When facing pipework or foundation damage, we quickly tend to put the blame on trees and cut them down. However, they bring many benefits to our home. Besides this fact, they are most often not even the main culprits of your damages. Admittedly, they can indirectly participate in the deterioration of infrastructure, but their role is more of a catalyst. Especially since other factors can cause these deteriorations.
Trees: catalysts for pre-existing damage
The most common tree-related disturbances are clogged pipes, displaced concrete blocks and cracked foundations. However, very rarely are trees primarily responsible for your damage. They play more of a catalyst role. This means that when a problem appears in the structures, the trees will tend to accentuate the problem in a completely random manner.
Freezing and thawing
In winter, water commonly turns into ice. There are many icy roads that freeze and thaw several times which creates potholes. This effect also makes certain structures shift, as they move back into place when the ice melts and create a space. This space between each freeze and thaw leaves room for tree roots to grow. As such, the tree is not the main cause of the upheaval of these concrete masses but the freeze-thaw phenomenon.
While a tree can contribute to soil dryness, it can just as easily contribute to moisture maintenance as a result of the shade that it provides. If the roots of the tree fail to reach under the foundations, they should not be able to cause this kind of damage. Indeed, the state of the soil would be the first indicator of a risk of foundation damage. One should instead be worried about muddy soil since it will leave the earth barren once dry. When this happens, it is recommended to check the condition of your French drains. Moreover, in this type of situation, trees can be very useful since their roots can drain the soil during heavy rains, thus avoiding landslides.
It is well-known that roots are in constant search of water to be able to develop. Therefore, it is normal to think that they might be attracted to the pipes of our houses. It is true that you can often find pipes blocked by thin roots, but this is not an intentional phenomenon. Essentially, when tree roots develop, they cannot detect water at a distance, they grow randomly and if they land in a wet spot, they will multiply. Therefore, if you find roots in your pipes, it is often due to chance.
As mentioned above, trees are not always directly responsible for your infrastructure damage, however it is important to ensure that they are not planted within three meters of the foundation. You should also check that your home’s structures are deep and compact enough to prevent the roots from growing.
In addition, it is necessary to regularly check the condition of your pipes and replace them if necessary. For this, you can see your neighborhood’s municipal authority.