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Can roots damage foundation?

I have a tree in my back yard whose roots over the past 30 years have spread tremendously. The tree roots are now growing above the ground and toward the house (which is on a slab foundation). Is it possible for those roots to damage the foundation? If so, should I have the tree taken down?

A. Spruce
Re: Can roots damage foundation?

Roots can absolutely damage foundations and slabs, and they do it with ease.

Whether you'll have a problem will depend on the type of tree, how big it is, and how close it is to the house. Some trees are worse than others when it comes to roots, Mulberries are horrendous.

You may not need to take the tree out, but certainly some selective pruning of the roots may be in order, as long as you don't cut them too close to the tree.

Basically, a tree's root system is the same diameter as it's canopy. Large roots tend to go down and out about 2/3 of the canopy, smaller "feeders" can extend beyond. Without more information about the tree and its location, we cannot advise any more specifically.

Re: Can roots damage foundation?

I certainly would be concerned if I were living in a warm climate where slab foundations without footings are allowed. Look how easily trees force heaving of sidewalks! However, areas that are subject to deep freezing will have deep footings, here I would not be too concerned. In the Mid-
West the footings are going down about 4 feet. Even here in Portland, Oregon, a very mild climate, we still have two foot deep footings.

However, if I saw that a sizeable root were going toward my foundation, I would probably dig down and sever that root. If she dies, she dies! Better the tree than my house!

Re: Can roots damage foundation?

Add my vote to the above.

I love trees. I even love high maintenance trees. But when a tree threatens my property, I want to be a step ahead of it.
Cut the tree down, if necessary, but make sure the home doesn't sustain damages in the process.

Check your local ordinances/restrictions regarding this issue before you fire up your chain saw, so you don't find yourself in hot water with your city.

Re: Can roots damage foundation?

Quote:(I certainly would be concerned if I were living in a warm climate where slab foundations without footings are allowed) Even in warm climates homes on slabs have footings. If they didn't they wouldn't be able to support the structure. They may not be as deep as required in colder climates but they do have footings.


Re: Can roots damage foundation?

Talking about footings: width and depth of footings vary because of various factors. It's not uncommon to see 4' deep footings around here. Some even require grade beams.

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