4 Signs that tree roots have grown into your pipes

metal pipe filled with tree roots

Trees can be a beautiful addition to your lawn. They provide shade and help to create more curb appeal to your home. However, the tree roots may grow into water and sewer systems and cause major problems. Absolute Airflow recommends that one monitors tree roots growth to avoid drainage systems damage. One should also seek professional help in drainage maintenance at home or in the office. Proper maintenance will ensure that roots growing into the pipes are detected early. That way, the problem can be prevented without incurring major costs. To know if the roots are growing into your pipes, there are certain signs you should watch out for.

Here are 4 signs that tree roots have grown into your pipes.

  1.   Slow flowing drains

The first sign of roots growing into your sewerage or water system is slow-flowing drains. If you have trees nearby your sewerage system, you should check for cracks and direction of the roots if you notice slow flowing drains. Sometimes, after flushing the toilet, there could be gurgling sound as the water goes down the drain. It may also drain much slower than usual. Such drainage issues should be reported to a professional in cleaning drainage systems. They will check the drainage systems, and if roots are growing into it, they can detect it early, and help to prevent further penetration of the roots into the drainage system.

  1.   Unpleasant smell

Water blockage especially, in the sewage will result in a foul smell in the washroom and inside your house. In case you notice a foul smell in your home, you should consult a professional plumber to check the drains. Stagnant water in the pipes encourages bacteria growth which causes the foul smell. Tree roots will grow towards any source of water to get a constant supply of humidity. That is why they grow into the cracks of the pipes and will cause blockage or slow drainage which causes the foul smell.

plastic pipe broken by arm-thick tree root

  1.   Green patches of grass and vegetation

Moisture from the drainage pipes will encourage vegetation growth. When you see unusual vegetation growth near the drainage pipes, you should have them checked. Most probably, there are cracks along the pipe hence the surrounding ground receives moisture that encourages the growth of vegetation. You will notice that the tree roots will also grow towards the source of water and extend inside the drains causing more damage. Regular draining and cleaning of the pipes can help detect and prevent leakage on the pipes.

  1.   Low water pressure and increased water bills

If you notice a reduction in water flow pressure, it is good to consult a professional plumber. They may identify any water leakage in the main water or sewer line. Doing so helps reduce the possibility of roots growing into the drainage. A reduction in water availability in the taps, and an increase in water bills is another indicator that the main water line has leakages, and roots may be growing into it. If you have trees nearby, it is good to inspect the pipes to ensure the roots are not clogging the waterline. Remember, cutting down the trees may not help to stop roots from growing into the pipes. It is good to seek professional help to deal with it.

  1.   Camera inspection

There are new technology methods to detect roots growth in your pipes. Video footage through a camera that is strategically placed at an access point will help a plumber identify root growth in the pipes. Through hydro jetting, pipe replacement, or pipe relining tree roots growth in your sewer can easily be eliminated. If you see any of the above signs, you may seek a professional plumber to help you confirm if roots are growing into your pipes and causing the obstruction. It is a serious problem that can lead to costly repairs and replacement if not sorted early.

Cracks in pipes lead to leakages, and this attracts the roots to grow towards the pipes and eventually, they penetrate the pipe. Big trees have a long root network and will grow fast towards the water leakage points. If no professional help is sought on time, root obstruction will cause serious damage and blockage to the sewer system. It is good to have the issue sorted early by professionals to avoid such costly home maintenance procedures. Property owners should monitor and maintain their properties in good condition. Plumbing procedures must be followed and routine check-ups and maintenance are also important to ensure the proper functioning of the drainage system.

The 12 FAQs to Guide You to Solve the “Roots in Pipes” Problem

Any responsible house owner knows that taking care of the house regularly is the best way to avoid unnecessary repairs and fixings.

From preparing the roof for the winter to cleaning the sewers regularly, there are so many things you need to address when having a household and some yard. You cannot control everything, though, and sometimes you may have to deal with tree roots grown into the sewer pipes. But don’t start cleaning the ducts just yet; you should go over the next FAQs to see what’s the best way to tackle the problem.

1.      What’s the main cause for which roots end up growing in sewer pipes?

When trees and plants develop, the “underground root system” will grow, seeking out moisture in a natural way. Unfortunately, the humidity in the wastewater pipelines and sewer is the most consistent source.

Cracks in pipe and joints provide the perfect entry for the roots, which will begin to grow at the top of the tube, spreading in time.

2.      Does the problem of roots in pipes happen a lot?

If you’re thinking that you’re the only one dealing with tree roots growing inside sewer pipes, you may want to think twice. On the contrary, it happens more often than one would expect.

The Environmental Protection Agency states that root growth in the pipes is probably the only most damaging element when it comes to the wastewater collection system. When you don’t address the problem, the roots will spread throughout the pipes, blocking the flow and even completely stop the flow.

The tree roots look for oxygen, which is why they don’t grow in pipes filled with water. They will grow through in a warm and moist environment, capable of providing plenty of nutrients.

