Is Tree Removal an Option?
Besides not having to ever shovel snow in Houston, one of the other great things I like about Houston is all the trees in our area. They look great, add value to our property, and shade us from the summer sun. Trees and their root system can sometimes also have a negative effect on our home’s foundation. Trees can pull a large quantity of water from the soil through a process called ‘transpiration’. Large trees could pull 200 gallons of water a day! Now you probably do not have trees that large on your property or the property adjacent to yours but maybe you have 2 or 3 trees and combined they pull out 50 gallons of water a day.
Are you replacing those 50 gallons of water every day? What about normal evaporation of water from the soil? You have a hot, windy day that evaporation is going full force added with the water used by your trees and other plants on your property and your soil is drying out very quickly. We have very expansive soils in this part of southeast Texas which means that as the clays in the soil become wet, they rehydrate and the clays swell or expand. When the clays in the soil lose moisture, they contract or shrink. Between the evaporation and the transpiration, the soils around the perimeter of the house shrink and the perimeter of the home move lower.
This movement of the perimeter of the foundation relative to the center can present signs of distress such as cracks in the sheetrock, brick, tile or concrete. Doors and windows don’t open or close properly. Some of you are thinking that this is going to lead to expensive foundation repair. You are heading to the garage to sharpen your ax and you are going to solve this problem once and for all. Before you start cutting down all your trees, stop and finish reading this short article.
“So Foundation Check, what is the answer?”
And the Answer is…
If the tree was there before the house was built – leave it. The elevation of the home’s foundation was placed after the tree already had an effect on the soil. If the tree is small and was planted after the home was built, cutting it down may be one of the several options. If it is a small tree and it is very close to the foundation, cutting it down now before it gets big may be a good course of action. Every situation is different – different kinds of trees, different sizes of trees, different distances from the home’s foundation – they all will play a role in the decision process. This is a time when you will be wise in consulting with a tree expert to get guidance. They may recommend a root barrier, an adjustment to your watering program, etc.
In other articles on our website, we will outline other potential contributors to foundation movement. Do you need expensive foundation repair if one or more of these problems happen on your property? Maybe not.
In other articles, we will also suggest ways the homeowner could address these issues and save them money.
For other general questions about foundation movement, contact us and we will try to answer within a day or two but many times each property has its own unique set of issues and a general answer may not always work for your specific case, but bring them on, we love helping homeowner uncover the mysteries of foundation distress.