You may love that tree outside, but have you considered the potential dangers it poses? Not just to your roof and vehicles, but to your plumbing system as well? Roots and pipes do not get along very well. They are both competing for space underground. However, roots have the advantage as they are constantly growing and typically much stronger.
You may not necessarily need to cut the tree down entirely. It’s simply important that you know the risks, know the signs of damage from roots, know how to mitigate the risks, and know what to do if disaster should strike. All of these concepts will be tackled in more detail below. Let’s start with the risks that roots pose and exactly how they cause so much damage.
The Risks And Dangers Of Roots.
Roots are large, powerful, and thirsty. You may think that plants have no brains, yet roots always seem to find a way to grow towards sources of water. If your home is located on the banks of a creek, then the roots from nearby trees will tend to grow towards the creek bank.
What’s even more interesting is that they seem to know what’s inside of those pipes running into your home. When tree roots and plumbing pipes carrying water are in a close proximity, the roots tend to grow towards the pipes beneath the surface of the ground. It’s certainly not a quick procedure. It takes place gradually over time.
Sooner or later, though, those roots reach the pipes. They didn’t travel all of that distance for no reason at all. The roots want the water inside of the pipes. The roots can begin to grow around the pipes and eventually break the pipes and spread inside. This is a risk with any tree, but the risk is particularly high when dealing with willows, maples, and aspens.
Of course, it’s not by some magic that the trees know of the water inside the pipes. In most places, drain field pipes are perforated. This is considered safer and more hygienic for the home. It allows for some separation of wastewater from the main water supply. It also increases the moisture in the soil around the pipes. It is this moisture that often attracts thirsty, growing roots.
There are some other ways in which moisture can escape from the pipes and attract tree roots. If the joints of connecting pipes are too loose, then some moisture will escape at those joints. You can rest assured that any nearby tree will eventually detect the increased moisture and its roots will grow in that direction.
A cracked pipe can have a similar result. A hairline crack in an underground pipe is nearly impossible to detect. At worst, it might result in a slight loss of water pressure or an increased water bill. Roots, on the other hand, have a much easier time detecting that crack. It only takes a very small crack to attract the roots of a young tree.
Prevention And Care.
As with any serious problem, the best solution is always to prevent it from occurring in the first place. This isn’t a particularly easy problem to prevent if you have a lawn with a lot of trees. Even cutting the trees down won’t always solve the problem, especially if the roots are already starting to break through the pipes.
However, though it may be difficult, preventing this problem from occurring is not impossible. It just takes a bit of preparation and know-how. You first need to find the location of your plumbing laterals and sewer clean out pipes. If you don’t know how to find these pipes then you may need to contact a local public works department. The following preventive steps will differ according to your landscape.
If you don’t have any trees in your lawn, then you are in luck. All you need to do is plan your landscaping so that nothing is planted near the locations of the pipes. If you are planting a tree with a strong root system, put it as far away from the pipes as possible. There are some trees and plants that are considered “pipe friendly”. Plant these near your pipes if you must or simply avoid planting anything in that area.
You can also create something that is known as a “chemical barrier” between the pipes and the root system of the nearest trees. Certain slow-release chemicals, such as copper sulfate potassium hydroxide, can be used beneath the surface of the ground to kill any roots that make their way towards the pipes.
Finally, the best preventative step you can take if there are already nearby trees is to have the pipes cleaned and inspected on a regular basis. This must be performed by a professional plumber. If the plumber discovers nearby roots or a breakage in the pipes, then they can take the necessary steps to kill the roots and repair the pipes.
Removing an existing root system is no easy task, but it is something that plumbers are trained to do. If you suspect that roots have already damaged your pipes, then the first thing you want to do is contact a local plumber. They will come to your home and inspect the problem themselves.
For simple problems, they can apply chemicals to the ground and beneath the surface. These chemicals will kill the roots and stop further growth. Any damage to the pipes will need to be fixed. You may then be advised to remove the tree or to take further preventative steps.
Depending on the severity of the problem, you may need to have large portions of your plumbing system replaced entirely. It’s never a simple or cheap job, but it’s something that must be done once the roots have broken through the pipes.
If you want to avoid the headache and expense of repairing the pipes, then simply work with a plumber on a regular basis to inspect and clean the pipes. Two or three times a year should be enough to keep your pipes clean and healthy.
Certified Plumbing has a maintenance program for customers that need regularly scheduled maintenance drain cleaning to avoid problems before they occur. Call and ask to be put on our maintenance program.