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pipe broken by tree root

How Tree Roots Can Damage Your Plumbing

Tree roots growing into a home’s plumbing system is a common problem faced by homeowners. Trees obtain nutrients by sending out feeder roots that can be twice as long as the tree canopy’s diameter. These roots are attracted to any water and organic waste seeping out of any cracks in a home’s sewer lines. Once they intrude into the pipe, homeowners can be in for a long and expensive ordeal.

What types of pipes are vulnerable?

The types of pipes commonly used for home plumbing systems are all vulnerable to tree roots to differing degrees. Many older homes built prior to the 1980s have extremely vulnerable plumbing systems that use something called Orangeburg pipe, which is composed of wood fibers bound with an adhesive that is water-resistant and has been infused with liquefied coal tar pitch. Homes that use clay pipes with mortar-filled joints or concrete pipes are not as vulnerable but are still considered high risk. Most modern plumbing systems use tightly sealed pipes made of PVC or other types of plastic that aren’t as vulnerable to tree roots as older clay pipes.

How do I know if tree roots have damaged my plumbing?

One of the first signs that tree roots have invaded your plumbing is slow drainage from your sinks and bathtub. As the roots grow through the pipes, they create an obstruction that grows by collecting grease and other debris flowing through the pipe. Eventually, the pipe will be completely blocked, which could result in a nasty sewage backup in your home.

Other common signs of tree roots in your plumbing system include a gurgling noise whenever the toilet is flushed, bad smells coming from your sink or toilet, or a tree in your yard that looks unusually lush or green all of a sudden. A sinkhole in your lawn is a serious warning sign, often indicated by large puddles of water or mud and noticeable depressions in the landscape. A sinkhole indicates an advanced sewer line problem that could put the foundation of your home at risk.

How can I prevent these problems?

Active prevention is the best way to avoid sewer line problems resulting from tree roots. Every other year, have your plumbing system inspected by a licensed plumber using micro-video technology. They will visually inspect the entire interior length of the pipe for damage or evidence of tree root invasion. If signs are found, clearing and cleaning the pipes will prevent further root growth.

If you suspect that tree roots have damaged your plumbing, contact us for an evaluation today!