preventing tree root concrete damage

Preventing Tree Root-Related Concrete Damage

As longtime home or property owners may already be aware, tree roots aren’t quite the harmless bit of nature they may seem. Large tree roots can interfere with a few specific structures or areas on a property, and one of the most common examples here is concrete that’s damaged by tree roots growing into and around it.

At Lift-Up Concrete Lifting, LLC, not only are we here to offer quality residential and commercial concrete lifting and leveling services for any damaged slab, but also the expertise to help you avoid these sorts of damage in the first place. What are the risks of tree roots in your concrete slabs, how does this sort of damage form, and what can you do to avoid it? Here’s a rundown.

How Tree Roots Infiltrate Concrete

Tree roots, especially the larger systems that connect to big, long-lasting trees, are likely far more powerful and wide-ranging than you might have realized. They can grow to extreme lengths, distances, and depths (especially in the case of older trees) and can even expand their reach underground through networks of smaller feeder roots.

Some roots may even be extensive enough to continue growing far beyond a property line due to unseen damage or natural growth – but either way, they can wind up infiltrating your concrete slabs. When this happens, the roots can wind up growing through them or even lifting whole slabs right off the ground.

Is Your Concrete at Risk?

A lot of common factors can influence whether tree roots may damage your concrete slab, including:

  • The type of soil that it’s in: Tree roots require the right conditions to grow, and this means more than just an adequately thick layer of soil. A mix of loose soil with some dense spots is ideal for growing plenty of new roots quickly, especially if the area has already seen some decay or erosion.
  • The age and type of tree: Trees can produce roots at different rates over their lifespan, and older trees may have a more developed root system that can cause extensive damage to concrete slabs over time. The type of tree in question can also influence whether roots wind up infiltrating a slab, too.
  • How the concrete was laid: Whether it’s in a new home or an old one, there are certain ways that laid concrete gives roots an edge when it comes to infiltrating and growing underneath the surface. These methods include laid concrete without a robust leveling system, with broken, uneven slabs, or with plenty of crevices between individual pieces for roots to grow through.

Visual Indicators of Tree Roots in Concrete

In certain extreme cases where you’ve left this issue to worsen for too long, you’ll actually be able to see tree roots themselves growing through and out of your concrete slabs. However, before the damage ever reaches this point, there are other telltale signs of this issue that you may pick up:

  • Major cracks: If a concrete slab seems to be cracking and shifting more than it should, even if there’s no evidence of tree roots at all, it could still be a sign that those roots are infiltrating the space underneath.
  • Heaving or sinking slabs: Heaving involves small pockets of air forming under a slab as they expand from the pressure of tree roots growing underneath, and this can cause a slab to rise or even lift up once the tree dies. Sinking may happen as well when roots grow into and around a foundation’s footing; since those roots take up space in the soil, it leaves less of it for that footing to hold onto against your home’s weight as time goes on.
  • Buckling slabs: Buckling, on the other hand, refers to the appearance of a concrete slab that’s risen and cracked with bulging sections. At first, you may think this is just another case of heaving or settling followed by major damage, but in reality it can be an indication that roots are actually growing into and around your slab.

Liability Risks

In addition to the risks posed to your concrete by tree roots, these same roots may also lead to major liability risks. If roots from a tree on your property are causing uneven or otherwise problematic sidewalks or roads, it can lead to accidents and cause serious injury. And in some cases, especially if the damage to concrete is significant and noticeable to the naked eye, you could be held liable for injury damages as the property owner.

On top of this, you may also be held responsible for having the roots removed if they’re intruding onto your neighbor’s property – and then, you’ll need to foot their bill for any damages done as a result.

How to Prevent Root and Concrete Issues

The first method for preventing these issues is simple diligence. If you notice even minor signs that tree roots might be starting to grow under your concrete, you should take prompt measures to stop them before they ever reach this point.

The second method is also simple, if not necessarily easy: You can remove any trees encroaching on or near your property that seem to cause these issues with their roots. However, the removal process may be more complicated than simply chopping down a tree, and may also be expensive.

And finally, there are situations where our concrete lifting and leveling services will be the right approach here. For significant cases of damage, we’re happy to not only repair your concrete and ensure it’s at the proper solid level once again, but also to assist with tree root infiltration if it’s taking place.

For more on how tree roots may be playing a role in concrete damage, or to learn about any of our concrete repair services, speak to the staff at Lift-Up Concrete Lifting, LLC today.