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What Causes Sinkholes and How to Prevent Foundation Damage

What Causes Sinkholes and How to Prevent Foundation Damage - Ground Up Foundation Repair

Sinkholes are large, natural occurrences that can be hazardous, problematic, and costly. In some cases, they can even be life-threatening. Let’s take a closer look at what causes sinkholes and how to spot the warning signs to prevent damage to your property’s foundation. 

What is a sinkhole?

A sinkhole is a sizable open groundmass that forms when the earth beneath a specific surface can no longer carry the weight of the structure or the land situated directly above it. As a result, the land or structure in question collapses into the ground and creates a sinkhole. 

How do sinkholes form?

Arguably, the most prominent and direct cause is continual, seeping rainwater collecting beneath the earth’s surface. As rainwater accumulates, impacted soil contains carbon dioxide, which leads to decay. This decay sets off a chain of events resulting in cracking and spacing below ground. Ultimately, this damage can grow so pronounced that sinkholes form. If a sinkhole begins to form on your property, it can damage your foundation.

Warning Signs that a Sinkhole Is Forming

In certain instances, sinkholes might develop without warning. However, some offer warning signs for property owners to look out for. This includes ground settling, cracks in your foundation, driveway, or sidewalk, doors jamming, windows sticking, and vegetation stress.

Sinkholes are common in Middle Tennessee because a majority of the ground beneath the surface is made of limestone. Some areas of Middle Tennessee also have deep caverns and caves that run below the surface making these areas more susceptible to sinkholes. 

Types of Sinkholes

There are several types of sinkholes, including dissolution sinkholes, cover-subsidence sinkholes, and cover-collapse sinkholes.


Rock and soil immediately below the earth’s surface are composed of materials like limestone and dolomite. When excessive or persistent rainwater penetrates the ground, these materials gradually erode. As this process continues, the impacted earth grows weaker. Eventually, sinkhole formation begins.


These occur in areas where the material immediately beneath the earth’s surface contains sand. Granular sediments like sand drop into open spaces further below ground. Eventually, this results in a gradual erosion of the surrounding environment until sinkhole formation takes hold.


Cover-collapse events typically attribute to ground surfaces containing appreciable concentrations of clay. Water damage leading to ground erosion causes the clay to arch, which places significant pressure on the adjacent earth and potential collapse. In many cases, these sinkholes develop the quickest and cause the most catastrophic damage.

Potential Dangers 

Sinkholes, regardless of how small or seemingly insignificant, should never be taken lightly. Even minor occurrences can cause significant damage and lessen a property’s aesthetic value. However, moderate to substantial events can lead to severe events, including building collapses, floods, fires, and sewage leaks.

Preventing Foundation Damage

Sinkholes situated in sensitive or potentially dangerous areas, such as near pipes, water or sewer lines, or underground wells can damage your property’s foundation. If a sinkhole has impacted your foundation, our trained professionals can thoroughly evaluate the situation and provide you with the best solutions. 

Let Ground Up Foundation Repair Help You 

If your property has developed a sinkhole or is displaying the warning signs, please contact us before encountering significant foundation damage. Our experienced team of contracting professionals can provide a thorough evaluation and suggestions on the best solutions. To learn more about how we can help you, please contact Ground Up Foundation Repair. 

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