Tree Roots and Drain Problems

Tree roots and plumbing are not friends. While trees make yard and neighborhood look friendly and homey, but those mature trees can do damage to your plumbing below the surface. When the roots make their way into sewer pipes, they can cause serious problems related to the holes and blockages of the pipes. Tree roots actually like the nutrients that exist in the pipes, which is why so many pipes are damaged by mature roots. If you have a collection of large, mature trees in your yard, you could have serious damage at some point.

Lost Priority for Homeowners

Many homeowners do not know that they are responsible for repairs to any sewer pipe damage that occurs on their property. Even though the sewer pipes are connected to the city sewer, it is still the homeowner’s responsibility and that responsibility can be incredibly expensive to repair. You can save money, time, and serious problems if you learn about the warning signs that tend to occur before the damage occurs.

The pipes that connect the house to the sewer are called sewer laterals. In most cases, the main sewer pipe is in the street. The laterals are the pipes that are usually damaged by trees in the yards and the planting strip between the sidewalk and curb.

How Leaks and Damages Occur

As the warm sewer water passes through the lateral pipes, some water vapor escapes due to the temperature difference between the warm water and the cool soil. Tree roots grow toward moisture, so they are automatically drawn to the water vapor that comes from the lateral pipes. As the pipes age, they often develop microcracks in the actual pipe or at a joint. When the tree root makes its way to the crack, the root will force its way into the pipe itself. If the root and crack remain undetected, the root will continue to grow into the pipe and spread its root masses, which are those hair-like protrusions you have seen on roots. The root masses collect the debris that comes from the home, like oils, toilet paper, grease, and grit.

What to Look For

Due to the blockages caused by root masses, the first sign of a drainage problem is a slow drain. This can result in gurgles coming from toilets. As soon as you hear noises like this and notice slow drainage, you should immediately contact your plumber for advice. If you do nothing, the tree roots and masses will eventually block your entire lateral pipe. If plumbers can get to the pipe early, they can repair the pipe, which is much less costly than having to replace a pipe. When the roots are given the freedom to grow unchecked, they can crack the pipe or break the joint, and bring so much force to the pipe that it collapses.

Landscaping and Other Expenses

If a complete collapse occurs, it is important to realize the expenses that can accrue. Those expenses will include replacing the pipe, connecting to the main line in the street, replacing landscaping, and replacing the sidewalk. To avoid collapse, homeowners should know where those pipes are so they can avoid planting anything too close to the pipes. Once you learn where your lateral pipes are, do not plant anything within 10 feet of the pipes. When you do landscape your yard, choose plants that grow slowly and remain at a manageable size so you do not have to worry about intrusion into the pipes.

Get Help Quickly

If you do find that you have roots in your lateral pipe, damage from blockages is inevitable. You can prevent this problem by regularly scheduling lateral pipe cleaning, which involves high-pressure systems, special saws for roots, and augers. There are companies that specialize in sewer pipe cleaning. You can also request that your plumber videos your sewer line to see if it has need of repair.

Contact Us for Assistance

At Scott English Plumbing, we are always ready to help. If you have any questions about your sewer lateral pipe, please give us a call at 714-987-9801 or 949-462-9773 or contact us through our website.