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. 

Foundation Repair and Buying a New Home: Do Your Homework

Many home sellers handle foundation repair before putting their property on the market because they know a problem-free home will bring a better price in a shorter timeframe. However, some sellers do not take this proactive stance.

Buying a house after any necessary foundation work has been done can save you time, money and major headaches later on. That’s why you should never take a home seller’s word on these critical repairs.

foundation repair new home

Before signing on the dotted line, protect your interests by making sure you have copies of all important documents related to foundation repair work.

Original Foundation Repair Agreement

Request a copy of the original repair agreement, as this document gives you the details about the work that was done. Read the terms and conditions carefully, making sure that any warranties or guarantees are transferable. 

Don’t forget to check into the foundation contractor who completed the work. Are they still in business? Do they have a good reputation for quality service? 

Scale Drawing of the Foundation Repair Work

Along with the repair agreement, foundation contractors provide homeowners with scale drawings that illustrate the scope of their repair work. Get a copy of this drawing, as it shows exactly where the piers and footings were repaired. This is essential information because it defines what’s covered under the warranty.

Foundation Repair Warranty

Speaking of the warranty, you need to have a copy – and you must make sure the company is still around to honor it. Read the fine print and get a solid understanding of the coverage terms as well as the causes for warrantable action to be taken. 

Don’t hesitate to contact the company if you have questions about the foundation warranty.

Third-Party Engineering Report for the Foundation Repairs

A third-party engineering report documents the repair work and verifies that everything was completed according to code. 

This important report should also show the final home elevation levels after repair, which you may need for future property improvements. You can also opt to hire your own structural engineer during the home inspection process to confirm that any foundation settlement has been properly repaired.

If you can’t get all of these documents, or if are you unsure about the quality of the repairs, you may want to reconsider your home purchase, as you could have more difficulty with future repair work. And you’ll be in for a bigger hassle – or even potential legal liability – if you decide to sell the property in the future.

For more information, or to schedule your own professional foundation inspection, contact Atlas Piers. Trusted by homeowners and businesses throughout Utah, Nevada and Wyoming for over 25 years, the Atlas Piers team can answer all of your questions about foundation repair.  

How Much Does Foundation Repair Cost?

Everyone who needs foundation repair wants to know about cost. And that’s not surprising, since structural issues have a reputation for being expensive to correct.

However, as any responsible contractor will tell you, estimating the price to fix a damaged or settled foundation is impossible without an in-person inspection. Many variables play a part in determining the scope of any repair project, so cost cannot be predicted.

Foundation Repair Cost

The good news? Not all repairs involve major reconstructions. So, the cost to fix your foundation may not be as high as you fear. 

Factors that Affect the Cost for Foundation Repair

The price you pay for foundation repair will depend upon your particular situation. 

Generally speaking, the smaller the structural problem and the easier it is to access the settled portion of the foundation, the less you’ll be charged for repair work. But, several other factors can also impact the overall cost.

The type of foundation you have and the level of instability of the soil underneath can affect the price. And, if hidden obstacles are present – such as tree roots or deep footings – the cost will be higher. 

In addition to the complexity of fixing the problem, other variables can add to the cost. For example, many projects require building permits, evaluations from structural engineers and soil reports from geotechnical engineers. And, if you live in an earthquake-prone area, you can expect to pay more for structural repair work. 

What Other Homeowners Pay for Foundation Repair

Still want to know the average cost to repair a foundation? 

According to, an online home improvement marketplace, the national average cost for foundation repair is $3,963.

But, this alone doesn’t paint a clear picture of what homeowners actually pay for repair work – there’s quite a wide price range.

On the low end, fixing a small crack might cost just $500. For a home that needs major foundation work, the repair can cost upwards of $11,000 – and some projects can run much more than that.

Foundation Repair Financing Options

Worried about how you’ll pay for foundation repair? You don’t have to have cash in the bank – several financing options are available.

A home equity loan or line of credit (HELOC) may be a good option if you’re in a position to borrow against the equity of your home. If not, depending upon your circumstances, you may be able to get a government loan through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or the Rural Housing Service (RHS).

You could also consider getting a personal loan from your bank or credit union. Or, split the repair work into equal payments by using a new unsecured, interest-free credit card. Many foundation contractors also offer attractive financing options.

At Atlas Piers, we understand that the cost of fixing your foundation problems is a big concern. Rest assured, we strive to provide high-quality work and exceptional service at an affordable price. To schedule a free inspection and estimate for foundation repair in Utah, Nevada or Wyoming, contact us today.

