Why that Tree in your house is Dangerous!
Although trees are generally a desirable feature of home landscaping, however they can pose a threat to buildings and homeowners in a number of ways.
Although trees are generally a desirable feature of home landscaping, however they can pose a threat to buildings and homeowners in a number of ways. In this special piece we explain to you possible dangers a tree can cause to your building and household members…
One of the major parts of the house that trees have been found to be a dreadful threat to is the foundation. Though has now been generally accepted by building experts that tree roots cannot normally pierce through a building’s foundation, they can, however, damage a foundation in several other ways. Firstly, tree roots can sometimes penetrate a building’s foundation through pre-existing cracks, while large root systems that extend beneath a house can cause foundation uplift. They can also leech water from the soil beneath foundations, causing the structures to settle and sink unevenly.
Also, leaves and broken branches of trees can block gutters, potentially causing flooding within the house area which can in the end all water to penetrate the building. Apart from that old, damaged or otherwise weak trees may fall and endanger lives and property. Large, weak branches, too, are a hazard, especially if weighed wind storms.
Another potential destructive effect of trees is that roots can potentially penetrate underground drainage pipes, especially when they leak. Water that leaks from a drainage or sanitary pipe can encourage root growth in the direction of the leak, where the roots may eventually enter the pipe and obstruct its flow. A number of house plumbing defects have been traced to tree roots by experts.
It is important that home owners know that trees may be used by insects and other dangerous animals to gain access to the building. In terms of insects and flies, soldier ants and mosquitoes are the ones that easily find tree tops and leaves habitable. To home owners both constitute a health hazard. In the case of rodents and other dangerous animals, Snakes and Bats are known to find tree tops handy to live on. They may in the end gain access to the house and constitute a potential danger to the entire household.
Apart from that, falling trees and branches can topple power and communication lines in the house in which case you may then have to spend huge amounts of money repairing the damage as a house owner. For falling power lines, they can lead to electrocution of unsuspecting home owner especially if it has to do with windstorm from over-night rainfall.
Trees with structural defects likely to cause failure to all or part of a tree can damage your building and nearby buildings. It is important to be able to identify defects in trees around your house to prevent such disasters. The following are indications that a tree has a structural defect: dead twigs, dead branches, or small, off-colour leaves; species-specific defects.
Also, cankers, which are localized areas on branches or stems of a tree where the back is sunken or missing is an indication of a defect. Cankers are caused by wounding or disease common with trees. The presence of a canker increases the chance that the stem will break near the canker. A tree with a canker that encompasses more than half of the tree’s circumference may be hazardous even if the exposed wood appears healthy.
Another kind of defect with trees that can pose grave danger to home owners is what is known as advanced decay (wood that is soft, punchy or crumbly, or a cavity where the wood is missing) can create a serious hazard. Evidence of fungal activity, such as mushrooms, conks and brackets growing on root flares, stems or branches are indications of advanced decay. A tree usually decays from the inside out, eventually forming a cavity, but sound wood is also added to the outside of the tree as it grows. Trees with sound outer wood shells may be relatively safe, but this depends on the ratio of sound-to-decayed wood, and other defects that might present.
When a tree leans at more than 15 degrees from vertical it is potential dangerous. Generally, trees bent to this degree should be removed before they cause a major disaster. Trees that have grown in a leaning orientation are not as hazardous as trees that were originally straight but subsequently developed a lean due to wind or root damage. Large trees that have tipped in intense winds seldom recover. The general growth-form of the tree and any uplifted soil on the side of the tree opposite the lean provide clues as to when the lean developed.
Useful Tips in Keeping safe Trees
When planting trees, they should be kept far from the house. It is impossible for the homeowner to reliably predict how far the roots will spread, and trees that are too close to a building may be a fire hazard.
Do not damage roots. In addition to providing nutrition for the tree roots anchor the tree to the ground. Trees with damaged roots are more likely to lean and topple than trees with healthy roots. Vehicles are capable of damaging a tree’s root system.
Dead trees within the range of a house should be removed. If they are not removed, the small twigs will fall first, followed by the larger branches, and eventually the trunk. This process can take several years.
Inspect your trees periodically for hazards, especially in large, old trees. Every tree likely to have a problem should be inspected from bottom to top. Look for signs of decay and continue up the trunk toward the crown, noting anything that might indicate a potential hazard.
Binoculars are helpful for examining the higher portions of tall trees for damage.