Sinkhole in West Knox Co. gets larger as crews try to save house

Sinkhole in West Knox Co. gets larger as crews try to stabilize home

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The hole was 13 feet deep and 25 feet wide on Friday. Now, workers say it's 18 feet deep and 40 feet wide. The hole was 13 feet deep and 25 feet wide on Friday. Now, workers say it's 18 feet deep and 40 feet wide.
The contractor says while the surface hole is getting larger, a hole way down in the bedrock is causing the surface depression. The contractor says while the surface hole is getting larger, a hole way down in the bedrock is causing the surface depression.
"This is just a temporary emergency fix so it prevents catastrophic failure to that corner of the house but it in no way fixes the sinkhole itself," said Clay Griffin, a geotechnical contractor. "This is just a temporary emergency fix so it prevents catastrophic failure to that corner of the house but it in no way fixes the sinkhole itself," said Clay Griffin, a geotechnical contractor.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A sinkhole that opened up last week near a home in the Gettysvue neighborhood of West Knox County is getting larger. Contractors were going to stabilize the hole, but the homeowner pulled the plug after having an issue with insurance.

The contractor says while the surface hole is getting larger, a hole way down in the bedrock is causing the surface depression. The contractor spent Wednesday filling in the surface hole to stabilize the house, but the bedrock hole is not being fixed. That is the cause of the problem.

The hole was 13 feet deep and 25 feet wide on Friday. Now, workers say it's 18 feet deep and 40 feet wide.

Clay Griffin is the president of Rembco, a geotechnical contractor who specializes in fixing sinkholes.

"We've treated hundreds of sinkholes in the Knoxville area," said Griffin.

The homeowner called Rembco last week to stabilize the hole, but then called off the work due to issues with insurance. Rembco has now been called back out to help.

"This is just a temporary emergency fix so it prevents catastrophic failure to that corner of the house but it in no way fixes the sinkhole itself," said Griffin.

To stabilize the corner of the home, grout will be poured in the surface depression, which won't affect the actual sinkhole in the bedrock.

"It wouldn't surprise me if that sinkhole in Gettysvue was in the neighborhood of 50 or 60 feet deep," said Griffin.

The larger the hole in the bedrock, the bigger the chance the soil at the surface has shifted.

"If it's 50 feet to bedrock you've probably got a 50 foot diameter hole at the surface and affected area," said Griffin.

As of now, Rembco has not been asked to actually fix the sinkhole, but if they were to fix the hole, they'd likely make a grid to drill down to the bedrock.

Griffin says they would then blanket the bedrock with concrete to cover the sink hole. They'd inject concrete all the way to the surface so the soil wouldn't settle, thus fixing the sinkhole.

Griffin says in East Tennessee, sinkholes are common because there are many caves and the bedrock is limestone, which erodes over time from water. He says if you have any water leaking into your yard, it's important to make the repair.

"A leaking pipe or a leaking hose bib outside it's best to get those taken care of because it can lead to some sinkhole activity," said Griffin.

Griffin says to stabilize the corner of the house they will fill the surface depression with grout. They should wrap up this work by Thursday afternoon. They emphasize this is only a temporary fix to save the house.

6 News spoke to an insurance agent who says a common mistake he sees is people thinking all policies are the same. If you're not sure, this sinkhole incident is a good reminder to check up when and where you're covered.

"Some companies will cover sinkhole collapse automatically in their policy form, however, there are quite a few that do not and that coverage has to be endorsed through the policy. It can range from anywhere for a $180,000 house for $52 dollars a year, to $832,000 house is $205 a year," said Bill Oldham with Oldham Insurance.

According to Griffin, if you are not insured the cost of repairing a sinkhole can easily set a homeowner back $50,000 to $100,000.

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