View Full Version : Foundation problems

February 16, 2009, 22:45
I live on a slab foundation and around the slab, at the front porch, there is a runner of bricks that goes around that the vertical supports for the porch rest on. Starting about 3 years ago, the row of bricks on one side broke away from the slab and moved about an inch over.

I had a brickmason come over in 2006 and he pushed it over some, poured a new concrete footer, and poured concrete in the crack to seal it.

A year ago the row of bricks broke off again and this time has risen about 2 inches and over about 1 inch. This has now caused the railings on the porch to separate from each other, the porch is separating from the house and the cedar siding is starting to crack.

I've had masons and foundation guys come out and look at it and they're talking about using helical piers and footers, blah blah blah, to keep it from settling. That didn't seem right to me. The bricks are RISING not settling.

Well, I do have a large red maple tree about 25 feet away.

I dug down in front of the bricks and sure enough, about 6 inches down I hit a tree root as big around as my arm. Since the mason was only working on the side and not the front, he never saw it.

It's going underneath the brickwork to get to the moisture from the downspout and the AC drain for the house, which is just to the rear of the porch.

Okay, so THAT's why the bricks separating and rising. So much for $1500 helical piers.

It's a fairly easy task to cut a root. I can seal it so the root doesn't get infected and hurt the tree. I like the tree and want to keep it. I can install root barriers later.

But how do I get out this dang root? I can't dig down to it, my porch is on top of it.

Could an auger grind it up if I go in sideways?

Can I pull it out? It probably goes back in there 6 feet or more and it probably branches. Is there a way to get a clamp on it and use a vehicle (truck, bobcat, tow truck, M1 Abrams) of some kind to pull it sideways from underneath?

I'm unemployed and have no income to pay for a tree service. I do have lots of time and some level of ingenuity.

Can anyone suggest a solution?

February 17, 2009, 09:17
that`s a new one.............

damnifino. Start diggin!:D

13th Warrior
February 17, 2009, 18:32
Hummmmm, what about killing the tree, its already trying to kill the house.

February 17, 2009, 18:35
Roots have lots of hair like roots coming off of them. If you want to pull it out it would be easier to kill the root and wait for the hair like roots to dry and fall off.

English Mike
February 17, 2009, 18:45
Once you've cut the root it'll stop being a problem, so you don't need to remove the severed part.

Go back towards the tree by at least six feet when cutting down for a root barrier, as it's almost certain other roots are heading in the same direction & will cause a repeat of the problem if left unchecked.

February 17, 2009, 18:57
Hard to know without seeing it but thinking you might use a "pull hook" on it.
See here;

Likely you could make one from rebar or whatever material you can scrounge.
You're going to need a vehicle with a winch or a tractor, tow truck?

Note: 18 hp Garden Tractors don't work for this purpose. AMHIK! :rolleyes:

Of course, if you can get your hands on a "Skidder" :biggrin:

February 17, 2009, 19:59
Seems to me that if you cut the root, your best bet is to leave the root under the porch. Without removing the porch I don't think you can remove the root. The worst of the vertical lift is done. From this point on the root will decay, and at some point your porch will begin to settle. Your previous mediation attempts will probably prevent it from settling lower than it's original point.

my .02 cents!

February 17, 2009, 20:02
Originally posted by ENGLISH MIKE
Once you've cut the root it'll stop being a problem, so you don't need to remove the severed part.

Go back towards the tree by at least six feet when cutting down for a root barrier, as it's almost certain other roots are heading in the same direction & will cause a repeat of the problem if left unchecked.

I agree with Mike!!

I have 7 Oak trees in my front yard......they send roots out toward the house and driveway......luckily they are near the surface, I just dig em up a little and cut em off. I don't remove the cut off parts until later when they are dead and/or rotten.

Good Luck!!

February 17, 2009, 20:07
Footings to a depth not financially acceptable will fix many "foundation" problems,,, until the earth moves.
I have lived on the same piece of ground almost 40 years, it's topography is constantly being altered by the elements and neighboring development.
Your foundation is floating on the imperceptible undulation of the earth beneath it.

February 17, 2009, 20:14
After some more excavation I found that the root split. The major root goes under but a second root goes between the row of bricks and the slab, forcing them apart.

Also, there is an apron of concrete at the bottom of the foundation. The major root goes between this layer of concrete and the row of cinder block and brick that the supports rest upon.

You can see where the brickmason poured in concrete, right on top of the smaller root.

Worth a thousand words:



February 17, 2009, 21:03
rent a trencher and cut around the foundation. you can add a fungus that will protect the root. get it from an arborist. the tree will be fine.

February 17, 2009, 21:16
That gutter downspout is probably what brought that root to that location, and why it burrowed in the concrete. It was looking for water. Might want to put in a culvert/drain to get the water away from the house

February 18, 2009, 00:22
Roebic sells a product called Foaming Root Killer. Easy to lay down a barrier between tree and dwelling according to directions on container. Found it on Amazon.

February 18, 2009, 18:08
I bought a cheap 4" brick chisel and was able to use my 3 pound sledge to crack off all of that concrete that the brickmason had poured in the crack. I think I can wedge the crack open a smidgen more and maybe pull the smaller root out.

February 19, 2009, 15:00
Dig back along the root/s some. Whack 'em off w/a sawzall or axe. Add recommended root killer.
Pull the cracked/pushed block and brick out. Repair the footer as needed and re-lay the damaged area.

The only way is to do it right! Trying to push it back and glue/fasten some way wil not give long-term satisfaction

Doesn't look like too much of the masonry is affected. Shouldn't be more that a weekend DIY project. Lay in a case of beer and some ribs ;) It'll get done

February 28, 2009, 20:30
Okay, just want to give an update.

The roots had loosened all the block and brick off the footer, so I just used my handy digging bar to pry them away from the slab. Also used the blade on the digging bar to chop through the roots.

Used the digging bar (boy was it handy) to chip up and roughen the concrete footer and used a brick chisel to knock off the mortar from the blocks and bricks.

Put down some mortar, put back the blocks and bricks and it's good as new.

Granted, it took me two days since it kept raining, and I lacerated the heck out of my fingertips on some bricks (which I then got dry mortar dust into -- painful doesn't begin to describe the sensation), but I'm happy that it got done and done right.

Thanks for the help guys!