ruler and photograph the damage again.

This will provide you a basis to fully understand the nature of the soil conditions, damage and whether it is active.  Note, if you believe the damage may be sinkhole related, or just if you believe the damage is getting worse, it may be appropriate for you to notify your insurance company.  Certainly, do not consider changing your insurance company, if you are, until such time as you get a sense of this situation.