How Foundation Damage Is Caused by Tree Roots

Tree roots can cause foundation damage – and often do – that threatens the structural integrity of your home. 

Tree roots can wreak havoc in a number of ways. Below, we explore some of these common problems and offer professional advice on how to prevent tree-related structure damage. 

How Foundation Damage Is Caused by Tree Roots

Tree Roots Can Grow Under the Foundation

Physical contact between trees and foundations is a common cause of structural damage.

Tree roots can extend outward into the soil more than three times the height of the tree. So, if you have any trees near your home, their roots are likely to be growing under or along foundation.

In many cases, pier-and-beam designs can handle root growth better than slab-on-grade designs, as they can more easily absorb the pressure. Trees that are larger and longer-lived pose more of a threat but any trees can grow in such a way as to cause damage to any home’s foundation.

Tree Roots Take Water from the Foundation Soil

Large trees can pull dozens of gallons of water per day from the soil that underlies your home.

Trees need water to survive so, if your area isn’t getting much precipitation, you will have to provide water in the form of a sprinkler system or manual watering. Unless you give them regular watering, the roots will seek out moisture in the soil, pulling it from under the structure. Over time, the dry, underlying soils compact, resulting in settlement and foundation damage.

Decaying Tree Roots Can Cause Foundation Damage

Even dead trees and trees that have been removed can also pose a problem.

This happens when the root systems of dead trees rot within the soil. And, with removed trees, the roots are left behind. In either case, as the roots decay, air spaces are created in their place. The soil then shifts to fill the voids, and the foundation settles and becomes damaged.

How to Prevent Foundation Damage from Tree Roots

Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent tree-related foundation damage.

Avoid planting new trees too close to your house. For trees already in place, you can have the roots trimmed or install root barriers. Removal isn’t always the right answer, as the resulting soil changes may have a long-term effect on foundation stability.

In addition, make sure you give your trees enough water. That way, their roots won’t go in search of moisture in the soil beneath your home. Don’t overdo the watering, however, as too much water could also damage your foundation and harm the tree.

If you suspect you may have tree-related foundation damage, it’s imperative that you have it evaluated as soon as possible. The professional foundation settlement contractors at Atlas Piers, a trusted industry leader for over 25 years, can thoroughly evaluate your property and determine if trees have compromised the structural integrity of your home foundation.

Atlas Piers offers complimentary, hassle-free inspection and repair estimates to homeowners throughout Utah, Nevada and Wyoming. To schedule your foundation damage consultation, contact us today. 

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