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Trees and Roots

Trees next to your home may look beautiful and boost curb appeal, but they can also damage your home in many ways. With professional help, you can nip this problem in the bud.

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Have you always dreamed of having a nice home tucked in between large trees? If your dream came true, do not be surprised if your property gets damaged. Root systems tend to spread widely, so if you have any trees near your home’s perimeter, be sure that their root system has not spread beneath your home. The roots of your trees can also damage your neighbors’ properties as well if you are not careful. 

Tree roots are very strong and can put a lot of pressure on your foundation, exterior concrete surfaces, sewer system, and exterior drainage system. Let’s take a closer look at all the ways trees can damage your home. 

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Direct and Indirect Damage 

The damage tree roots can cause is immense. They can damage your home directly by causing cracks in your foundation, rupturing sewage lines, and more. However, this is not where the problems stop. A lot of secondary problems will show up as a result of initial damage. 

Of course, just because you have a tall tree near your home doesn’t mean it will damage your property. However, it is better to be preventative about this sort of thing than to wait for damage to occur. 

Here’s how large tree roots can directly harm your home. 

Foundation Damage 

If they become too large and spread beneath your house, tree roots can exert enough pressure on your foundation to cause cracks and deformation. Since a damaged foundation can compromise your home’s structural stability, this is probably the most serious problem tree roots can cause. In case you notice that your concrete floor has begun to heave or crack, contact local foundation experts as soon as possible. Ignoring this problem can allow it to spiral out of control and make repairs much more expensive. 

Damaged Sewage Lines 

As tree roots spread, they may reach your sewage line. If this happens, roots can break the pipes and cause the line to leak. If there are really bad odors in your yard and you have no idea where they are coming from, this may be the cause. A broken sewage line can also cause water to back up and spill into your home. Both of these results can make your home completely unsanitary. 

Burst Water Main Line 

Just like tree roots can burst your sewage lines, they can damage your main water line as well. When your drains start to leak they will either cause your toilet and your sinks to drain slowly, or your home will become a victim of a large flood. While the flood may seem like a bigger problem, keep in mind that you will notice standing water in your home much sooner than you realize that something is wrong with your sinks. In addition, plumbing leaks can slowly saturate the soil under your house, causing foundation movement. 

Basement Wall Damage 

Tree roots are sometimes unpredictable and, in some cases, instead of going under your home, they can wrap themselves around your basement walls. If the roots are weaker and smaller, they can cause cracks and deformation. If they are larger, they can even break into your basement. 

When you go down to your basement and see tree roots coming out of your walls, you don’t have to be a detective to determine what the cause of this problem is. Removing these roots can be tricky because one wrong move can cause the wall to collapse. 

Indirect Damage 

These issues are all very serious, some more than others. Those that will cause the most damage are ones that you won’t notice on time. For example, if your broken sewage line floods your home, you will immediately notice standing water in your house and take steps to repair the problem. On the other hand, foundation damage can be easily overlooked. By the time you notice that something is wrong, a whole array of other problems can occur. These issues can quickly spread throughout your house and impact your quality of life.  

Here are the most common ones. 

Mold and Mildew 

If the roots make cracks in your foundation floor or walls, they can let moisture into your home. Since mold thrives in dark and moist places, it will spread all over your basement. Although it won’t compromise your home’s structural integrity, it could affect your health and cause respiratory problems. While some types of mold are almost harmless, some are deadly, especially if you suffer from already existing respiratory issues. Other, less dangerous types can cause flu-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, headaches, dizziness, sneezing, coughing, and migraines. 

Bowing Walls 

If a tree root system pushes against your foundation walls it could bow them, therefore compromising your home’s structural stability. Cracks in the walls as well as increased humidity levels are often a sign of bowing walls. This type of damage is rather common, and you should regularly inspect your basement for it. If left unnoticed, this problem could quickly escalate, and make the walls collapse. 

Dampness 

If your foundation becomes damaged, water will start to seep through the walls and the concrete floor. It will make your basement damp, but the problems won’t stop there. You will quickly notice the increase in humidity levels throughout your entire home. Moisture presence in your home can lead to mold, rot, and make living in your house far less comfortable and healthy. 

Sagging Floors 

Do round objects in your home roll into the middle of the room? Are your floors bouncy and unlevel? If so, check your foundation. When tree roots cause structural damage, they also affect your home’s flooring, joists, and beams. 

Of course, springy floors do not have to be a result of tree root damage. They can also be caused by wood rot. This fungal growth can make your support beams fragile, which will reflect on your flooring. 

Preventing Tree Root Damage 

If you are planning to plant trees around your home, make sure they’re far from your home’s perimeter. Experts recommend planting large trees more than 20 feet away from the perimeter of the structure. This way the root system won’t manage to reach your foundation and cause damage. If, on the other hand, you are planning to plant shrubs, keep them at least five feet away from your home. 

However, if you are moving into a new home, there is a possibility that you already have large trees planted too close to your house. When this happens, there is not much you can do about this. Make sure your trees have enough water because if the soil around them is constantly dry, their root system will spread quicker and wider in search of water. 

You can also hire a professional who will inspect your trees, assess the situation, and determine which steps you should take to protect your home against any damage. 