Just because the problem is common, doesn’t mean it’s cheap to solve. Once you have roots growing in the pipes, it’s going to take some money and time to eliminate the problem. A septic system can even be destroyed by root intrusion, and it’s going to empty your wallet to repair it.

3.      How frequently do roots grow in pipes?

Tree roots growing in pipes can produce significant damage. Homeowners, but also businesses and municipalities, may struggle with sewer problems on the cause of roots. Roots growing fast can turn infrastructure completely useless, and the spending is high for fixing. It seems that tree root invasion is the leading cause of more than 50% of all sewer blockages.

A recent geostatistical study in Columbia revealed that it’s the more giant trees causing pipe damage most of the time. The tree-pipe distance is significant when controlling the roots and reducing the risk of growth. The study also showed that precipitation and pipe length don’t impact the root intrusion.

4.      What aspect affects the tree root growth in pipes the most?

Some aspects count a lot for tree roots growing in sewer and pipes, and you should be aware of them. For instance, small, shallow, and old pipes with joints present a high risk of root growth.

Fast-growing and large trees will more likely lead to root growth, whereas some materials of pipes (clay, brick, and concrete) lose durability, leading to cracking.

5.      What are anchor roots and how do they affect pipes?

Not all tree roots will penetrate the sewer and the pipes, though. The anchor roots penetrate at the depth, surrounding intact pipes and not causing any issues whatsoever. The damage will happen only when an opening/crack will get in the pipes, helping the roots creep and thrive.

It can take a couple of years until roots penetrate a pipe’s seal, growing.

6.      Is there just one fundamental cause for root ingrowth or it’s a combination of factors?

Even if several aspects are raising the risk of root growth, the open connections are the most common cause for root ingrowth.

We should remind you that, as long as the sewer line is installed correctly, you should never have to worry about root ingrowth.

7.      What’s an easy way to address the root growth in sewers?

You can use a root cutter or a cleaning nozzle designed for sewer for getting rid of the roots. There aren’t many differences between root cutting and pruning, and it’s only a matter of time until roots will start grow back again. It’s not a permanent solution.

The best way is to go with a sewer renovation when you have to replace the pipes and install pipes with newer material. You can also reline the pipes, but it’s also a time and money consuming project.

8.      How much money should you expect to spend on pipe repair costs after root ingrowth?

Repairing the pipes may cost you more than installing new ones. When you have to fix the main sewers and drains, on the cause of root tree growth, you should be ready to have a thick wallet. The tree roots can damage the gutter, flooding the streets and buildings, both private and public. Removing the roots can cost you one-sixth the cost of pipe replacement/renewal, so make sure it’s worth it.

9.      Can you prevent root growth in pipes in any way?

Well, thought tree landscaping, soil solutions, and sewer lines correctly installed with long-lasting piping materials are fundamental for preventing tree root ingrowth.

Each of these solutions requires proper planning, and you should do diligence about it.

10. How can you prepare the soil to prevent roots growing in pipes?

When trying to solve the root ingrowth by managing soil, it’s recommended that you look for both active and passive methods. Inserting moist soil in the trench is a passive method preventing root growth. As for the proactive measures, planting pits, soil aeration, and root trenches are the most common to name.

11. Are some trees safer than others for pipes?

It can take decades until trees looking for water will start to grow into sewer lines and pipes. Don’t forget that you get to decide which trees to plant and where you’re going to plant them.

It’s better that you keep the number of trees planted close to the sewer line under control. It would help if you also considered getting smaller trees (trees that have shallow root structures) close to the sewer line. It would help if you Planted low and slow growing trees close to sewer lines.

For instance, some fruit trees (plum, peach, and cherry) and evergreens (cypress is one to name) pose a lower risk of damaging the sewer pipes. It’s always wise to have the massive trees as far from the sewer as possible.

Maple, birch, poplar, elm, Russia olive, and ash cottonwood are trees that you should never plant close to the sewer line. Poplar, sweetgum, ash, locust, basswood, willow, sycamore, box elder, tulip tree, and several maple varieties are on the list of forbidden trees as well.

12. Are there pipe materials that protect better against root ingrowth?

Tree roots ingrowth is less likely to happen in PVC sewer pipes since PVC connections are difficult to penetrate and secure most of the time. Moreover, PVC pipes don’t require many joints, which pose a high risk for tree roots penetration.

You should opt for root-resistant pipe connections such as jacket pipes (they protect the tube. Laying down panels and foil in trenches keeping the roots away from pipes are also solutions.

On top of everything else, PVC pipes are tightly fitted, which can only lower the risk of leakage. They’re long-lasting and sustainable and a popular choice for drainage systems and sewage. On top of everything else, they’re easy to install and lightweight, with zero risks of cracking.  As mentioned, it’s not the case with concrete sewer pipes that are present a higher risk of root ingrowth.

When you’re replacing the old sewer lines and install new ones, make sure that you solve any root infiltration too.

About Amanda

I love to buy a lot of products for the home, and dissect them out. I split them into duds and winners, and share the findings here on my site. As a reader of my site, I'm hoping for your next purchase to be an informed and inspired one.

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