Tree Roots destroy drains

Ian Fielding
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Stormwater drains are critical to the plumbing system. There function is to take rainwater from the home, out to the main street or easement. Consequently, this usually means that the stormwater drains are laid in the yard outside. As most gardens are bordered by trees, this can cause some unexpected problems. Unfortunately, tree roots can do a lot of damage. In fact, tree roots destroy drains.

New storm water installation due to tree root damage

Similarly, as the pipes are hidden underground, usually the issue will not be apparent until there is significant blockage. This house in Atherton required a complete new storm water system due to root infiltration.

What attracts tree roots to drains?

Solid tree root found inside a storm water drain

This tree root was removed from the inside of the storm water drain. It had completely blocked the pipe.
Tree roots are initially attracted to the condensation on the sewer or storm water pipe. Once the have located the source of the water, the roots are powerful enough to penetrate the pipes.

There are two ways tree roots block drains. For example, in sewer drains in the early stages, a root is often just big enough to capture waste such as kitchen fats and food scraps. In time, more waste material that previously would have passed through the drain, builds up and eventually the drain is completely clogged. This process can happen in a few months.

Water Supply Can also be affected.

Tree roots damage underground water pipe
Tree roots even damage underground main water pipe

As water leaks can lead to hefty water bills, no water leaks are ever welcome. However, at times when the stormwater drain is destroyed by tree roots, then the water supply pipe can be impacted as well. Unfortunately, this proved to be the case in a house in Atherton. As a result, the water pipe had to be partially replaced.

How do plumbers detect blocked drains?

Understandably, rarely do people budget for unexpected plumbing bills. Often homeowners ask their plumbers for a quick fix to save money, rather than completely solving the problem. It is possible to unblock some drains using a high-pressure hydro jetter.
After unblocking the drain it is possible for a thorough investigation to be undertaken by using a CCTV diagnostic camera. The camera, located on the end of a long cable allows for a clear digital image/video showing the internal integrity of the pipe. This imagery can clearly be shown to the client, to help clear understanding of the issues to hand.

CCTV Drain Camera in Action

By using the Ridgid SeeSnake our plumbers can
1. Identify the cause
2.Find the exact location of the blockage
3. Recommend a solution

Finding the best solution and most cost-effective option is always our goal

The plumber may be able to unblock the drain, but the tree roots are still able to continue growing. Eventually, the pipe will become damaged, with the potential for further blockages to occur. Our aim is always to present a cost-effective solution, however, in some cases we may recommend replacing the pipes.

Prevention is better than cure.

 “Prevention is the best cure,” applies to plumbing maintenance problems just as much as to your health. To avoid having tree roots block your drains, below are some of the things you can do:

  • Consider replacing your pipes with PVC pipes, if the damage has already been done. Certainly, PVC pipes resist tree roots better than old clay pipes
  • If you are thinking of landscaping or building, perhaps consult an arborist before you plant trees. Some species can be planted at a safe distance from pipes while others should be avoided.
  • Whenever you have a blocked drain, always investigate with a CCTV drain camera. If a tree root is found, seriously consider replacing the pipes, and consider removing the tree before it can do further damage.

The most important thing is to do a thorough job rather than settle for a quick fix. It is a false economy to spend money on a short term, quick fix. At some point, the investment will have to be made into a lasting solution.
Call us for free advice.