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We have a fir tree planted at the front corner of our house. We recently had foundation problems due to that side of the house sinking. We live in north Texas. The company that fixed our foundation advised that the tree was using all the water and therefore, causing our foundation problems and advised us to remove it. It is about 20ft tall and now we are wondering if we should undertake the task of removing it. An ideas or suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.

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How far from the house is the tree? –  Niall C. Feb 14 '13 at 16:58
    
pretty much against the house –  user1936 Feb 14 '13 at 19:33
    
Contact a qualified arborist to examine the tree. If you do decide to fell the tree, consider if the tree is near a public path or road as felling it could be a hazard (which may also require arboricultural help). –  Ambo100 Feb 14 '13 at 21:56
    
If it's a Douglas Fir, it will end up invading the area under the foundation and house and the tree roots will end up breaking the foundation up as they penetrate under it and expand. I had to deal with a cement block foundation that did this. –  Fiasco Labs Jul 29 '13 at 7:45

1 Answer 1

If the tree is within a few feet of the foundation it should be removed. Please consider hiring an arborist to remove it, particularly, as Ambo100 points out, if it could fall on your car, the sidewalk or another house. Some cities have ordinances prohibiting the removal of trees above a certain size. Best to check before cutting.

Fir trees are not known to have aggressive water seeking roots but many factors play into how far a tree's roots will look for water:

  • soil profile
  • availability of water

The Morton Arboretum states

Roots are often blamed for damage to foundations. In reality, roots are rarely the cause of the problem. Though small roots may penetrate existing cracks in foundations, they are incapable of causing mechanical damage through their growth. Soil subsidence can result in damage to structures. Under very special circumstances roots can contribute to this problem. When soils are prone to shrinking substantially during periods of drought, and if foundations are shallow, roots can contribute to depletion of soil moisture under the foundation, causing it to subside.

I can't determine without a local inspection whether your tree is the source of the problems but it is too close. Most trees should be at least ten feet from your house and twenty is better. A rule of thumb is that a tree should be a distance away from your house equal to its mature height.

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We have a 80ft spruce about 10 ft from our foundation. It's been there for as long as the house (est. a century or so) No known issues there and I have asked public servant arborists for opinions who have generally advised against removing the tree. As far as your distance recommendations are these due solely to what happens if the tree falls? Or are there other factors? –  Chris Travers Feb 23 '13 at 5:40
    
@ChrisTravers: your situation is sufficiently different from the OP's that it warrants opening a new question (different species of tree, further from the house, you have an arborist's advice vs. OP has a foundation repair company's advice). If you do, please refer back to this question for context, explaining the differences between your situations. –  Niall C. Feb 24 '13 at 5:57

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