Why You Need a Plumbing Test After Foundation Repair

Foundation repair is no simple process. In fact, from start to finish, the project can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

One important step in the repair process isn’t actually handled by the foundation contractor, but by a professional plumber instead. After the piers are installed and the structure of the home is stabilized, a special plumbing test is typically required.

plumbing test

Here are the important reasons why a plumbing test necessary after foundation repair and some general information on how the process works. 

Foundation Repair Can Create Plumbing Problems

Your home’s plumbing system is hidden in the walls and ceilings – and within the foundation. Many of the pipes that carry water and sewage are buried deep underground.

As you can imagine, shifting the foundation can cause the plumbing to shift. In some cases, the pipes can become damaged when the home is lifted and stabilized.

And, of course, problems with the plumbing could be the reason you needed foundation repair in the first place. Plumbing leaks are a major cause of foundation damage, as water infiltration can create changes in the soil.

Regardless, to ensure all your pipes are in good shape after foundation repair, you’ll need to get a hydrostatic plumbing test.

How the Hydrostatic Plumbing Test Works

Essentially, this test puts your plumbing system under tremendous pressure in order to detect foundation leaks.

To perform the test, an inflatable ball is inserted into the main sewer line, either through an outside cleanout (a pipe that sticks up from the ground, located close to the home) or through the drain system under a first-floor toilet. Then, the system is filled with water, which may be dyed to aid in leak detection.

The water level is then carefully monitored for 20 minutes. If the level drops, a leak exists. 

What if the Test Reveals a Leak?

If the test indicates that you have a leak, you’ll need to have the plumbing damage repaired. 

Fixing the leak will help preserve the foundation and protect your home’s stability for years to come. But, that’s not the only reason to schedule plumbing line repairs.

Leaks can lead to very costly foundation damage in the future. So, contractors who warranty their work usually require homeowners to repair leaks. If you fail to get a plumbing test, or if you ignore the results, you may not have a valid warranty. 

Atlas Piers, an industry leader for over 25 years, offers free inspections and estimates to homeowners throughout Utah, Nevada and Wyoming. For professional advice and assistance with all of your foundation repair needs, contact us today.  

5 Ways Homeowners Create Foundation Problems

Most foundation problems are the result of changes in soil conditions. Throughout the year, soil expands and contracts due to fluctuations in moisture and temperature levels. Over time, this constant shifting and settlement in the soil eventually lead to foundation failure.  

Foundation Problems

Mother Nature and errors made in the construction process are typically to blame for problems with house foundations. But, in some cases, the homeowners themselves contribute to the problem.

No. 1: Planting too Close to the Foundation

Flowers and shrubs certainly look beautiful growing around your home, but planting too close to the foundation can cause problems.

When plants are placed too close to the house, the roots may grow into and damage the home’s structural supports. Installing root barriers can help prevent this from happening, but experts recommend keeping plants a safe distance from the foundation.  

No. 2: Overwatering the Lawn

The unpredictable weather in the Intermountain West leads many homeowners to overwater their lawns. Overwatering puts pressure on the foundation walls, which can cause them to swell and crack.

Lawns don’t need as much water as you might think. As a rule of thumb, you should aim for about one inch per week, spread over three or four days. Using an automatic sprinkler system with a rainfall sensor makes proper watering easier. Or, you could just pay attention the grass. 

When footprints remain after walking on the lawn, it’s time to water. 

No. 3: Poor Water Drainage

Poorly graded yards and inadequate drainage systems are frequently to blame for foundation problems.

If the land around your home doesn’t slope down and away, rainwater and melting snow can seep in near the structural supports and cause the soil to settle. Damaged or improperly installed gutters and downspouts can also direct water into the soil and create foundation problems.

No. 4: Improper Swimming Pool Installation

In-ground swimming pools are a popular property upgrade, but some homeowners fail to consider the foundation when planning their pool installation.

During installation, your pool contractor will take appropriate care to ensure that the pool is watertight. However, because concrete is porous, pool shells can leak. Or, in time, the pool can develop tiny cracks, due to soil settlement. 

If your pool is too close to the house, these leaks may make foundation problems inevitable.

No. 5: Remodeling Projects

Homeowners who are planning interior remodeling projects don’t always think about structural support. But big changes to the house design can lead to foundation problems.

