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Repairing Sinkholes Around Stormwater Drains

No matter where a sinkhole happens, bad things can occur. However, when sinkholes occur around stormwater drains, it can cause big problems. Unfortunately, the areas around stormwater drains are prime locations for sinkholes to occur. All the water from rain, runoff, leaks, and other sources gathers at the drain, saturating the surrounding soil. 

A sinkhole created by a stormwater drain

What Causes Sinkholes

Sinkholes are caused when the surrounding soil becomes oversaturated and the earth collapses. This can occur around stormwater drains when there are leaks in the pipe or culvert. The leaks can happen when the structure begins to deteriorate. The material that is used to seal the pipes can weaken, allowing stormwater to enter the surrounding soil. This material that seals the joints is called parging. If a stormwater drain isn’t closely monitored, the leak can start small and can cause damage for a while before it is noticed. Old or deteriorating joints aren’t the only way that a drain can begin to leak. The soil around the stormwater drain can settle, causing a problem. If the earth around the drain sinks, the pipe can shift, breaking joints or causing the drain to crack. 

A sinkhole can quickly develop or it can take a long amount of time, depending on a variety of variables. The amount of water that flows through the pipe is the biggest factor, but the number, size, and location of the leaks also play a role. Large holes or cracks could appear in a drain, but they could go undetected until a large amount of water flows through and leaks into the surrounding soil.

Repairing Leaks in Stormwater Drains

Just like there are a variety of causes for sinkholes around drains, there are a variety of solutions for repairing the links. A quick fix is to just fill the sinkhole with dirt, however, this doesn’t do anything about the cause of the sinkhole. The dirt will fill up the hole for a while, but the leak will eventually erode the soil and the sinkhole will reoccur. 

Another ineffective repair method is to cover the joint with hydraulic cement. This also is a temporary fix. The water that initially removed the parging will probably remove the new joint seal and you’ll be back where you started. This repair may last for a while, but changes in temperatures and rainfall amounts can cause the joints to weaken and old leaks may happen, along with new leaks.

Now that we’ve covered what NOT to do, here’s how you should repair your stormwater drain. The best way is to use polyurethane foam to seal the leaks and joints, then fill in the sinkhole. The foam can do both tasks at the same time. When injecting the foam, the polyurethane enters the cracks, sealing them. The foam is hydrophobic, so it won’t erode or dissolve. This will last a lot longer than other methods of sinkhole repair. 

Additionally, the foam will compress the loose soil, compacting it and making it stronger. Making the soil more stable will help prevent sinkholes from happening again. The curing time is around 15 minutes, so the repair can take effect quickly. 

Contact Airlift Concrete Experts for Sinkhole Repair

If you are dealing with a sinkhole in or around a stormwater drain or elsewhere on your property, contact Airlift Concrete Experts today. We’ll inspect the situation and give you a free estimate of the solution. We look forward to making your property safe and stable.