sinkhole!

While pulling weeds today my foot fell into a hole. I jumped back and poked around it finding it "hollow" underneath. I got the shovel and started digging, and found a void about 2 feet wide and 1 foot deep. There is no evidence of animal life in it, nor is there any debris.
1. How worried should I be? It is near the pillar supporting the post, about 3 feet away, and about 10 feet from the foundation.
2. Should I leave it open and "watch" it or should I panic and call an engineer or geologist or something?
The house is over 100 years old. There is no apparent drain pipe in that area, although I'm told the previous owner put some kind of exterior French drain around the house at some point. This is Baltimore, theoretically clay soil, although the soil in the hole is soft and sandy. It has been VERY rainy for the last 2 years.
EGADS! PANIC! HELP!
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I have had two like that because buried over tree trunks have decayed out. I packed dirt in, and expect to have to do it again in a couple years.
Naturally your problem could be entirely different, but it might be the same.
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toller wrote:

I once found a hidden hole in yard, most likely from a stump that rotted away. Our property was filled by landfill about 40 years ago (waterfront in Florida). We also had erosion problems along the seawall that created tunnels beneath the sod, which could have been a hazard if someone walked on one and it collapsed.
Your city building department or insurance company may be interested in taking a look.
One oddity I noticed during our seawall repairs was an area of clay soil. I've seen "clumps" of it that hang together along the beach where most of the soil is sand. When some new erosion problems appeared, the contractor tested drainage by running water onto the clay area, and the water drained laterally and out through the seawall about 20' away. Apparently the top of the clay was too compact and sloped toward the seawall, so the water drained off more rapidly than it could drain through the clay. This link is to an article that illustrates sinkholes rather nicely: http://www.mgs.md.gov/esic/fs/fs11.html
I lived in a neighborhood in Florida with major sinkhole disasters. Good time to find out whether your insurance covers them. 100 year old house? I'd be inclined not to panic.
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Dont worry now its probably a rotted away stump. Fill it in and wait a year.
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Be very careful about whom you call for assistance and by all means DO NOT call your insurance Co. You may call your insurance co. when the house falls in the hole. <grin> Take the advice of the previous posters and fill in the hole and see what happens in a few months. Remember if you make this a matter of public record you may not be able to sell your property in the future. If you feel the need for reassurance then call a private engineering firm to do an evaluation.
Good Luck

out.
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this
Glad you said dont call the insurance company. I did that once when a basement wall had to be replaced. They wanted to re-inspect the house to make sure it was still up to their standards. I had to submit pictures of the work and get my houme owners insurance approved all over again.
wil
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Wil wrote:

a
to
pictures of

Yes. Even if you're calling to ask a question about coverage, that contact is recorded, and can count against you when it comes time for the policy to be renewed. (Why would you be asking, if you didn't perceive a possible risk of loss, is the justification.)
If you have questions about your coverage, read your policy. If you don't understand what it says, consult someone other than your insurance agent or anyone else with the insurance company.
--
Warren H.

==========
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that once when

re-inspect the house

submit
over again.

coverage, that

comes time for

didn't
policy. If you

your insurance

gardener:
I"ve never had a problem talking to my insuran ce company and not identifying myself but having my policy in front of me. The last time I did that was when I was checking on my auto and home ins about foster chiled impacts. AFTER I'd found out it was OK, I wrote letters and made it official. Never had a problem with that or other such dealings in CA, Il, and now NY.
Pop
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clipped

OTOH, the insurance company MIGHT be interested in filling a hole before the house falls into it :o)
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French
clay
Since your house is 100 years old why not contact your county Historical Society to see what was on your property 100 years ago. Could be you have an old drainage pipe or culvert or ancient sewer line long since been abandoned that is still carrying water during high rain levels. Your library might be of some help in finding old pictures or old town/city maps of the area then. Or the county court house records. Even could be an old creek that has long since dried up, filled in or could have been the city dump.at what was the outskirts of town 100 years ago. If there was mining of some sort in the area that would be of concern..
Wil
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.> >

top
was
No doubt practicing for the next Pulitzer. Or maybe the next Michael Miller script. ;)
Wil
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When we lived in Atlanta area where there was lots of red clay, we had millions of chipmunks. They had dug holes all over our backyard. I remember digging a hole to put up a clothesline post - first one was okay; second hole - when I stepped on the shovel it went all the way down to the top of the shovel blade. I almost fell and hurt myself...the chipmunks had what amounted to an apartment house under there and it spread all the way to the house next door.
Here in FL if I found something like that I would be truly terrified. The sinkholes down here are serious business....whole different situation.
Dorothy
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"Dorot29701" wrote

The big question is: If the apartment met code, and had a manual J done.
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