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simileigh 02-01-2012 10:40 PM

Unbelieveable - HUGE Hole Appears in Back Yard!
Today we had our oil-heated steam boiler converted to gas. In addition, a crew came in to remove the oil tank. These events most likely have nothing to do with the title of this thread. However, when leaving tonight, one of the men on the crew showed me where he had stepped on the grass in our back yard, and discovered a hole underneath, appr 6 feet deep and 6 feet wide!

We are still in shock about this, now three hours later. First, thank God no one fell in there and was hurt. We have walked (and mowed) over this area almost every day for seven years!

What could this possibly be?? As this was just discovered tonight, we have have only been able to observe it in the dark with a flashlight. Looks like a pipe lead into this 'thing', maybe 8" in diameter. The hole is definitely round, and is located about 10 feet from the back of the house. House was built in 1931.

Not sure what to do... maybe call the town?

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

joecaption 02-01-2012 11:02 PM

Is this in the city or the country? Sounds like the size of a septic tank or an old oil tank. (more liklly a septic tank) the pipe should be 4" not 8 if it's a septic.

oh'mike 02-02-2012 05:47 AM

That sounds like a cistern--Placement is typical---

Often used to catch and store rain water---

Any old plumber can see if the system will affect your current plumbing--

Likely the lid collapsed---You may be able to simply fill it in with sand---but see if it is still hooked into the house first.

Post a picture if it is safe to take one---we need to see inside for a pipe-

user1007 02-02-2012 09:53 AM

Cistern would be my first guess too, especially given the size of the inlet. I have run across old farm cisterns in Central Illinois that pre-date the homes on the land by quite a bit. I guess new ones were common in rural areas into the 30s and even 40s? Your home might have been built with either an old one on the property or a new one.

Where are you located? You might want to update your profile so we know for future posts?

You may need a permit to deal with it. The EPA concern is what people use to fill them in that can then leach into the environment.

Gymschu 02-02-2012 10:09 AM

Definitely a cistern. Very common here in Eastern Ohio. Some homes had 2 or 3 of them in a yard for water collection. A lot of them are round, brick-lined structures. Like Sdsester said, be careful how you fill them in. Some people filled them in with construction debris, etc. and the hole comes back as the debris shifts and stuff rots. More than likely you will be able to fill with topsoil and plant grass.

concretemasonry 02-02-2012 10:28 AM

After you have determined what it is and there is no connection to the house, I would fill with sand since it is more stable in a confined area and does not settle like top soil or construction debris. Any way you cut it, you will need a small truckload and delivery is the major cost. Sand is almost self compacting and settles much quicker, especially if there is water present.


user1007 02-02-2012 10:35 AM

Make sure anything that might still feed into the cistern is disabled. See any old downspouts going into clay tile or pipe type things? Not sure why or where the water went? Bet you $2 it was trying to go into that old cistern.

cleveman 02-02-2012 11:21 AM

Where was John Smith when he had his visions and wrote them on his tablets? I would check into Mormon history a bit and search that hole. You may have found the resting place of those tablets.

simileigh 02-02-2012 12:01 PM

The Hole in My Yard.....
Thanks to all who have responded so far!

If this thing is a cistern, there is now no visible evidence near the gutter areas of such. All gutters are just the free flowing drip, drip onto the topsoil things. (I should have taken a pic of those).

With the dawn of a beautiful new day, the hole looks to be only maybe 3-4 feet wide and deep. I probably exaggerated the diameter of the pipe in there as well.

I am having the darndest time trying to upload pics to this forum. Apparently they are too big. Not sure how to shrink them to the 100 kb max. I tried creating a Picasa album and uploading from that url. No luck. So I'm attaching a link to that album here, and I'm hoping this works.

The pic with a yardstick: this capped pipe thing was in the wall right behind that oil tank that was taken out yesterday. On the same side of house as the hole in the ground.

Thanks again for all responses so far!

Location: Rochester, NY (Irondequoit)

no1hustler 02-02-2012 01:47 PM

Link doesn't work for me.

simileigh 02-02-2012 01:53 PM


Originally Posted by no1hustler (Post 842319)
Link doesn't work for me.

I'd like to hear if that link doesn't work for others.... it works when I click on it.

AllanJ 02-02-2012 02:06 PM

Can you tell what the sides of the hole are made of? Just dirt, or some man made material?

It could be a dry well.

Gymschu 02-02-2012 02:36 PM

Yeah, it doesn't look like a typical cistern to me. Alan may be on to something.......a drywell. In any event, once you really figure it out, you will have to fill it in. Sorry about suggesting topsoil to fill it will indeed settle. On the plus side, it appears to be far enough away from the foundation to not cause any problems with that.

elessar007 02-02-2012 02:40 PM

First guess would be cistern for storing water. However, the sides of the hole look awfully orange as from rust possibly indicating that a tank maybe there or was once there. This goes against what I have come across and heard from others about rainwater cisterns that date back to the 30s and 40s. They were usually brick and sanded mortar from what I recall. One thing that just occurred to me was why this may have just appeared. Perhaps the removal of the old oil tank enabled water that was in the hole to drain out and take the place of the old oil tank so quickly that it caused the surrounding soil, including the couple inches of topsoil and the grass, to destabilize much quicker than any previous loss of water like a prolonged drought. Not saying it is a good theory, just something that popped into my mind as I wrote the first part of my response.

simileigh 02-02-2012 05:51 PM


Originally Posted by AllanJ (Post 842336)
Can you tell what the sides of the hole are made of? Just dirt, or some man made material?

It could be a dry well.

Sides seem to be made of dirt....

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