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Peachtree City, GA

Sinkholes and Trashpits in Georgia

Have you ever noticed that depression in the ground of your backyard? Is it somewhat rectangular in shape, about 10 feet wide and maybe 30 feet long? Well, that my friend, is a sinkhole. Most sinkholes and trashpits are holes that were dug in the ground by contractors and filled with inert debris like tree stumps, logs, and even construction garbage in some cases.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources prohibited the creation of these trashpits without permission in 1997:

Home builders in recent years have used inert landfills on individual home building lots as a means of disposal of the land clearing debris. This practice has resulted in numerous complaints from homeowners who discover the burial pits once the debris has decomposed, resulting in the formation of depressions. Under the August 20, 1997 Rule this practice will be prohibited unless the lot consists of several acres of land. Therefore, home builders will be required to use alternatives such as on-site grinding of the material for mulch, off-site disposal in an inert landfill or construction and demolition waste landfill, or off-site disposal at a wood recycling center."


Although the State Authority in Georgia finally addressed the matter in 1997, many counties had frowned on the practice as early as 1986. If you are unlucky enough to have a shed, patio, or even a concrete driveway over a trashpit, then you have a problem. There are two very different solutions to your problem. Lets just call them the cheap way and the expensive way.

There is only one way to fix the problem for sure and for good the first time, and that way is to completely dig out the debris that is buried and haul it away. Unless you hire an engineer to evaluate your pit, you have no way to know how much material will be removed until you get into it with an excavator. Then clean fill must be brought in to fill in the hole. The new fill would have to be compacted in the proper way to insure that any loose dirt won't settle. This method, while effective, is usually cost prohibitive. Excavators, dumpsters, and dump trucks of clean fill can add up fast, exceeding $5000 or more in many cases.

Lets assume you have a driveway that is poured across your sinkhole and a twenty foot concrete section is collapsing into the pit. If your home is twenty years old or older , there is at least some chance that the sinkhole is done or close to being done settling. The driveway section can be removed and the hole can be compacted, and good clean fill can then be installed and compacted. The new driveway is then formed and rebar is installed with dowels into the existing concrete. Just before the concrete pour, piers are installed periodically throughout the pour area to support the new driveway where the sub-grade is likely more firm. Most concrete repairs done this way can last a lifetime, but you should remember that unless the pit is completely dug up there is always a chance that the settlement can continue. This economical repair can be done two or three times with the money you would spend to dig out the pit and bring in new, clean fill.