If you have trees on your property or near your home, you may be prone to plumbing problems caused by tree roots. Root cutting is a specialist area of plumbing and drainage that the team at Sumich Plumbing & Drainage can help with, so let’s take a closer look at how tree roots can interfere with your plumbing – and what you can do about it.

How do you know if tree roots are affecting your plumbing?

In actual fact, tree roots usually affect your drainage – the wastewater that flows out of your home. As they tend to block or damage drainage pipes or sewer lines, there are two obvious signs that tree roots might be interfering with your pipes.

  1. You notice a foul smell around your home. If your drainage pipes are blocked, or wastewater is not flowing freely, you’ll probably notice a bad smell – perhaps a sulphur or rotten egg smell.
  2. You notice your sinks or shower are draining quite slowly, or you have clogged drains. If you feel like you’ve tried everything to clear the drains, but the water is still draining very slowly, it may be a drainage problem outside caused by tree roots.

How and why do tree roots damage pipes?

The roots of a tree can grow to be two or three times as long as the height of the tree itself, depending on the age of the tree. So if there are old or large trees close to your home, chances are there is a wide network of tree roots underneath the ground. When we see tree roots at the base of a tree, they’re usually only a small portion of the entire root system of that tree.

Tree roots tend to grow towards underground pipes because they are living organisms and are attracted to moisture and/or organic waste. If there are seams in the pipes, there will likely be a small amount of moisture that seeps out. If your pipes are old or damaged, there may be quite a bit of moisture that leaks out. Once tree roots get into a damaged pipe, they make the problem even worse.

What can you do if there are tree roots in your pipes?

The easiest thing to do is to have a look inside the pipes. This, obviously, isn’t something you can do from your vantage point standing in your garden. The Sumich team can come over and investigate by doing a video drain inspection.

We use our specialist closed circuit (CC) drain camera to inspect the drains, pipelines, sewer and stormwater lines outside or underneath your property. We run a camera into the drainpipes in order to assess the cause of drain blockages and determine the next steps.

How do you remove tree roots from pipes or sewer lines?

At Sumich we use two main methods to clear away tree roots. If our video footage shows just the start of tree root invasion or relatively mild tree root intrusion, we can often clear the pipes using hydro jet drain clearing.

Sometimes also called hydro jetting or hydro blasting, this is a method of using high-pressure water and specialist hydro jet drain clearing machinery to clear debris from the inside of the pipes. Hydro jetting is a safe method of clearing blockages and because it uses only water, without chemicals, it is environmentally friendly to the surrounding vegetation.

If the tree roots are too large or too ingrained to be removed using high-pressure water, we can remove them with our specialist root cutting bladed machinery. Our trained staff will use our drain root cutter to remove the roots and any other debris, taking care to protect the surrounding vegetation.

How do you prevent tree roots from entering your pipes and drainage?

  1. If you’re building a new home, first find out where the existing tree roots are. If there are beautiful old trees on the section that you want to keep and incorporate into your landscaping, bear in mind that they will likely have a large, established root system lying beneath the surface. Make sure your builder or landscaper does a thorough job of working around the roots and takes into consideration future growth of the trees.
  2. If you’re buying or moving into an existing home that has large or old trees near it, take a look at the plans to see where the sewage lines and drainage pipes are. The Land Information Memorandum (LIM) report will show where the private and public stormwater and sewerage drains are. Taking a look before tree roots become an issue is always an easier and cheaper way to go.
  3. Have an inspection done of your property. Again, prevention is always better than repairing damaged pipes or sewer lines. So if you have trees on your property and want to avoid issues with tree roots, get in touch and we can help map out where your plumbing lines are and where there are access points to the sewage system. We can often tell just by looking at the trees on your section where there may be tree roots that will interfere with your plumbing.
  4. Before you plant, carefully consider what kind of trees you want. You might think about the size of the trees you’re planting in regard to shade and privacy. But it’s also important to consider how much space the trees need below the surface. If this isn’t your area of expertise, consult with a professional gardener or landscaper and find out if there will be enough room for roots to expand as your trees grow. Don’t just think about how the trees fit on your section now – consider how much room they’ll need both above and below ground as they grow.
  5. Have some root maintenance work done before those tree roots become bigger problems. We can do a CCTV investigation, look for any damaged pipes, or clear away smaller debris that might attract tree root growth or intrusion. This is the best way to both prevent larger problems as well as protect those trees before root cutting becomes necessary.

Feel free to get in touch with us for a free quote* excluding roofing on root cutting or help with any other plumbing or drainage needs.