Removing supporting (load-bearing) walls can shift the load of the house and put extra pressure on certain parts of the foundation. Adding a room addition, porch or patio can have the same effect. Before starting any major remodeling project, consult with a foundation contractor or structural engineer to evaluate the potential change in structural load.

Do you think you may have foundation settlement? It’s better to find out now, because correction will be easier and more cost-effective than it will be if you wait until the damage worsens. The professionals at Atlas Piers offer free inspections to homeowners throughout Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. For professional advice and assistance with foundation problems, contact us today.

Top 10 Warning Signs of Foundation Damage

If you have foundation damage, professional repair is the only way to keep the problems from worsening. If you wait too long, your home could develop serious structural issues or even become uninhabitable.

foundation damage

But how do you know if your foundation needs to be repaired? Keep an eye out for the warning signs, and you may catch the problem before it goes too far.

No. 1: Cracks and Bows in Walls

Vertical or horizontal cracks in concrete walls or drywall may indicate that your home has foundation problems. The same goes for bowed or bucking walls, a common issue in basements.

No. 2: Cracks in the Floor

Cracks running through your concrete floors are a big red flag for foundation problems. Garages, basements and porches often crack as a result of settlement pressure.

No. 3: Cracks in Foundation Blocks or Bricks

When settlement occurs, foundation blocks or bricks frequently develop cracks. The bricks can crack vertically, horizontally or in a stair-step pattern.

No. 4: Sagging or Uneven Floors

Do certain areas of your floor creak? Settlement can also cause floors to sag or become uneven. The slope isn’t always easily visible, but a squeaky floor is hard to miss.

No. 5: Doors and Windows that Stick

Sometimes, humidity can cause doors and windows to swell, causing problems with opening and closing. In many cases, however, foundation settlement is the real culprit.

No. 6: Gaps around Door and Window Frames

Even if your doors and windows don’t stick, you could still have foundation problems if you see separations around their frames. Settlement often creates gaps, mainly on the exterior frame supports.

No. 7: Displaced Crown Molding

If the crown molding near your ceiling has started to pull away, foundation settlement could be the reason. Instability in your home’s structural support can cause separation at the corners or cracks in the wood.

No. 8: Cabinets that Separate from the Wall

Do any of your kitchen, bathroom or laundry room cabinets or countertops seem to be pulling away from the wall? Settlement makes walls and floors uneven, which can affect your installed cabinets and counters.

No. 9: Moisture in the Basement or Crawl Space

Foundation cracks can allow moisture to seep inside. If your basement or crawl space is wet, smells musty or has mold growth, settlement may have occurred.

No. 10: A Cracked Chimney

Your chimney is far from the foundation, but settlement in the soil can make it unstable. As a result, the chimney bricks can crack. Or, the entire chimney can develop a noticeable lean.

What to Do If You Find Evidence of Foundation Damage

Foundation problems happen over time, and many warning signs appear just as gradually. So, you may not even notice much of a problem unless you really look. Foundation settlement contractors recommend that you inspect your home inside and out several times each year. If your home is older, or if you have had problems in the past, an annual professional inspection is a great way to catch problems before they get out of hand.

If you suspect your home has settled – or if you’d like the peace of mind in knowing your foundation is structurally sound – schedule your professional consultation. Atlas Piers offers complimentary inspections and repair estimates to homeowners throughout Utah, Wyoming and Nevada. Solving foundation problems is our specialty, so contact us today.

What Causes Foundation Problems?

Foundation problems are a major cause of concern for many homeowners. No one wants to live in a house that isn’t structurally sound, yet repairs can be costly.

Doors and windows that stick or fail to close completely and cracks appearing on the inside or outside of your home are common warning signs of foundation damage. A leaning chimney, sagging front porch and bowed or sloped walls or floors could also indicate a problem.

foundation problems

But what causes these structural issues?

Foundation Problems are Soil Problems

In most cases, the foundation itself isn’t the source of your settlement problems. Though age or improper construction could play a part in some damage, a house foundation doesn’t just shift, settle or crack on its own.

The real culprit is the soil underneath the home.

Homes are not usually built on land with perfect soil conditions. Many houses throughout Utah, Nevada and Wyoming are built upon expansive soils, which can shrink and swell. As the soil volume changes, the foundation moves. This movement can eventually lead to cracks and other damage.

Foundation Problems are Caused by Water

The soil expands and contracts as a result of changes in moisture content.