Repairing Damage Caused by Invading Roots 

While sometimes damage caused by a spreading root system can be minor, in some cases the trees near your home can compromise its structural integrity. Repairing such a problem requires skills, experience, and a special set of tools and heavy machinery. This is why DIY repairs are not recommended. Furthermore, tree roots can spread in unpredictable ways, and locating the exact place where they have damaged your home or your water or sewage lines can be difficult. 

If you haven’t noticed damage caused by tree roots on time, secondary issues such as mold and rot growth, sagging floors, or bowing walls might be impacting your home. Detecting all of the problems caused by nearby trees can be hard for a non-professional. In addition, overlooking any of these issues can give them a chance to grow and cause further problems. 

Moreover, misdiagnosing any of these problems and opting for unviable solutions can put your safety and your home’s stability in danger. Therefore, instead of fixing things on your own, contact AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists and have them take a look. 

Professional contractors have the experience, tools, and skills to deal with structural problems caused by tree roots. Here are several ways your local experts can address those issues. 

Pier system: During a drought, roots can soak up all of the moisture from the soil, leaving it completely dry. When this happens, soil particles can shrink, causing gaps in the ground. As a result, your foundation will start to settle into those gaps. Foundation settlement is a serious problem that should be addressed right away. At AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists, we offer a permanent solution to foundation settlement. With our high-quality pier system, we can not only stabilize your home but also lift it toward its original position, closing gaps and eliminating trip hazards along the way. 

Wall anchors: If tree roots are pushing against your foundation walls causing them to bow, our team can solve this problem with wall anchors. These support systems will push the walls back into their original position, making sure they do not bow again. Our unique wall anchor system is made of galvanized steel, so you can rest assured that it won’t rust. Each anchor system comes with a lifetime warranty and each installation with its performance warranty. 

As you can see, fixing a problem caused by a spreading root system requires heavy machinery and special durable systems, not to mention skills to conduct a proper installation. Therefore, hiring a professional can be more affordable in the long run. 

Trees and Roots

FAQs

If you have bought a home with trees growing near its perimeter, you are probably worried that their root systems will damage your house. Luckily, there are some things you can do to prevent them from causing any harm to your property. In case there are already signs of tree root intrusion, you need to take immediate steps to remove those roots and fix your home. 

Keep Them Wet 

Trees that don’t get enough water spread their roots much faster than those that grow in moist soil. In search of water, a tree root system can end up underneath your home, causing damage to your foundation. To avert this problem, make sure that the trees planted around your home’s perimeter have enough water. If watering them regularly is something you don’t have time for, simply install a sprinkler system that will regularly provide your trees with water. 

If there are other plants around your trees such as small bushes, they are all competing for the same water. To eliminate the competition, consider removing those shrubs. This way you will slow down the growth of the root system and keep it away from your home. 

Eliminate the Tree 

When the root system is already very wide and is threatening to damage your home, your only choice is to remove it before your house gets seriously impaired. So, how can you know whether the root system of a nearby tree has gotten too close to your home? If there are tops of the roots showing up above the soil close to your home’s perimeter or you notice heaving or cracking in exterior concrete surfaces in your yard, you should consider getting rid of the tree. 

If you are dealing with large, tall trees, do not try to take them down on your own. This is a dangerous job and if you do not know what you are doing, you can end up seriously hurting yourself or someone else. In addition, digging out the roots is a task that requires special tools and machinery. In case the tree root system is still not threatening to damage your home but you are worried that this scenario is possible in the near future, remove the top of the tree immediately and leave the roots in the soil. This way, you won’t have to dig them out. 

Repairing problems when they show up is always much more time-efficient and affordable than fixing them when they escalate. In order to address the damage before issues become too severe, you need to keep your eyes open for common signs of damage. These will appear inside your home, as well as outside. Noticing them on time and immediately taking action can save you a lot of trouble. 

Interior Signs of Damage 

When you notice signs of damage in your home, you can be sure that the tree root system has already affected your foundation or your walls. The most obvious sign is seeing tree roots coming through your floor or walls. Of course, there are other, more subtle signs. 

Things like cracks in your foundation, pooling water in your basement, bad odors, bowing walls, unlevel floors, as well as pest infestation can alert you that your nearby trees are harming your home. Each of these problems can produce a whole array of other issues, which is why it is important to address them as quickly as possible. 

Exterior Problem Signs 

Since you spend more time in your house than in your yard, you will notice interior problem signs much faster. However, that doesn’t mean you should not keep your eyes open for the exterior problem signs as well. They are more subtle, but when you notice them you will be able to take action to prevent further damage. 

Inspect the concrete surfaces in your yard regularly, and see whether there are any changes. If you have a patio, a sidewalk, or a driveway next to your home, use it to determine the proximity of the roots to your home. If some parts begin to sink or heave, call a professional and let them take a look. They will be able to determine the cause of concrete damage and recommend suitable solutions. 

Call AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists for Professional Help 

If your home has been damaged by nearby trees, call your local contractor as soon as possible. Tree roots can lead to foundation damage and compromised structural stability, so do not hesitate to contact AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists. We can help restore your home’s stability and make it safe and healthy once again for you and your family. 

Our no-obligation inspection appointments are available across Birmingham, Chattanooga, Huntsville, Knoxville, Mobile, Montgomery, and Nashville.  

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