Your Pipes Versus Tree Roots

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Of the many obvious dangers to your pipes, most of them come from inside the pipes. If you flush hard objects, fat, paper towels, or anything else that can clog a pipe, you could have a problem. A major danger comes from outside of the pipes, though; that danger is tree roots.

Tree Root Dangers

Tree roots are very slow-moving but they are very persistent. Pipes and septic tanks that are underground are in danger of a tree’s roots. The roots will grow over the course of years. They’ll slowly wrap around the pipes or septic tank. As the tree grows, the roots will throw thicker and thicker, creating a tighter and tighter squeeze on the pipes. Eventually, they’ll grow thick enough that they damage the pipes. In some cases, they’ll compress the metal of the pipe until water no longer flows freely. In other cases, they’ll actually just break the pipes. Oftentimes, you won’t even notice that you have a problem until sewage starts flooding your backyard.

Recognizing The Dangers

A general rule of thumb is that roots will grow as wide as the branches of the tree. So, if the branches of a tree hang over a septic tank or pipes, the roots might be burrowing into them underground.

So, what can you do about it? First, you should call a plumber to inspect your pipes. It could be that the pipes are deep enough that they’ll be unaffected by tree roots. It’s also possible that the tree is a type that doesn’t have a wide root spread.

Depending on the nature of the problem, the professionals will respond in different ways. If the roots are worming their way into the pipes themselves, a problem common to clay pipes, then they’ll likely bore out the pipes to clear the roots. If the pipes are crushed or cracked by the roots, they’ll likely cut the roots and replace the pipes. They might also coat the pipes in something that kills roots. It won’t kill the entire tree, but the roots will die when they come into contact with the pipes.

The pipes can also be coated in cement to prevent the roots from breaking through. This has been popular for years with commercial lines and has just begun to be used for residential lines.

These are a few of the options you have to remedy pipes endangered by tree roots. The first step is calling a professional.


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