Could Roots Be Taking Over Your Pipes? Here’s What to Look for:

Could Roots Be Taking Over Your Pipes? Here’s What to Look for:

Photo By Stephen Farhall at Shutterstock

Roots are one of the most common problems for pipes running to and from buildings, both residential and commercial. It may not seem like an obvious problem. After all, most people don’t plant trees directly over pipelines. However, root systems are always growing as they seek out more water and nutrients. As a direct result of this, roots can often be the cause of pipe breaks as they seek out what’s within them. This often results in the need for a plumber to provide a comprehensive inspection and repairs.

What should you do as a property owner facing root damage? The first step to look for signs of root damage to pipes. Here’s what you can look for in these pipes.

#1: Sinkholes Around Your Property

Sinkholes are openings that occur under the surface level of the ground. They are hard to see and tend to occur unexpectedly. Some areas of the country are more prone to them than others, but sinkholes are a common indication of changing ground conditions.

A sinkhole can form as the tree roots expand and move through areas. When they happen, they create large holes that open up, often taking large objects – from sidewalks to full cars down with them. Sometimes roots can be the cause of this or pipes that are damaged from roots and break open. This can change the way water flows in the area, creating large openings that are dangerous. If you notice sinkholes, stay away from them. Call a plumber and the local building department to determine if they are safe to repair and how to do so.

#2: Slow Drains

When water cannot drain easily down a pipe, that’s an indication something is blocking the way. It could be due to a clog, such as something larger going down into the drain blocking the flow of water. Other times, grease and food particles can clog up the drain lines themselves. However, roots can also be a major factor in this.

When roots penetrate into drain lines, this creates a limited flow of water and material down the drain. The direct result of this is backed up drains. Most often, this happens gradually over a few weeks or longer as the roots move into the area. If you’re noticing slowing drains over a period of time, it’s likely time to call a plumber for help.

#3: Sewer Line Damage

Another indication of roots in pipes happens when there is sewer line damage. Unfortunately, most people don’t find this out until they have a sewage backup in their home. Sewer lines contain water that trees are attracted to as well. The water moving through these lines tends to be warmer. As it travels through the lines, it turns to vapor and is released through even very small cracks or joints into the soil around the lines. The tree roots grow towards this area, causing further damage and, often collapsing the line.

If you have sewer line damage, you’ll likely see your drain lines slowing, until they can longer work properly. Sewage and other drainage material flow back into the lines and into your home. You will need a plumber to help in this situation as the work can be rather significant. If you notice any type of backup in these lines, don’t wait to call a plumber in to help.

#4: Gurgling Sounds

Another common sign that roots are moving into your pipes is the sounds you hear from them. Often, you’ll hear gurgling sounds coming from the drains in your home. For example, a floor drain in the home may have slight echoing-like sounds. This occurs when there is a blockage present. Many times, the gurgling sounds will also come from the toilets as they work to push sewage down the lines. When this happens, it’s a clear indication that you should call a professional as there’s a vacuum occurring – where air and water are trapped.

#5: Odors

Like the gurgling sounds you hear, you may also smell foul odors more readily from your drains. This happens because the drains cannot move material through them fast enough. It remains sitting in them for a long period of time. Air brings that smell back up and into your home.

Odors are a concern because they tend to be an early indicator of a larger problem. If you notice them, it’s important to be proactive in getting a plumber out to further investigate the underlying cause.

Signs of a Major Breach in Your Water Line

Often, root damage like this takes time. If you notice any of the previous signs, call a professional right away. This can help minimize the more significant damage that could happen if you catch it sooner. There are some signs that indicate the condition is worsening or that there is a major break in the lines. This includes:

  • A drop in available water to the home (incoming water lines can also be damaged by roots)
  • A drop-in water pressure in the home or spurting from the lines
  • Increases in water bills, especially significant ones you cannot otherwise justify
  • Whistling sounds from the pipes
  • Puddles of water in the yard that don’t drain and are not from rain
  • Significant odors you smell outside of your home

Any changes in the way water moves through your home are important to notice and address as soon as possible. Roots can easily take over even the most well-maintained pipes. However, routine maintenance from your plumber along with inspections as soon as an early warning sign happens can give you the help you need in preventing a larger problem. A plumber can help you to prevent these concerns from happening.

You’re Not in This Alone – Call Your Plumber for Help

At bluefrog Plumbing + Drain, our team can help you determine if roots are a problem and create immediate solutions. We can also talk to you about potential long-term fixes for this. Call your plumber in our office for immediate help.

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