Some of the signs a sinkhole could be on your property

By Paul Mueller, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The series of sinkholes in the Bay area in recent days has a lot of people concerned that their property could be in danger. 

Many are wondering what they can do to prevent tragedy or damage from happening at their own homes.

In the meantime, state officials now say the unofficial start of the so-called sinkhole season has begun and that has put a lot of people on edge but there are ways to put your minds at ease.

On Tuesday, Hillsborough County officials inspected the second sinkhole that opened up late Monday afternoon and they say they will continue to monitor it.

The sinkhole measures 12 feet wide by 5 feet deep and is located a little more than a mile away from the sinkhole that claimed the life of Jeffrey Bush and forced crews on Tuesday to finish filling up the crater where the family’s home once stood.

Taylor Yarkosky, also known as “The Sinkhole Guy,” said this tragedy is putting the spotlight on a problem that often times goes unnoticed.

"It's creating a significant amount of awareness," said Yarkosky. He said since the tragedy late Thursday night, many people have asked him if their homes could be in danger.

He has advised them to look for cracks in the walls, the garage, in the pool, and also on tiles.

"Especially if you see them in many areas and they'll gradually get a little bigger and bigger,” said Yarkosky. “They'll start like hairline and continue to get a little bigger."

He also said to pay close attention to the yard because that's where you can get a very good idea that trouble could be brewing.

"Unless you see some depression or, you know, dips, things in your yard, sometimes things will open up,” said Yarkosky. “That's the only way you'd be able to tell visibly."

Elizbaeth Fleites lives across the street from the second sinkhole. She just bought her home six months ago.

"You have to wonder is the ground going to open up anywhere else around here,” said Elizabeth Fleites.  “Is it going to happen on this property? Is it going to happen on the other street?"

Even without sinkhole insurance, she said she's done everything she can to make sure her house is safe.

"Basically, what I do,” Fleitis says, “is check around the house to see if there are any cracks around, you know, any unleveling of the house, on the floors."

And with a local property analysis company reporting 15,000 sinkholes in Florida, many of them, they say in the Bay area, Taylor said homeowners are now more than ever rushing to get their properties inspected.

'This is not something that should be taken lightly,’ Taylor said.  “Take a moment.  Walk around your house.  Look at your insurance policy."

Another tip from Yarkosky? He said to keep an eye out in your neighborhood that if any kind of sinkhole repair is going on, you should take that seriously.

If you do notice anything that looks out of the ordinary, he suggests calling your insurance company right away.

An engineer will come out to test the soil to see if there is a problem.