Large trees bring all kinds of benefits to their environment. They can be a home for small animals, they are protection from the harsh summer sun, and they bring an elegant boost in curb appeal. Unfortunately, trees are also among the greatest threats to a foundation and can be major headaches for Texas property owners.
Trees are, above all else, resilient. Southern live oaks, for example, may live for several hundred years, with crowns that extend as wide as 150 feet in some cases. Their root systems are complex and often invisible to those who don’t know how to find them. But, in truth, any tree can affect the foundation of your home or business if growing too close to it.
This post will cover the ways root systems impact a foundation and how you can adequately prevent and respond to these damages.
Typically, a root will grow away from a solid surface like a concrete slab – up and over, under, or around it. So, it’s not as though the root itself will punch a hole or crack by force into your slab. They can and often will, however, exploit preexisting holes or cracks and cause further damage.
When growing underneath your foundation, they can also add pressure to the concrete and potentially result in cracks. And they may even find their way to your plumbing system, causing pipes to shift or even growing into them.
Indirectly, roots team up with water to pool a more systematic threat to your property. Texas has a lot of expansive soils, or “shrink-and-swell” soils. They expand when moistened by rain or dew and then shrink when they become dry again. Many clays in Texas are even prone to extreme cracking, which can lead to groves in your property and subsequent erratic water drainage.
Where do roots come in? Roots take moisture away from the soil. This harms your foundation in a couple of different ways. If you don’t have a proper drainage system in place, for example, water can pool into the clay’s cracks and be destructive to any foundation type.
Another way water-hungry roots affect your foundation: slab deflection. When roots are straight up against a building or growing underneath it, and they take the moisture from the soil, they cause the land around the home to shrink. This could then cause the slab to sink or shift according to the direction of the soil’s influence.
Depending on your situation, there are several ways you can prevent root-related damage to your property’s foundation.
1. If you’re on the market for a home or commercial building, make sure you have a professional inspect the land for any problematic roots or foundation damage signs. They may suggest tree removal or other measures prior to purchase.
2. Maintaining healthy, well-balanced soil is another measure you can take, and that starts with a proactive approach to the vegetation on your land. You’ll also want to have your soil tested to see if the soil type fairs well with intermingled root systems. And take the time to research the development of the plant life; its needs and its nutrient demands.
3. Of course – water damage prevention. Since the primary issue related to root system damages is often water, it will help you to take steps to ensure water damage prevention measures are in place. This may include proper drainage and sloping systems and sump pump installations.
4. Routine evaluations are a necessity, especially for older buildings or properties with extensive vegetation. Call us biased, but the best way to prevent damage (from roots or other threats) is by scheduling regular foundation evaluations. Catching damage before it happens, or in the early stages, can make a world of difference and potentially save you thousands.
At Perma Pier, we’ve seen the full extent of damages caused by root systems and expansive soils. From Dallas to San Antonio and beyond, we provide Texas property owners with thorough foundation evaluations and repairs. Our experienced team includes expertly trained engineers who exercise modern technology in the testing and repair process to ensure a strong foundation for years to come.
Concerned about your foundation? Schedule your no-charge evaluation today.