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Fixing and Preventing Roots in Sewer Pipes


Tree Roots – A Nightmare in Your Sewers

Like a silent assassin, tree roots are an unseen enemy. Invasive, stubborn and hard to kill, many homeowners or renters discover tree roots are in the pipes well after the damage is done.

Now, before we get too negative, this isn’t a one-sided fight. You do stand a chance against pesky tree roots in pipes.

There are solutions for clearing sewer lines or stormwater drains, while you can mitigate potential long term issues with smart planning and maintenance.

And with Mr Emergency on your side, we will take down sly root systems. Attention, prevention and professional repairs will keep your household drains safe for years to come.

The Warning Signs of a Tree Root Infestation

It’s unlikely that you will walk outside one day, look at the ground, and recognise there are tree roots in the plumbing. Due to the underground nature of things, you will have to keep an eye out for other crucial warning signs of a tree root infestation.

The main point of concern will be issues with your drains. For example, blockages and obstructions in your sewer pipes will cause drains to back up within the home. Toilets, sinks and floor drains could all be impacted.

There are several side effects of a blocked drain to be aware of. Most notably your drains will take a longer time to… well, drain. It could either pool in the sink or produce gurgling sounds as it slowly flows past obstructions.

You’ll also likely notice a strange smell because of whatever nasty clog is lurking. And while the tree roots themselves might not give off a direct odour, all the other gunk and debris will.

Outside of the home, there’s a strong chance you also have leaking sewerage or stormwater. If tree roots are in the drain, it’s because the drain is damaged, meaning water is flowing out into your soil. And depending on the depth of the pipework, it could be pooling or creating sinkholes.

Over a long period of time these issues will have a serious impact on your home. It’s why you want to act fast when you first notice something wrong with your drains and plumbing.

How To Prevent Tree Roots in Sewer Pipes

It won’t always be easy to prevent a tree root infestation. Established homes have large trees with extensive root systems, so you could be inheriting a property with issues from day one.

However, if you can start from a clean slate, there are some handy options for preventing sewer line damage. You can also work towards improving the situation if you are continuously battling blockages and drainage issues.

How To Prevent Tree Roots in Sewer Pipes

Select the Right Trees and Plants

If you have the opportunity to start fresh in your garden, plant trees and shrubs with small root systems. Or at the very least make sure you are planting trees well away from stormwater and sewer lines.

Some of the most eye-catching evergreen plants with small root systems include Rhododendrons, Hydrangeas, Agapanthus and succulents. Australian natives like Kangaroo paws, Westringia and Lilly Pilly also provide plenty of beauty.

In terms of trees, the Alstonville (a cousin of the Bougainvillea), the Crepe Myrtle, Tuckeroo tree or Bottlebrush tree provide plenty of stress-free planting. And if you’re ever daunted by the options, just chat to an expert at a local nursery and they can provide plenty of recommendations.

Install Root Barrier Systems

Root barriers are a handy way to physically prevent tree roots from encroaching on your drain systems. Whether it’s a flexible high density polyethylene membrane or a geo-textile fabric, root barrier systems can be installed around new and established trees.

Think of it like an underground fortress. The barrier is perfect for long-term security as it does not harm trees, plants or living creatures.

Upgrade your Sewer Pipes

Old ceramic pipes or cast-iron pipes are far more prone to damage and root infestation than modern PVC pipes. Therefore, preventing tree roots in sewer pipes is easy with an upgrade.

An upgrade to perfectly performing plumbing isn’t necessary, though. You only need to look into upgrades if there are recurring blockages and irreparable damage, i.e. something that cannot be fixed by pipe relining (more on that later).

A fresh plumbing installation can also be paired with additional root barriers for double the resilience.

Use Tree Root Killer

If you want to keep the tree, we do not recommend tree root killer. However, if you’re removing a tree, then a chemical herbicide is a helpful tool.

It’s the fastest and most effective way to kill tree roots – and the tree stump itself. So, once you have cut down the tree, apply the herbicide as per directions, and you’ll be one step closer to long term success.

How to Fix Roots in Pipes

What happens when the tree roots have already taken hold? How can you successfully clear a drain that’s already under siege?

There are three clear solutions that can deliver all the reassurance you need for ongoing plumbing health.

How To Fix Invasive Tree Roots

Hydrojet Drain Cleaning

If you’re looking for a clear way to fix tree roots in your sewer pipes, the perfect starting point is with a hydrojet drain clean.

Performed by a professional plumber, hydrojetting typically occurs after a drain camera inspection is conducted. The modern tool slices and dices difficult blockages with high-powered jets of water. It’s non-invasive and thorough.

Not only are tree roots cut to pieces but they’re also flushed away. The hydrojet is the perfect tool for removing tree roots in any circumstance. But there is a caveat; although it does remove tree roots, it won’t stop them from coming back.

Therefore, you need to put in place one of the above steps of prevention. Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with a recurring blockage every 4-6 months.

Pipe Relining

Paired with hydrojet drain cleaning, pipe relining will keep your sewer drains and stormwater drains safe for decades. It’s an internal barrier that can be easily inserted into existing drains without the need for digging.

Using precision and patience, your plumber will feed a durable liner covered in an epoxy resin through the damaged section of a broken pipe. The soft liner is pumped full of air, and thanks to the glue, hardens and adheres to the inside of your underground pipes.

Once dry it’s rock hard. Cracks will be filled in and you essentially have new pipes without all the fuss.

Unfortunately, there can be issues with pipe relining and tree root infestations. If the existing pipework has been severely damaged, it may not be possible to reline. Caved in sections must be replaced, while large holes are often too much for even the best possible liner.

Drainage Excavation and Replacement

If all else fails with your pesky tree roots, drainage excavation will be required. It’s the only option when there is irreparable damage in a sewer system or stormwater drain.

Drainage excavation is also a great way to put in additional barricades like a root barrier system. You can have two-fold protection with brand new materials that will repel any tree roots. It’s a thorough step forward to keep your sewers safe and sound.

Long-term protection can easily be achieved with the help of Mr Emergency. Our licensed plumbers provide professional drain clearing services, so we’ll get rid of any pesky tree root infestation.

Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work. See our Terms & Conditions here.

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