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Hi Robert,

I read your column every week. Being a single lady and living in a private home, I have learned quite a lot from you and the readers. I have a question for you.

My next door neighbor is concerned about the foundation in her home because of tree roots from my large tree in the front of my home.

She doesn’t care about some cracks or the concrete on her driveway, just if the tree roots would do some harm to the foundation.

Who would I call to come over and look at her house and give her an answer?

We are very good friends and I would like to have her get the answer.

Thanks, Barbara O.

Barbara,

If you know that there is a root under the driveway and is headed for her foundation then I recommend that you have your gardener find the root and cut it at that point of entry to her driveway.

I have cut thousands of roots over the years and have never damaged a tree.

Based on what you’re telling me the root will be pretty large and won’t be hard to find. This will take care of both issues.

Feel free to reach out to me with any further questions.

Robert,

My wife and I are in a major dispute over some work.

It’s about 800 square feet of concrete that we recently had done and it’s already cracking (please see the attached pictures).

Within two weeks, we are seeing four hairline fractures, one of them already about six feet long.

We didn’t notice in the contract where it stated that if the concrete cracked we wouldn’t be able to hold the contractor responsible. I contacted him and he pointed this out to us, noting that it is something we will not be able to hold him responsible for – that this is common with concrete.

This has caused a big riff between my wife and me, as she believes this should not happen and is quite upset over it.

We both read your article all of the time and would like your input.

John T.

John,

These are spider cracks.

We put in expansion joints (this keeps two pieces of concrete from drying together, in essence making the pieces smaller), and control joints (this makes the concrete slightly thinner and helps with cracking – sometimes hairline cracks will follow this joint and not be noticeable).

Concrete, however, in essence does what it wants to do despite our best efforts.

As I’ve said before, the guy that invents concrete that doesn’t crack, will be a billionaire.

John, I suggest that you take your wife by the hand, explain that this is fact and go for a walk around the block.

You’ll find no less than five cracks of this same type. It is what concrete does.

She’ll see, and hopefully this will help with the dispute. Best of luck to you.

Hi Robert,

I live in Canyon Country and now that the summer is over, we are going to redo our entire landscape.

Over the years we’ve had a lot of problems with trees and roots. Along with this, that plastic-thin, white drainage piping that they put in is always a nightmare with the roots.

We have quite a bit of property and it always seems to be infected with issues.

In your opinion, what is the best area drain pipe that we could install that will prevent these issues?

Rick T.

Rick,

The tree roots are seeking water.

The thin-walled piping that you’ve mentioned is installed by simply pressing the lengths together, which, because they’re not completely tight gives the roots a pathway to water. And they take it.

If you go to a thermoplastic resin ABS pipe, with all plumbing fittings, you’ll be gluing all pipes together and this will be much more likely to keep the roots away as the joints are sealed with glue.

ABS is designed to have a jetter – high psi (per square inch) – water run through them; or even a cable machine.

I put ABS on my property over 20 years ago and on the rare occasion I’ve had a slowdown in drainage due to debris. I’ve been able to run either the jetter or cable machine to clear it with no worries.

These pipes, unlike the pipes you have, are designed to withstand this type of servicing.

I recommend on a property such as yours that you not only install ABS, but add clean-outs no less than every 75 feet. Service these pipes annually before rains, making sure they’re clear and you’ll get many years out of them especially if you are diligent about keeping them clear of debris.

This will cost you more up front, but will be well worth it because you won’t end up tearing up landscape or even hardscape, for repairs. Best of luck to you.

Robert Lamoureux has 38 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at robert@imsconstruction.com.

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