Trees have a way of adding to the beauty of a home. They also provide shade on sunny days and contribute in protecting the environment. However, trees — more specifically their roots — can be a real pain when plumbing is concerned. So what have roots really got to do with sewer pipes and what can be done about them?
Tree Roots and Sewer Pipes
The waste water passed out of your home through your sewer pipe is one great soup which plants will desire to have a taste of. Little wonder then that trees extend their roots toward sewer pipes in search of nutrients. The existence of a loose joint or crack is the factor responsible for attracting these roots toward a pipe, as this is where water vapour escapes. Roots then try to gain entrance into the affected pipe through the opening created by a crack or loose joint. This problem is common with clay or cast iron pipes. Failure to act on time will allow the roots to populate your pipe, causing significant obstruction in there in the process. The pressure exerted on your sewer pipe by the roots can cause the pipe to give way and collapse. A drain that flows slowly could be an early sign of problem.
How to Prevent Roots from Entering Your Sewer Pipe
There are some steps that can be taken to prevent the problems of tree roots in sewer pipes. Below are few of them.
1. Determine pipe location – It is advisable to ensure you know where your sewer pipe is located before you plant any tree. You could get in touch with relevant authorities such as the public works department in your area for guidance on where utility lines are located around your home. Trees should ideally be planted at least about 10 feet away from sewer lines.
2. Plant slow-growing trees – If you must plant a tree close to your sewer line, make it a slow-growing type. Larger trees should be planted farther away from the line.
3. Guard sewer pipe – You can also take other measures to protect your sewer pipe from tree roots. This may only require you to set vertical barriers of wood or metal on either side of your pipe. Potassium hydroxide, copper sulphate and other slow-release chemicals can also be applied near the line to help retard the growth of tree roots.
What to do When You Think You Have a Tree Root Problem
A video inspection is advised to help determine more specifically the cause of the problem in your sewer pipe. You can do this inspection by yourself if you have the right tools, which is unlikely. This leaves you with hiring a professional plumber to do the inspection for you. Some recommendations on actions to take will be made to you based on what comes up during video inspection. Solutions to root infestation in sewer lines include application of root-killing chemicals, use of a hydro jetter or mechanical root cutting.
It is important to take timely steps to prevent problems of tree roots in sewer pipes. Time should not be wasted to have a video inspection of your drain done once you start to notice that drains are flowing slowly. This helps to rule out or deal with tree roots issues on time.