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ROOTS ruining my foundation

An unreasonable neighbor has too many trees for a small city lot. My building with a brick foundation and ceramic pipes is from 1870. This area is a garage under a living area. It is 6' below grade. I noticed the brick has a foundation crack and a slight bulge. Additionally, my garage slab has cracks. These cracks point directly to a large healthy tree. A video revealed a very thick jungle is alive and well in my sewer lines. There is very little space left for drainage, It's only a matter of time for back-ups to begin. I was told if I replaced ALL these underground lines and prevented any water from leaking, the roots would stop encroaching. I HOPE this is true. It's a huge job. I have no rights in San Francisco, the trees do. I am even more worried about the bowing brick foundation. I was told the roots should be cut...however, there are MANY roots and 5' is deep, and why would they quit growing? Has anyone had a problem like this? I think of selling because it scares me to deal with it. It's a rental property and I'd rather not sell. Thank you

Re: ROOTS ruining my foundation

If you can't do anything to the trees or hold your neighbour responsible --- don't know what to say other than roots will migrate to where there is moisture.
That's why many times clay pipes are affected since they easily crack. When they do moisture is readily available underground and the roots will seek it. Once they get into the clay pipes the worse they become.

Unfortunately the only consolation I can offer ---- imagine the issues the neighbour must also have.

A. Spruce
Re: ROOTS ruining my foundation
windone wrote:

An unreasonable neighbor has too many trees for a small city lot.

windone wrote:

I have no rights in San Francisco, the trees do.

So which is it, an unreasonable neighbor or tree rights?

You may want to consult with a real estate/property attorney. If it is your neighbors negligence that is causing damage to your property, they are likely liable IF you are willing to take them to court over it.

Re: ROOTS ruining my foundation

I don't know how deep your sewer line is but on the two occasions when I had to trench yards in different houses for (1) burying electric service and (2) replacing a water line; I cut all sorts of tree roots with the little mine excavator. One tree later died but since the roots were on my property and the tree was on my neighbor's property there was little he could do. The death of the tree was accidental of course not intentional and I am not suggesting that you intentionally damage the trees in San Francisco. :rolleyes:

Re: ROOTS ruining my foundation

hello , i agree 100% with logdoc because i work everday with this type of problem. use the mini take out old pipes remove the roots with mini and put new pipes in, i think it will solve all problems:)

Timothy Miller
Re: ROOTS ruining my foundation

Howdy, I saw on the tv program Homes on Homes in LA, they used a bullet, metal cone, that has a cable attached and it is pulled threw the tree roots pipe dragging a new seamless pipe at same time. This method has no seams so no future root problems and no having to trench in new pipe.There is likely a company in the bay area that does this too.
The foundation bulge may not be related to tree roots at all. an observation hole dug next to the bulge will allow for and engineer and foundation contractor to bid its repair. The tree that is cracking the slab if it is right against it you can have the slab cut and repaired by the tree. Be sure to put in writing to your neighbor the concern about the tree and see if the neighbors home owners insurance will cover any additional damages as the tree roots have become "hostile" in growth.

Re: ROOTS ruining my foundation

Many, many years ago when I still lived at home with my parents, we lived in an older, established neighborhood with loads of trees. We were told by neighbors that at one time our small lot had held upwards of 27 trees, most of which had been removed by one or more of the owners prior to my parents buying this property.

Every year, like clockwork, the sewer would back up in the house with the accompanying messes, smells, etc. And every year, like clockwork, we would call our favorite plumbing company to come and "snake" out the drains. About the third or fourth year running an older gentleman came out instead of the run-of-the-mill younger workers that had been sent out previously. This older gentleman, of course, "snaked" the drains. But while his equipment was running, he offered this piece of advice ...

We had a water-softening system installed in the house, complete with the over-sized barrel to hold the salt pellets. The older gentleman plumber said to flush 1 to 2 cups of the salt pellets down the toilet CLOSEST to the where the sewer line leaves the house about once a month, especially during the spring and summer months. He said the salt pellets would distribute themselves throughout the sewer line between our house and the city's pipes in the street. Over time, he said, the salt pellets would disintegrate and "flavor" our waste water with high salt concentrations. With the salt water instead of fresh water flowing out of our house, the tree roots would "look" for another source of water and stay out of our sewer lines.

His bosses probably didn't like him very much because we never had to call them out to "snake" the drains again -- until my parents sold the house and moved out of state, that is. :) So, even if you don't have a water softening system, buy some salt pellets or rock salt. Flush 1 to 2 cups of salt down the toilet about once a month, and it should help the problem with roots in your sewer lines. It won't, however, fix any foundation damage that's already been done. For that, I would contact a lawyer and a good foundation repair company to see what can be done to fix that part of your problems.

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