Terrible Trees

When planting trees near your home, consider how much the roots may spread. Trees with large roots may spread and damage water pipes or bust up your foundation.

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Homeowners Jessica Bunker and Adam Malisch are concerned that a tree is forcing its way into their California home. House inspector Rick Yerger is called in to assess the situation.

Inspector's Notebook—Root of a Foundation Problem
The homeowners in Riverside, Calif., thought the root of their foundation problem was a tree growing too close to their house. If a tree isn’t the proper distance away from a house, those roots can get out of control and clog sewer and water lines or cause cracks and damage to the foundation.

If a tree causes damage to the foundation of your home, you’ll need to call in a professional. The tree may have to be removed before the foundation is repaired. That’s why it’s important to do your homework. Determine how big a tree can grow, and how far the root structure can spread to avoid problems spouting up down the road. Here are some general tips to help prevent a potential root problem.

  • Plant trees at least 10 feet away from the house, depending on how big the tree and roots will grow.
  • Don’t plant trees above or near sewer or water lines.
  • Consult with a structural engineer if you believe tree roots have damaged your foundation.
  • If tree roots are inching closer to your foundation, consider installing a root barricade made of thick Plexiglas. It’s buried deep in the ground and can stem the roots from attacking your house.

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