How Roots Affect My Underground Pipes and What to Do About Them

How Roots Affect My Underground Pipes and What to Do About Them

Photo By Stephen Farhall at Shutterstock

Why are roots a problem for plumbing in homes and businesses? Here is an example of what can happen: A newly planted tree grows just as the owner wanted for the first few years. Long after the owner has forgotten about the tree, he begins to notice the drains in the basement are moving slowly. Soon after that, they start to back up. When he calls a plumbing service, he learns that there are roots from that tree growing into the pipes. How did this happen? And what can be done about it to prevent a plumbing emergency? These are common situations for many property owners, so let’s dive in.

Why Roots Grow into Pipes and Why It Matters

Roots are living components of a tree, that seek out nutrients and water sources. Because your underground water pipes contain water, roots are naturally attracted to them. They are powerful enough to break through those pipes, even PVC pipes, to gain access to the water. Because sewer pipes, which are the most common for these roots to access, also contain nutrients and oxygen, the roots are simply drawn to them in a very aggressive manner.

If there’s a leak or a crack beneath the ground, you may not notice it at home or the outside areas. However, the roots can detect it and are drawn to it. They will then move into that area, growing and even surrounding the pipes as they continue to look for more of the nutrients they need. As they do this, they will enter into those small cracks and holes and start growing there. Often, they will break the pipes as they grow. If not, they will block the interior of the pipes, making it nearly impossible for water to flow through them.

As the roots grow into your pipes, they take up much of the room there. This means that water and debris cannot flow through the pipes any longer. It builds up and backs up into your home. Sometimes this causes a break that is seen from outside of the home. Most often, the water and debris continue to move slower and slower through the lines until it stops moving completely. This is when the lines may start to back up into your home. A plumbing service can help.

What Can Be Done to Stop Roots from Growing into Pipes?

Working with a plumbing service, there are several things you can do to reduce the amount of root growth. Here are a few things that can be done:

#1: Get Rid of Existing Roots in Lines

With the help of your plumber, you will want to determine if roots could be a problem. Look outside of your home. Are there trees, shrubs, or other large vegetation in the area where the water lines run from your home out to the street? If there are trees within as far as eight feet of that line, they could be the problem. Even smaller trees and shrubs can have very long and ever-growing roots.

#2: If There Is a Risk, Find Out

The next step is to find out what is happening within the pipes themselves. Your plumber can help you with this very easily by using a camera attached to a long snake. The snake, which is a wire coil system, is then moved through the pipes and sewer line. This is done from a drain access pipe in your home. It can be done throughout the entire pipeline.

Your plumbing service is looking for evidence of any cracks or holes that may have allowed roots to grow into it. If there are roots, they can clearly see where they are and what has allowed them in. This is an important step for accuracy.

#3: Deal with the Roots

Removing the roots can be a complex, but very important part of the process. It involves using various tools to help remove the material that is blocking the line. This can be done, in some cases, with a hydro cutter, a powerful tool that is able to use high speed, forceful water to clean out the lines. Another option is a powered sewer auger. Both tools work to clean out the debris throughout the line. This will remove the roots, but it does not always kill them.

For that, you may need a plumbing service to offer other suggestions, such as chemicals that are effective at stopping root growth. This can be highly effective in most cases, especially if the pipe is in relatively good condition. You want to ensure that there is some action to prevent re-growth. Most chemical products like this will only work for two to three years before requiring more advanced help.

#4: Repair the Pipe Through a Plumbing Service

There are some situations in which you need to repair the pipe itself. If the damage is significant, this is an important step in ensuring the pipes continue to operate as they should. Repairing the sewer may require digging up the line. However, there are no-dig methods that can work as well – and these tend to be far less expensive. Your plumbing service can help you determine if these are effective solutions.

#5: Keep Preventative Maintenance Going

Your plumbing service will give you some specifics about how to maintain the flow of these lines. This may include a jetting of the lines every year. If the problem has been extensive, then doing this more often may prove to be valuable to you. Prevention will keep roots from entering back into the line and help to remove debris that naturally builds up along the interior walls of the sewer pipes, which can also add more damage and increase the risk of line breaks over time.

Roots Do Not Have to Be Your Problem: Get Help from a Plumbing Service

If you suspect you have a root problem, or wish to get an inspection to better prepare before planting any trees or vegetation around your property and prevent future problems, call bluefrog Plumbing + Drain. We provide a comprehensive plumbing service to inspect and then handle any pluming needs. Call us today to get to the root of your current problem or prevent future hassles.

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