Key Information About Tree Root Intrusion and Your Pipes

Sewage and water pipes run under the soil of your yard, as do tree roots. When roots and pipes collide, the pipes are usually the ones to give way. Indeed, tree root intrusion can cause major plumbing issues, which include a sewer line clog and sewage backup into your home. Find out everything you need to know about tree root intrusion.

Cause of Tree Root Intrusion

Obviously tree roots cause intrusion, and they do so because the natural instinct for any living thing is to survive. They’re usually seeking out water and nutrients. Your plumbing supplies both the water and the nutrients of the wastewater coming from your sinks and toilets.

Tree roots can crush plumbing pipes. However, you’re more likely to have a problem with the roots sending offshoots into the pipes themselves. They worm their way into cracks or loose joints in damaged plumbing. As they grow, they create an obstruction in your pipes.

Older homes are more susceptible to tree root intrusion. One reason is that they’re more likely to have plumbing made of clay tile, cast iron, or asphalt composite, none of which are as airtight as modern plumbing materials. The roots are also more likely to intrude on pipes installed within the top 24 inches of soil.

Most Aggressive Trees for Root Intrusion

While all tree roots have the ability to damage pipes and sewer lines, some species are more aggressive than others. These species include the following:

  • Ash
  • Sweetgum
  • Poplar and cottonwood
  • Oak
  • Locus
  • Willow
  • Basswood
  • Tulip tree
  • Sycamore
  • Some maples and boxelders

Your best bet is to avoid planting these trees near your sewer system. However, if they already exist in your yard, watch for signs that they’re invading your pipes.

Detection of Tree Root Intrusion

Your first step in detecting tree root intrusion is to pay attention to your plumbing. A common sign that roots have invaded your pipes is a gurgling noise, which is the water trying to flow past the roots. Another sign is slow-moving drains.

If you suspect you have tree root intrusion, consider calling professional plumbers for help. They’ll likely perform a camera inspection. They’ll thread a camera lens attached to optic cables through the sewer cleanout. As the camera moves through the pipe, they’ll watch the monitor for signs of tree roots or other obstructions.

Home Treatment of Tree Root Intrusion

If the problem of your tree root intrusion is in the beginning stages, you might try to treat it yourself. Generally, the home remedy is to send a chemical root killer down your toilet on a timed basis. The chemical kills the roots that come into contact with your pipelines. Be aware that some products can be corrosive to your pipes.

You could also try flushing rock salt down the toilet to kill the roots. Use the road salt. Flush it down the toilet once every month or two. That method works best in the initial stages of intrusion. Note that the rock salt will only kill the roots. It does not remove them from the pipe. If you think you already have some obstruction, call Moon Valley Plumbing to have the pipe hydro jetted.

Professional Treatment of Root Intrusion

Chemicals and even salt can be harmful to your existing landscape. So, if you suspect you have tree root intrusion, a good idea is to call for a camera inspection.

Once the plumbers have verified you have root intrusion in your pipes, they might make different suggestions. One recommendation is to use an auger to bore through the roots. If your root ball is too large for an auger, Moon Valley Plumbing can use the hydro jetter to cut out the roots with high-pressure water. This process also flushes the roots out of your pipe into the city mainline. If the pipe is crushed or damaged, though, they may recommend replacement of the existing pipe.

Watch for the signs of tree root intrusion, and have the issue solved before it becomes too costly. Moon Valley Plumbing and Rooter can help you with any of your plumbing issues.