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Can Trees Damage Your Crawl Space?

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Caring for your crawl space involves more than keeping it clean. If you have trees growing too close to the perimeter of your home, it’s possible that their root systems may compromise the structural integrity of your crawl space.

The good news is that trees and tree roots won’t physically start to damage your crawl space. However, you’ll still need to protect your crawl space from the effects trees and roots can have on the soil around your home.

roots and crawl space problems

Will Tree Roots Damage Your Crawl Space?

The older a tree gets, the larger its root system is going to be. If you’re moving onto a new property and enjoying the shade from a maple, for example, it’s almost guaranteed that the tree’s root system will be as large as its canopy.

Unfortunately, those root systems can sometimes grow too close to your home. While the roots themselves won’t physically damage your crawl space, they will cause the soil around your space to shift. As that soil shifts, your crawl space will settle. In settling, your structural supports will come into contact with more groundwater. This means that they’ll have to endure more hydrostatic pressure than normal and may begin to falter sooner.

Tree roots beget additional crawl space damage, even if they are physically growing into your home.

Protecting Your Crawl Space

Looking for a way to keep your crawl space dry? You can protect your space through a variety of means. Some of the most common ways to get started include:

  • Picking and choosing your trees – There are some trees that grow more rapidly than others. While you’ll want your yard to reflect your personality and botanical interests, you should discuss your ambitions with a representative at your local nursery. These experts will be able to tell you whether your investment is a sound one or if you’ll want to look elsewhere.
  • Moving larger trees away from your home – You can’t always control what’s been planted on an existing property. You can, however, transplant some of the larger trees that have made themselves at home in your yard. It’s best to move these trees at least 20 feet away from your perimeter and to allow an expert to do the bulk of the work for you. This way, the tree can thrive while its roots settle further away from your home.
  • Investing in crawl space inspections – If you’d rather not deal with the details of tree transplantation, you can always keep up your crawl space care. You’ll want to invite an expert out to your property at least once a year for a crawl space inspection. During these inspections, a local contractor can tell you whether your crawl space is in good condition.
  • Waterproofing your crawl space – It’s never a bad idea to waterproof your crawl space. You have several waterproofing measures at your disposal, including vapor barriers and dehumidifiers. If you’re concerned about tree roots, talk with a local contractor about the preventative measures that can both ward off tree roots and hydrostatic pressure.

What Trees Should You Avoid Planting Around Your Home?

It’s true that some types of trees have more invasive root systems than others. How are you supposed to tell which ones do, especially if you can’t tell an elm from a maple?

Luckily, the more invasive tree species are well-advertised. The ones you’ll want to avoid planting near your home include:

  • American Elms 
  • Willow Trees 
  • Hybrid Poplars 
  • Silver Maples

These trees do not belong to the same family. These means you can readily swap one of the more invasive species for one of their calmer cousins. This way, you can enjoy the beauty of your favorite genus of tree without having to worry about roots coming for your crawl space. That said, you never have to take on the challenge of protecting your crawl space alone. You can always reach out to one of the crawl space repair contractors operating out of the St. Louis, MO, area. These professionals can walk you through a crawl space inspection and point out any signs of damage you may have otherwise missed. They’ll then provide you with a quote on any repairs you may need. This way, you can pick and choose the ways you want to protect your crawl space from the roots in your yard.

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