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Repair a Sinking Hole in Your Yard

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Debbie in North Carolina, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    DEBBIE: I got a house about four years ago, here in North Carolina. It was built in the late 1950s, I think. And at the time, I didn’t notice it but a hole is developing in the side yard. And it’s a deep enough hole …

    TOM: A hole?

    DEBBIE: A hole in the yard. And it’s a deep enough hole that I have a seven-year-old granddaughter and they were out playing and one of her feet fell down in it and she went in it up to her hip.

    TOM and LESLIE: Wow.

    TOM: Hmm.

    DEBBIE: Yeah, and I’m a little concerned and yet I don’t know who to call or what it might be. I don’t know if it’s perhaps a where a tree was there previously and where they took it out, you know it’s just an indentation from the root ball or – we don’t use oil heat in the south very much but I wondered if perhaps since it’s an older house maybe there had been an underground oil tank and has a heat …

    TOM: Oh, there’s lots of possibilities. You know, in our house we found an abandoned septic tank smack dab under the kids’ swing set, believe it or not. (chuckling)

    DEBBIE: Oh.

    TOM: And I didn’t get any father of the year awards for that …

    LESLIE: Oh.

    TOM: … but at least we found it. It was a very old house and obviously we had no idea where it is. So it’s impossible for us to say what’s under there but, you know, possibilities might be the septic tank.

    DEBBIE: OK.

    TOM: It could be some organic debris. It could be an old well. I mean it could be very dangerous. And so you need to get that excavated and figure out what’s going on there.

    LESLIE: Would, Tom, a local call-before-you-dig company – you know, one of the local services that – you know, in my area it’s 311. You know, there’s a lot of different services across the country. If you look up your local zip code and call before you dig, say on a Google search, they can find, you know, where all your utility lines are; anything that’s underground that’s been documented throughout the history of your home, they come out and mark it out on the ground. They might be able to tell you if there was, in fact, something there.

    DEBBIE: OK.

    TOM: Well, if you call that number they come out for a mark-out and certainly that’s something that you have to do before you do any major excavation. But I think you’re going to have to – I would start with a landscaper and let him dig that area out and see what they find.

    DEBBIE: OK.

    TOM: If it just turns out that it’s loose soil or maybe they expose some decayed tree roots or something like that, then you can pack it in there and build it back up again.

    DEBBIE: OK. Great. Well, I just didn’t know where to start or who to call.

    TOM: Yep.

    DEBBIE: I didn’t know what to do about it.

    TOM: You’ve got to do a little exploratory surgery with that space but, gosh, you’ve got to get on that right away because that could be very dangerous.

    DEBBIE: Yeah, yeah. It really could. I was just very grateful that she didn’t fall all the way in it; although, I really don’t know how deep it is. I took a broomstick and the broomstick would go all the way in it. But beyond that, I don’t know.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a little bit over your head, this project, because, you know …

    DEBBIE: OK.

    TOM: … if you’ve got a sinkhole forming there you just don’t know what the end of it is. So I would get maybe a landscaper and start right there.

    DEBBIE: OK, great. Thank you so much.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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