Understanding the Damage Tree Roots Can Cause to your Pipes
Tree roots can cause significant damage to plumbing systems. As we all know, significant damage equals expensive and a giant pain you know where. Knowing the warning signs of tree root damage to pipes can help you catch potential problems early. If necessary, you can engage a plumbing professional to assess any damage and repair the pipes. If you suspect tree root damage may already be present or you want to be proactive to keep it from happening, here’s what you need to know.
Trees Follow the Water
The root system of trees and shrubs will naturally tend to gravitate towards water and sewer lines – especially in dry climates like the Arizona desert. Avoid planting near water mains and sewer lines whenever possible.
Signs of Tree Root Damage in Pipes?
Based on a few telltale signs, a homeowner or plumber may suspect tree root damage to pipes. However, many symptoms are similar to those of other types of clogs. That’s why a professional is necessary to diagnose the situation. Signs of tree root damage include:
- Trees near sewer or water lines + frequent clogs
- Slow running drains or gurgling toilets
- Visible sinkholes in the yard
In some instances, tree roots can clog pipes to the point that water or sewage backs up into the home. A sewage backup poses a considerable health risk, along with some horrible smells, a huge mess, and one big headache for homeowners.
The primary way that modern plumbers definitively diagnose tree root damage is through using specialized cameras. The camera recordings allow plumbers to pinpoint the location of the issue and quickly assess the severity.
Preventing Damage Caused by Tree Roots in Pipes
There are multiple paths for homeowners to take to prevent tree roots from damaging their pipes. The first (and perhaps most obvious) is to know where water and sewer lines are and avoid planting near there. If you’re not sure where your lines are, contact your local public works department or dial 811, the national “Call Before You Dig” number.
Another useful step is to create barriers between trees and pipes. Some homeowners choose to spread chemical growth inhibitors near their sewer lines while others prefer physical wooden or metal barricades. If you want to make sure all of your bases are covered, consider doing both. This combination is especially useful if you’ve moved into a home with established landscaping and trees you suspect could infringe on your water or sewer pipes in the future.
Lastly, if you want to or must place plants or bushes near the sewer line, do your research. Look for slow-growing plants and shrubs that do not have extensive root systems.
Repairing Damage Caused by Tree Roots in Pipes
The process of repairing pipes from tree roots depends on the severity of the damage. In cases of minimal root intrusion, hydro jetting may be an option. Hydro jetting can also have a rejuvenating effect on pipes in the process by clearing away years of buildup along with blockages.
In most cases, trenchless sewer repair or replacement will be the better option. In this process, pipes are completely replaced using a method called pipe bursting. Trenchless sewer repair works by hydraulically moving a cone through lines, breaking apart old, damaged pipes. As the old pipes are broken up, new high-density polyethylene (HDPE) piping is pulled into place. (HDPE is one of the most durable materials currently on the market). Even cast iron pipes can be replaced using this method!
Luckily, because a plumber uses a special camera to inspect the issue in the first place, you can rest assured that any work being done by a reputable plumber is necessary.
If you suspect there may be tree roots in your pipes or would like to rule out any other kind of damage to your plumbing system, schedule a camera-equipped inspection today! Our experts can show you the current condition of your pipes in real-time, and identify any problems or potential problems. From there, you can take appropriate steps to help keep your plumbing in top shape for years to come.