When Tree Roots Attack!

Have you noticed foundation cracks, buckling sidewalks and/or damaged driveway concrete around your home? If you answer yes to any of these and you also have mature trees surrounding your abode, chances are the trees are the culprit. While trees are valuable for their wind and shade protection their root system can often cause serious damage to not only building foundations and concrete and asphalt pavement but plumbing systems as well.

Ever notice a fairly sizable tree toppled over due to strong winds generally didn’t have a substantial root ball? That’s because tree roots grow very slowly. But as they do grow they are constantly spreading out searching for water and nutrients and causing the surrounding soil to reposition. The Upstate’s hard packed red clay is very dense and compacts quickly and as the tree roots grow, causing the dirt to shift, any weight on top eventually will be compromised. Basically the tree roots themselves aren’t causing the actual damage, it’s the shifting and compacting soil that is the problem. That said, it is possible for smaller immature roots to penetrate some of the concrete or foundation cracks and crevasses, giving the impression that the actual root is to blame. If you’re noticing foundation, walkway or driveway cracks or buckling, have a certified arborist get involved before the damage gets worse.

Another concern for homeowners is when tree roots begin to encroach into a home’s plumbing and drainage system. Remember, tree roots are constantly searching for water, and unfortunately it only takes one small nutrient rich leak to attract thirsty roots. Older pipes with minuscule cracks or pipes with joint deterioration are a huge draw. Often the roots will begin to grow into the broken spaces, eventually blocking the pipes and causing sluggish drainage inside the home. When this occurs the pipes will have to professionally augered and repaired.

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