How tree roots could be impacting your plumbing

Unsure why your toilet is clogged or your sewage system is damaged? It could be coming from your backyard. With summer in our midst, it’s important to keep an eye out on your greenery and those mature trees you might have. Yes, trees can damage your plumbing system and result in property damage costs you should not have to pay. Uncontrolled roots can be the source of your sewer line that will need the appropriate measures from professional plumbers to solve and prevent further damage. If you do have root overgrowth to your line, you don’t need to cut that tree down!

Tree roots growing into your sewer lines can arguably be the most damaging exterior plumbing problem to your home resulting in:

  • Damage to the internal structure of your home
  • Sewer backups and overflow
  • Oversaturated grass and water waste pooling 
  • Nasty odours from your yard because of breakage
  • Sewage pouring into the soil and leaks
  • Clean water contamination

How does this happen?

Plants such as trees and shrubs are always thirsty and will travel long distances to seek water, as well as to find an ideal water source. They will pick favorable environments for continued growth, which can include underground sewer lines that are cooler than the surrounding soil. Their roots will then charge through the power line on its way to a water source, or maintain root growth here because of the moisture condensation around the pipeline. This process of penetration is called root intrusion, and if left untreated will fill up your pipeline completely, backing up your sewer line into your home.   

Why are tree roots a threat to plumbing?

If you have an older property, chances are your older pipes more than 25 years old will not be able to withstand the roots’ force. They usually use iron piping or clay. Iron piping is quite roots resistant, but is more prone to corrosion and will end up letting roots in. Clay pipes, on the other hand, are prone to cracks and will let in roots easier. Almost no pipes are safe from roots, as they are even able to penetrate newer pipes made out of plastic and metal. 

Tree roots can essentially enter your lines through:

  • Degrading seals
  • Leaking and blockages 
  • Dislodged joints
  • Previous plumbing damages

Any leaking, toilet making gurgling sounds, drain backups and slow drains might be a signal that you have roots infestation. However, there are a few evident warning signs that might help stop the harm of a spread.

Untamed Grass

When roots start to penetrate your plumbing line, you will experience unusual grass growth. When the soil surrounding becomes saturated with sewage and water, the remaining plant life will also flourish. Take a walk around the areas that are unusually lush; feel if the ground is spongy, wet, and soft. Plumbing lines near a tree’s trunk won’t necessarily be the source of the broken sewer line. Be mindful of the lines even out of a tree’s distance, as they don’t tend to penetrate lines directly at the trunk. 

Foul Smells

You will begin to smell foul odours such as rotten eggs or sulfur coming from your back or front yard. If the roots have broken a sewer pipe nearest to your home, you can even smell the gases indoors (especially if you’re also experiencing drain backups). This is because trees reach your sewer line, which is deep underground. When it is broken, the sewage will seep up into the grass and saturate it – with the water waste and the smell. 

Poor Drainage

Root damage will most likely affect your washroom first. Do you notice your toilet taking longer or needs several attempts to flush fully down? Does your tub have a harder time draining or flowing at a slower rate? Even if the cause is not tree roots, poor drainage indoors, will mean a broken line or clogged sewer. If you suspect problems with your drain or sewer line, be sure to contact a professional plumber for an inspection and a quote for a repair. 

How to get rid of the roots

Ideally, proper and regularly scheduled maintenance to your plumbing system will reduce the risk of tree roots ever damaging your lines. When you call an experienced plumbing company to inspect the lines, you can trust them to discover the source of the problem and expect preventative measures to avoid the issue from recurring. 

  • They will let you know the best place to plant your trees and shrubs at a safe distance
  • The type of tree species that will not cause harm to your pipes 
  • Using and substituting damaged pipes to PVC, as they are flexible and less susceptible to cracking which is the leading cause of pipe damage from roots
  • Providing necessary replacements to fast-growing trees every 8 to 10 years

Sewer camera inspection

One of the most effective ways to assess plumbing for deterioration and root damage is a non-evasive camera and video inspection. Depending on what they find, your plumber will recommend the appropriate measures to solve the issue, either replacing the sewer lines entirely or using a tree root killer or treatment. This can also determine whether a drill machine, rodding machine, jetters, or winches are also needed.

Manual removal

A licensed professional will be able to cut the roots with an auger. This will clear the pipe of existing growth to have your sewer line functioning as normal. It’s recommended to have this properly maintained and checked to avoid further concern. A combination of root control procedures can consist of non-chemical methods, physical control, re-routing the lines, and chemical herbicides that kill the roots.

Hydro jetting

A more effective (and expensive) method of removal is through the process of high pressure hydro jetting, in which a professional will blast the roots through extremely powerful water force that is fed through the main line. This method will last longer than using an auger and cleans out the pipe more thoroughly

Control measures

This, in combination with physical control methods, are the continued preventative measures that will reduce root growth. A chemical tree root killer will foam up when in contact with water and infiltrate the roots and leaves, killing them and leaving the residue on the pipe to prevent further spread and root development. This is the most effective after hydro jetting, as it removes growth at the first sign of contact with the root cut and open.

Be sure to constantly check your main sewer drain and plumbing every 18 to 24 months, ideally in the spring. Contact an expert like those with Plumber Toronto Pro to inspect your concerns effectively and efficiently. We will help locate your damaged sewer line and provide the best value to any repairs needed. You deserve to have great plumbing and a living space that is secure and problem-free all year long.

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Plumber Toronto Pro is known for comprehensive plumbing in Greater Toronto Area for both residential and commercial customers. We are always here when you need us with 24-hour availability, 7 days a week.