Expansive soil contains a high percentage of clay, which absorbs water easily. When it rains or snows, the soil soaks up the water and swells, pushing upwards on the foundation. Then, as the moisture dries up, the soil shrinks back down and the foundation settles.

Drainage issues can also contribute to the problem. Damaged or misdirected downspouts and gutters can dump extra water into the soil closest to your home, oversaturating it and increasing the chance of damage. Having trees, shrubs and plants too close to the foundation can also cause a problem, especially if you overwater these plants.

Cracks and Identifying Foundation Problems

As we mentioned, homeowners with foundation damage often see cracks. Cracks can appear inside, on the walls near the doors, windows or ceiling. Or, the exterior concrete may develop cracking.

Cracks may point to the need for repair. However, contrary to popular belief, they don’t usually indicate the location of your structural problem.

Cracks are like hinges that appear at relief points of movement for the foundation. Shifting and settling in the soil under one part of the home often causes cracking to occur elsewhere.

To find out the source of your foundation problems, you’ll need to have a professional contractor perform an inspection. At the same time, you can request a repair estimate.

The professional team at Atlas Piers offers complimentary consultations to homeowners throughout Utah, Nevada and Wyoming. To learn more or to schedule an inspection for foundation problems, contact us today.

How to Prepare for Your Foundation Repair Project

When you schedule your foundation repair project, we take great care to explain what you expect when the crew arrives and begins the work. In most cases, we can complete our customers’ projects with little or no disruption to the household.

For the smoothest experience and the least amount of aggravation, we may request that you make a few preparations. Not only will this help the crew complete the job quickly and efficiently but it can also help protect your family and your home’s contents.

foundation repair

Prepare Your Yard for the Foundation Repair Project

Depending on the type of foundation work that you need, the grass, plants and bushes surrounding your home may have to be disturbed to reach the damaged areas. If you have plants and grass immediately adjacent to the foundation, removing or disturbing them may be unavoidable to ensure we have access to the perimeter of your home.

The best way to preserve any plants that you want to keep is to transplant them in advance of the work. We can point out exactly where any digging or disruption will take place, so you won’t have to guess which plants and shrubs are involved.

Rather than doing the work yourself, you could hire professional landscapers to handle the yard preparations. Many homeowners combine foundation repair with a landscaping update. This allows them to improve their home’s curb appeal and value, and to get the disruptions all out of the way at one time.

Protect the Inside of Your Home During Foundation Repair

The heavy machinery used during the repair process can sometimes cause the floors and walls of your home to vibrate. If you prepare in advance for the vibration, you can avoid any potential damage.

Check your walls, cabinets and shelves for items that could fall and break, and pack them away in a safe spot until the repair job is finished. Remove artwork hanging on the wall and secure taller items that may be prone to toppling over.

Plan for the Disruptions of Foundation Repair

For safety reasons, some homeowners may need to temporarily relocate while their foundation damage repair work is completed. However, the majority of our customers are free to stay at home if they like.

But, for peace of mind, you and your family may prefer to leave the house. The repair process creates noise and vibrations, which can be disruptive to small children and pets.

You can take a day trip, head to the park, visit the library, see some friends or spend the afternoon shopping. Plan ahead, and you can have an enjoyable day out and about.

Most projects can be completed within a few hours, depending upon the number of piers that must be installed. However, if your foundation damage is extensive, the repairs could take more than one day. If yours is a larger project or the damage requires interior piers, our team may need more time to complete the work.

If that’s the case, you will know well in advance. And we are happy to schedule your project at your convenience, so you have plenty of time to prepare.

The foundation settlement experts at Atlas Piers offer complimentary consultations for homeowners throughout Nevada, Wyoming and Utah. Contact us today to schedule your foundation repair inspection and estimate.

Should You Repair Foundation Damage Before Selling Your Home?

Must you repair foundation damage before listing your house for sale? You don’t have to do these repairs, no, but doing so can be a wise investment that pays off at closing.

Real estate agents recommend that sellers make their home as appealing as possible before listing it for sale. Unfortunately, foundation settlement problems are highly off-putting to most potential buyers. Doing the repairs ahead of time can facilitate the selling process and protect your home’s foundation damage

State Laws Govern Foundation Damage Disclosure

Many states impose legal requirements that compel sellers to disclose material facts about their home’s condition. This means that, depending upon where you live, you may have to advise potential buyers of any foundation problems.

Nevada home sellers must complete a disclosure statement that lists all known material defects, including any foundation settling or damage that you are aware of.

