Trees and Tree Roots
Have you ever seen a concrete sidewalk slab lifted by a tree root? If you have, you can imagine the incredible force even a small root exerts as it moves through the soil searching for water and nutrients. While this force is strong, it isn’t typically strong enough to damage your home’s foundation directly — despite what some homeowners believe. Instead, tree roots can damage a home’s foundation by changing the soil that surrounds it.
Like us, trees, bushes and other vegetation require water to live. They take in this life-giving water via their root systems, absorbing it from the surrounding soil. This in turn means the soil loses moisture, which can cause it to shrink or densify. This changes its structural integrity and can affect your home’s foundation, causing settlement.
In addition to affecting moisture content, tree roots can change soil’s structure by the very action of moving through it. This motion — although it happens very slowly — can cause soils to compact as they’re pushed aside by expanding roots. During dry periods, roots can shrink, leaving voids that weaken the surrounding soil. In both cases, this can cause changes that may negatively affect the stability of your home’s foundation.