Foundation damage can result from several factors including under slab plumbing leaks, variations in moisture in the soil surrounding our foundation, poor landscaping patterns that affect water flow around our homes, and other similar causes. The consistent element in these factors is moisture control, which can be greatly impacted by large trees on your property. Many homeowners assume that the root structures of the trees are “growing into” the foundation and causing the damage. However, the real cause is what the tree roots are “looking for” and the result of that.
In a quest for water, many trees will soak up unusual amounts of water from the soil on which our homes rest, most often near the perimeter of the home. Trees with particularly extensive root systems can be the most damaging if growing too near the home itself. When the moisture levels are depleted on one side of the home but not on the other, the foundation’s soil shrinks up in uneven patterns and this can lead to foundation damage. Trees of this type – Live Oak, Red Oak, Arizona Ash, and Chinese Tallow – should not be placed near the perimeter of your home if at all possible. The best guideline is to place trees of this type no closer to the home than the approximate height of the mature tree. This will allow for the root systems to spread out naturally, taking moisture from other areas of your soil, rather than from the soil underneath your foundation.
But what if you already have a tree of this type fairly close to your home’s foundation? Will a root barricade save your foundation from damage? Yes and No. The best solution is to remove the tree before damage can occur. In some cases, trees can be relocated on your property, but sacrificing the tree is a small cost if it saves your foundation from damage.
However, if the tree(s) cannot be removed, root barricades can offer some benefit. A specialized Plexiglas shield, or barricade, made from overlapping sheets of plastic can be inserted into the soil approximately 3-5’ from the foundation of your home. This shield will be pushed approximately 30” down into the soil. By creating this barricade in front of your foundation where the tree is located, the root system will be forced to find water from other areas of your soil.
A root barricade will not fix the problem if damage to your foundation has already occurred. It will only hamper further damage, but exterior damage may already have been done. Because the moisture levels of the foundation’s soil can be affected by a continually growing tree, it’s likely that only interior damage will be prevented by installing a root barricade. Exterior damage can still occur if the homeowner is not diligently monitoring overall foundation moisture levels. Doing that is the only way to actively protect your home from foundation damage.
Dawson Foundation Repair services homes and commercial businesses all over Texas including Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and other smaller cities. If you have questions about tree roots that might be damaging your foundation, or you know that you have existing foundation problems, we are here to provide you with a professional opinion, and if necessary, a proven, time-tested, and permanent house leveling solution.