0405 950 053 08 7225 6514 Office Suite 4, Wellington Business Centre, 2 Portrush Rd, Payneham, SA 5070
0405 950 053 08 7225 6514 Office Suite 4, Wellington Business Centre, 2 Portrush Rd, Payneham, SA 5070

The extent of structural damage that can be caused by tree roots

Trees frame your yard and help create a gorgeous backdrop for your property. You’re probably not thinking about trees beyond their advantages.

But, structurally, trees can cause major damage to homes. Damage you can’t even see. Tree roots can cause structural failures by increasing the soil movement if it’s highly reactive.

The size of the tree root is usually as big as the span of the tree. Impressive? Maybe.

To identify the impact of the tree to the house, excavate an inspection trench near the tree to determine the extent that roots have penetrated. The impact of damage that a tree root can cause depends on its size. A small size lateral root is not as alarming as a thick tap tree root, so it is best to dig a trench to analyse the size and location. This is particularly important if you’re planning home extension services in your Adelaide home.

Insights from residential structural engineers in Adelaide.

To investigate the effect of tree damage, structural engineers identify the taproot, lateral roots and root hairs. The diameter of the taproot and the moisture it absorbs will determine the extent of the damage. The direction of the taproot also matters if it penetrates the foundation.

Visually, you might spot cracks on the walls caused by the soil’s change in moisture level, making it expand and contract.

To reduce soil movement, removing a tree isn’t always the best course of action. Placing a barrier around the tree roots is a viable solution to protect the foundation of the house.

Your structural engineering consultants (like our Adelaide-based team) will handle this update. The last thing you want is to incorrectly place a root barrier, as this leads to tree decay or death (which will lead to a host of new problems).

If, together, you do decide to remove the tree (and have council permission), it must be performed by a professional arborist. Do not try and do it yourself. These issues exist under the surface and this requires professional expertise. For example, a large tree should be removed in the dry season to maintain consistent soil moisture.

During the wet season, a tree absorbs water from the soil. If removed during heavy downfall, it can increase in the moisture content in the soil, which impacts the foundation of the house.

There are other elements to consider, such as slopes. If a tree is located on an unstable slope, that can lead to issues. Prior to the removal of a tree, it’s important to improve the stability of the slope either by building an engineered retaining wall in accordance with AS 4698 – 2002 (Earth Retaining Structures).

Another solution is to update the slope angle by adding compacted, allowable fill material in accordance with AS 3798 – 2007 (Guidelines on Earthworks or Commercial and Residential Developments).

As you can tell, trees need to be treated carefully, especially with older structures on top. There’s an entire ecosystem under the surface that requires expert residential structural engineers.

Talk to our Adelaide team today on 0405 950 053 or book a free 20-minute consultation.

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Dream Maker;Problem Solver

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