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Signs Tree Roots Have Grown Into Your Plumbing

tree roots in sewer pipeFor homeowners who live near a wooded area or have shrubbery on their property, it’s possible for tree roots to grow into the plumbing system – unless you take the necessary precautions.

How This Occurs

Trees have root systems far larger than their trunks and branches. In search of water and other nutrients, their feeder roots will grow out, sometimes traveling 100 feet away or more. Pipes – whether from your home or the local sewer system – are not off limits, especially if small holes dot the exterior or the seals have started to spring leaks.

Seeing the pipe as a source of water and organic waste, the tree roots grow toward it through any opening they can find. Not all materials handle this pattern equally. Older Orangeburg pipes, used until the 1980s in many communities, have posed issues with their clay bodies and mortar-secured joints.

Yet, no matter the material, tree roots growing into a pipe can restrict, if not completely block, the flow of water, leading to clogs and sewage backups in your home. Aspects like grease and other debris, when trapped by the tree’s nearly hair-thin roots, can worsen this scenario.

In other cases, particularly concerning Orangeburg pipes, the roots can choke off and crush the pipe if the problem is not addressed. Also, if the main ball of roots exists near the pipe, the pressure applied can be enough to shatter the material whenever the roots grow and expand.

Signs of Tree Roots In Your Plumbing

Before you’re dealing with a sewage backup, the following signs point to tree roots invading your home’s plumbing system:

  • Clogs: Although the water goes down, it’s often slow and typically accompanied by a gurgling sound.
  • Backups: Regular drain and toilet backups are usually a sign the pipe is completely choked off or has collapsed.
  • Sinkholes: Although these can simply be a local phenomenon, a sinkhole in your yard can indicate tree roots have cut off, if not shattered, your plumbing. At this stage, your home’s foundation may also be at risk.
  • Strong odors: If you notice a rotten egg scent outdoors, it may be traced back to clogged pipes from tree roots.

Addressing the Problem

Once you notice any of the following signs, reach out to MJ Fahy & Sons to inspect your property’s pipes and take the necessary measures to remove the roots and replace damaged sections.

To lessen your risks now and in the future, also think about:

  • Trees and shrubs you plant on your property. Those with shorter root systems are less likely to creep into and cut off your pipes. In the meantime, you may also need to remove certain trees, particularly if they’re older and have a more expansive root system.
  • Constructing a barrier. This can be done chemically, by adding copper sulfate and potassium hydroxide near the sewer lines or by constructing a metal or wooden enclosure around the pipes and sewer lines.
  • Replacing Orangeburg pipes. Especially if your property has not been updated since the early 1980s, chances are you may still have Orangeburg pipes. Made with ground cellulose and wood fibers, these pipes are more likely to attract tree roots and can deform with time. If you have Orangeburg pipes, consider replacing them with PEX or HDPE pipes for greater resistance to roots.

Video technology can be used to view the full length of your home’s plumbing system. If tree roots are spotted within its scope, MJ Fahy & Sons can take early steps to address the problem. We’ll remove the roots, patch any leaks and clean the interior so tree roots are less attracted to your plumbing system.
Concerned about roots in your home’s plumbing system? To get the professionals at MJ Fahy & Sons involved, contact us to make an appointment.