It’s a blessed thing to have a big tree in your yard. It provides shade and they provide a beautiful presence. Sometimes, they can pose problems, like falling limbs that are big and heavy — how many windshields have shattered because a car was parked under a tree during a bad wind or lightening storm?
But actually, another danger that gets less attention is the roots underneath the ground, as they can crack through your home’s plumbing system, a costly and aggravating problem to fix. It’s also harder to spot than a big branch that could break.
How Do Roots Get Into the Pipes?
Sometimes pipes leak, and when they do, roots from nearby trees may get drawn towards the water. If the pipes are so attracted to the water, they could begin to penetrate the pipe and grow inside and outside the pipe.
At this stage, roots have even been known to show up in drains and, incredibly, toilet bowls.
Clay pipes are more susceptible to root intrusion because they are made of brittle material that can lead to cracks and leaks. Once the root has breached the pipe, they will slowly grow and create an obstruction.
Newer pipe materials such as PVC, PEX, or copper are more resistant to root intrusion.
Root Intrusion Warning Signs
There are a few symptoms of root intrusion. If you experience any combination of these signs, you may have root intrusion:
- Strong, foul odour
- Gurgling noises from the toilet
- Sewage back-up in drains
- Frequent drain clogs
Other plumbing problems could cause these to appear, too. To identify the problem correctly, there are professional drain services in Toronto that use a tiny high-def video camera to determine the cause of the blockage, and pinpoint the exact location. Call them!
How to Fix Root Intrusion?
Even if you were to cut the tree down altogether, it’s the root system underneath that poses the problem. Professional plumbers can determine whether or not you’re experiencing root intrusion, then dig up the area to physically unblock the clog.
They will either repair the broken pipe if they can, or replace it if they cannot. If your pipes are old and made of clay, you may want to think about upgrading them to a material that will more strongly resist root intrusion.
Avoid the Problem in the First Place
Are you moving into a new home with no tree in the yard? If you have yet to plant a tree, opt for one that doesn’t have a system of invasive roots that are known for damaging pipes and even driveways.
Willows, elms, hybrid poplars and silver maples have deep roots. Japanese maples do not.
If you notice a problem with the drains in your home, there’s a good chance you won’t see the real cause — the underground roots. Call a professional plumber to have them inspect the pipes properly, and make any needed repairs. It’s better to address the problem early, before it develops into a crisis.