Tag Archives: Cracks in Home

How Rainfall Can Effect Sinkholes

Are there particular seasons where sinkhole activity is most likely to occur?

Sinkhole activity is less of an event and more of a process.  Because the majority of confirmed sinkholes are found due to the slow, gradual settlement of rock, they are likely to have occurred months, and sometimes years before they are ever reported.

Because the energy behind sinkholes is water, the rise and fall of the water table often causes additional activity.  As the water washes over limestone, it increases the dissolution of the rock and continues to move soil away from the location.  By so doing, the limestone is more likely to sink or move.  During seasonal changes, the action of water then causes more settlement.

During seasonal changes, it is always wise to do an external checkup of your home, to determine it’s overall condition.  Using a video camera, you can note the condition of the home so that you can compare it to any damage that may appear later in the summer.

Water is skinny

Depending on the kind of paint currently found on the outside of your home, you always want to consider whether your home is in need of a new paint job.  If you do see any surface cracks, it is important to learn why they may be there and to seal them.  This way, as the seasonal rains come in Florida, you can rest assured that no water gets behind your stucco.  As one structural engineer once told me, ‘water is very skinny’, and get can into just about any cracks or crevice.

Later in the year, when the rains stop, take another look at the exterior, to make sure you do not have any problems.  That way, if there are any issues, you have made at least some record of them.  Florida weather is hard on buildings, many of which may not have been constructed in a manner able to handle our harsh conditions.  Between sinkholes and hurricanes, it is wise to use the changing seasons as a marker regarding the condition of your most valuable investment.

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.