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How Tree Roots Can Cause Drain Blockages


Tree roots can be a serious problem for your plumbing system. They can cause major blockages and costly repairs if left unchecked. Find out how you can avoid this problem and the signs of tree root infiltration in our guide!

Tree roots wreaking havoc on drain systems is a prevalent and frustrating issue many property owners face. It’s astonishing how even the tiniest pipe cracks can serve as a welcoming gateway for these persistent roots.

Once inside, they seize the opportunity to grow and thrive, wreaking havoc on the functionality of your drains. The consequences can be dire, ranging from pesky blockages to the complete rupture of your pipes. Ignoring this problem is a recipe for disaster, as it can lead to extensive structural damage, leaving you with hefty repair bills.

But don’t worry! In this blog, we will delve into how tree roots cause drain blockages and equip you with valuable knowledge on preventing them. So, let’s dig in!

Understanding Why Tree Roots Cause Drain Blockages

Tree roots are attracted to moisture; when they sense water, they naturally grow towards it.

In the case of plumbing systems, tree roots can find their way into pipes through small cracks or joints. As the roots grow, they can cause the pipes to crack or break, and the roots can enter the pipe through those openings. The roots can continue to grow and expand in the sewer lines or drains, eventually causing a complete blockage.

Tree Roots Pipes

This problem is particularly prevalent in older homes, where drain and sewer pipes may be made of clay or cast iron. These materials are more prone to root intrusion. Additionally, trees planted close to plumbing systems, like sewer lines or septic tanks, are more likely to cause blockage, especially in PVC pipes.

It would be best to remember that not all trees may cause severe damage to your pipes. Some trees, like poplar and willow, have more aggressive root systems that can cause blockages.

Signs Of Tree Root Blockages

1. Slow-Draining Water

As tree roots expand, causing a blocked drain, you may notice that your sink and shower are draining slowly. Although some chemical cleaners and homemade remedies can unclog the drains temporarily, the situation is most likely to recur.

Since one of the first signs of blocked drains from tree roots is slow drainage, you must investigate immediately.

2. Gurgling Noises From Your Drainage System

Do you often hear the sewage pipes creating a strange gurgling sound whenever you flush the toilet or empty the sink? This occurs when the water encounters an obstruction in the sewer line. And this sound usually indicates tree roots blocking the drain.

So, if you hear this type of gurgling sound, it is crucial to take immediate action before the issue escalates.

Pipe Stuck Large Tree Root

3. Low Water Pressure

A sudden decrease in the water pressure in your home might make you suspect tree roots are causing blocked drains. If you notice a reduced water flow from your taps, it could indicate tree roots blocking your drain.

In such a scenario, it’s crucial to call a professional to identify and address the root cause of the problem.

4. Foul Smell From Drain Pipe

If you detect a foul odour from your drain, tree roots may have infiltrated your sewer system. When tree roots obstruct the sewer line, they can trap waste and create an unpleasant smell. As waste accumulates at the site of the blockage, the odour can intensify over time.

5. Sudden Increase In Water Bills

If you recently received an unexpectedly high water bill, inspecting your drain pipes and sewer lines for damage caused by tree roots may be best. This is because a tree’s root system can cause cracks in the pipes, resulting in continuous water leakage. As a result, the wasted water leads to a high water bill.

6. Sinkholes In Your Yard

If your underground pipes have sustained significant damage from tree roots, you may notice soft spots or sinkholes forming in your lawn. When tree roots grow excessively within pipes, they can cause breakage, leading to water leakage into the surrounding soil.

As water continues to escape from the drains, it can form sinkholes in your yard. That’s when it becomes necessary to seek the services of a professional plumber to inspect your sewer lines.

7. Frequent Toilet Backups

If you notice your toilet backing up unusually frequently, it is a clear sign of a tree root blockage. The roots of trees can ensnare toilet paper and other substances, leading to a problematic blockage in the drainage system.

Prevention Techniques

Plumber Removing Tree Roots Stormwater

1. Plant Trees Wisely

Avoid planting trees near the plumbing pipes and choose an appropriate location accordingly.

2. Do Not Flush Non-degradable Items

Many so-called “flushable” items, like toilet paper, can block your pipes and the main sewer line by getting entangled with the tree roots in your plumbing lines. Proper disposal of items like wet wipes, feminine products, diapers, etc., is always best in a trash can.

3. Consider Using Copper Sulphate For Tree Root Removal

A bright blue salt-like crystal known as copper sulphate can often be found at home improvement stores. It is an organic herbicide that can eliminate small tree roots entering your sewer pipes. Flushing about ½ cup of crystals down the toilet should suffice. However, it’s important to note that copper sulphate is unsafe for septic systems.

4. Use Rock Salt

Like copper sulphate, rock salt can significantly impact tree roots and is safe for use in sewer tanks. But it would be best not to overdo it, as doing so can harm the trees. One treatment should be enough to eliminate tree roots in your pipes.

Permanent Solutions For Tree Root Blockages

Unfortunately, DIY tactics cannot do much to prevent tree root invasions from recurring. So, if you are experiencing a root invasion in your pipes, it’s best to seek professional help.

Professional plumbers have specialised tools, such as a hydro jet machine and a drain snake, and also offer services like pipe relining to remove roots from drain pipes and prevent future blockages effectively. Plus, they can use a CCTV drain camera to inspect the insides of your stormwater pipes and determine the exact location of the roots.

This allows them to plan and execute the best strategy for removing tree roots from your drains.

Unearthing The Solution: Mitigating Tree Root Damage In Drain Systems

Tree roots can cause severe and costly drain blockages if left unchecked. So, acting quickly and addressing any potential drain blockages caused by tree root systems is essential.

Regular maintenance and inspection of your pipes can help you avoid these issues and ensure the longevity of your drainage system. And that’s where Service First Plumbing enters the scene!

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