Utah law only requires home sellers to disclose previous methamphetamine use, storage or production on the property. Although structural defects don’t legally have to be divulged, most brokerages require sellers to complete a property disclosure statement.

Wyoming homeowners are also not required by law to disclose defects; however, real estate brokers are legally required to reveal any adverse information they have regarding the property’s condition.

Regardless of your state’s laws, disclosing foundation problems is important because it protects you against future legal liability. Refusing to provide a seller’s disclosure statement will also raise a red flag to potential buyers, who may assume that you are hiding a problem.

Foundation Damage Scares Away Potential Buyers

When shopping for a house, buyers and their agents are always on the lookout for obvious problems, especially structural or foundation damage. Even if you don’t disclose your structural issues, most buyers will discover any settlement or damage during their home inspection.

Structural issues are red flags to home buyers, and most will avoid any house that requires foundation repair. Unless you fix the problem ahead of time, your pool of potential buyers will be significantly reduced and your listing may languish, unsold.

Your other option is to reduce the asking price of the home and advertise it for sale ‘as-is.” However, you will likely have to cut your selling price far below the cost of the actual repairs.

Many Lenders Refuse to Fund Homes with Foundation Damage

If you elect to reduce the asking price and sell your house as-is, you will further restrict the pool of potential buyers – especially those who plan to purchase with a home loan or mortgage.

If your prospective buyers aren’t prepared to pay cash, they may have problems completing the sale. Many traditional mortgage lenders are unable to fund properties with unrepaired structural issues.

Fortunately, mitigating your foundation damage does not have to be a high-priced nightmare. An experienced foundation repair contractor can complete the work and provide you with the documentation necessary to give both potential buyers and their lenders peace of mind.

Atlas Piers, trusted by homeowners throughout Utah, Nevada and Wyoming for over 26 years, can provide the expert repair you need to command top dollar for your property. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and estimate to repair your foundation damage.

Prevent Foundation Problems with These Landscaping Tips

Foundation problems can compromise the structural integrity of your home. In the Intermountain West, our unstable soil conditions increase this risk. Damage to your home’s support system can be corrected but the damage can become extensive – and expensive – before you know you have a problem. foundation problems

Fortunately, you can help prevent foundation damage by making a few changes in your landscaping. These tips can help you design your lawns and gardens to more effectively preserve your home’s structural support.

Grade Your Lot Properly to Avoid Foundation Problems

Is the lawn around your home completely flat? Or, worse, does it slope toward the house? You’re asking for foundation problems, if so, as any water runoff will settle at the location of your home’s structural support footings.

Grading the lot properly is essential to prevent drainage issues and protect your home from structural damage. Your lot should slope downward at least 6 inches over the first 10 feet of soil closest to the foundation.

If your slope is less, regrading the lawn will help you avoid any further foundation damage. You can tackle a grading project on your own or you can contact a local landscaping company or excavation contractor to handle it for you.

Don’t Install Plants Too Close to Your House Foundation

Do you have bushes, hedges, trees or flowers around the perimeter of your house? If so, it can lead to foundation problems unless you plan the landscaping correctly.

If you place plants too close to your home, their root systems can expand and grow beneath your foundation’s footings. Installing root barriers is one way to help avoid this problem. Or simply avoid planting anything immediately adjacent to the foundation.

Here’s a good landscaping rule of thumb to avoid foundation damage. Consider the mature width of your plants, and place them at least that far away from your home. If any branches or leaves touch the house – or could touch the house once they’ve reached maturity – the plants are too close.

Plan Concrete Features Carefully to Prevent Foundation Problems

Concrete sidewalks, driveways, patios and landscaping paths should be designed and built to direct water runoff away from your house. Otherwise, water can pond near the foundation.

It’s also wise to plan for balance when designing new concrete landscaping elements around your home. Placing a large expanse of concrete on one side of your house and heavily-watered garden beds on the other could create structural foundation problems, as the soils may settle differently in these locations.

When making any significant landscaping modifications around your home, consider your storm water and roof drainage management plan. An effective gutter system with properly placed downspouts can help you avoid the need for structural foundation repairs. It can also augment your sprinkler system, saving you money on the water bill.

Applying these tips around your home can save you the stress and expense of foundation repair. If it’s too late and you already have foundation settlement problems, we can help. Atlas Piers, serving homeowners throughout Nevada, Wyoming and Utah, can evaluate your home and provide a customized estimate for repairing your foundation problems. Contact us today to schedule your free inspection.