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10 Signs Tree Roots Are Growing in Pipes

Split drainage pipe caused by ingress of tree roots

Most homeowners in Texas will have trees on their property to help provide shade, especially on those hot summer days. However, while trees provide shade, they can cause problems with your home’s water and sewer pipes. If you are a property developer or invest in property through resources such as Lincoln Frost, for example, and you want to make sure your properties are safe for your residents, especially as you have money invested into these pieces of land, then you want to make sure that you have a thorough inspection of the surrounding area on occasion to see if there are any issues, like roots growing in the pipes.

When roots get in pipes, it is essential to resolve the problem sooner than later. Otherwise, you end up with more plumbing problems and repairs to fix.

How do tree roots grow in pipes?

Tree roots seek out moisture to provide water for the tree. In general, most tree root systems are about three times larger than the height of the tree. So, if you have a ten-foot-tall tree, the root system is roughly thirty feet long!

The root system also extends over a wide area under the ground to help keep the tree in place. When water leaks develop in water pipes and sewer pipes, tree roots are attracted to it. Very small parts of the tree root can grow into tiny cracks and openings in the plumbing pipes to get to the water.

As the roots get inside the pipe, they gradually become bigger and bigger. Eventually, their size can cause water and sewer pipes to become obstructed and prevent the flow of water and sewage. Most people tend to hire experts from a Tree Removal service in their area to get rid of the tree even before the roots do the damage. Once the tree has been cut down, the roots eventually die down.

People go for this option as the larger roots can cause the pipes to crack and break. Depending on whether it is your water line or sewer line that cracks and breaks, you may not notice right away, unless you know what signs to watch for that could indicate tree roots are in the pipes.

How fast do tree roots grow in sewer pipes?

All tree roots see out water, oxygen, and nutrients to help the tree thrive and grow. The roots will grow in any direction necessary, including into sewer pipes. Most tree roots grow the most from spring through fall.

How fast tree roots grow in sewer pipes is much faster than growing in the dirt. Since the roots have access to a constant supply of water, oxygen, and nutrients in the sewer line, not only will the tree thrive and look very healthy, but the root system will expand and grow much quicker.

In general, depending on the size of the sewer line, it could take anywhere from a year to three years before the roots completely clog the sewer line. The smaller the pipe’s diameter, the faster it will clog.

With water lines, the rate of growth is about the same. Initially, when tree roots first enter sewer or water pipes, most people will not notice anything until something goes wrong with their home’s plumbing.

What signs should homeowners watch out for?

young woman checking faucet while having problem with dropping faucet in kitchen

Sign #1: Strange Odors

If you notice strange odors coming from drain lines, it might indicate a tree root problem. However, it could also indicate there is yucky stuff inside the drain pipes that just need a professional drain cleaning to remove.

Sign #2: Water drains away slowly.

Slowly draining drains could indicate tree roots in the sewer lines. Yet again, it could also be a problem that requires a drain cleaning service to clean away accumulated deposits inside the drain pipes.

Sign #3: Toilets have lost their “oomph.”

When you flush the toilet and the water seems not to go down as powerfully as it used to, it might indicate that tree roots are growing inside sewer pipes. A clog could also be developing if you flushed down items you shouldn’t have in the toilet like paper towels, tissues, or baby wipes.

Sign #4: You hear gurgling coming from drains or toilets.

When water is draining down one drain line, you might notice gurgling sounds coming from other drains in the home or the toilets. You might also hear these sounds when you flush a toilet.

Sign #5: Toilets back up when flushed.

When you flush the toilet, it could back up, or other toilets in the home could back up if there are tree roots in your sewer line.

Sign #6: Your water bill increases unexpectedly.

If you notice your water bill is increasing, yet you are not using any more water than usual, this could indicate tree roots have grown into your main water line. However, this sign could indicate there are water leaks as well.

Sign #7: You notice parts of your yard are sinking into the ground.

Leaks from sewer and water lines when tree roots have damaged them can cause the ground to become overly saturated with moisture. Eventually, the weight of the wet soil causes it to sink into the ground.

Sign #8: You notice certain trees are growing more quickly than other trees in your yard.

If a few of the trees on your property look greener and have a lot more new growth than others, this often indicates that they have found a steady source of water, typically from sewer or water lines.

Sign #9: You notice a drop in water pressure.

Water pressure will not drop unless there is an obstruction of some sort. When tree roots grow into water supply lines, the blockage will cause water pressure to drop.

Sign #10: You notice pipes are making a banging noise or whistling noise.

When you turn on the water, flush the toilet, or drain the tub or a sink full of water and hear banging noises or whistling noises, this could indicate the water pipe or sewer pipe has been cracked or crushed, allowing air to flow into the pipe.

Tree Roots in Pipes Removal

service man, plumber or electric

Several different tree roots pipe removal options are available, depending on the extent of the problem, as follows:

Sewer Root Removal

Small tree roots can be removed using a special pipe auger that cuts the roots away and clears the clog from the sewer pipe or water pipe. However, this is a temporary solution to the problem. The same leaks and cracks that allowed the tree roots inside the pipe will remain. So, the problem will return again.

Sewer Pipe Lining

Sewer pipe lining is a more permanent solution to tree roots in pipe problems. The tree roots are removed first using sewer root removal processes. Once the roots are gone, a pipe lining is inserted inside the existing pipe. Even though there are cracks and leaks in the original pipe, the new pipe lining blocks those to prevent tree roots from returning.

Sewer Pipe Bursting

Sewer pipe bursting is another minimally invasive way to fix sewer and water lines that tree roots have invaded. This method is also a permanent solution that is better to use when the pipes have extensive cracking and breaking.

The new sewer pipe is connected to a winch. A special pointed-head is put on one end of the new pipe. It is then pulled through the existing line, clearing out the tree roots and damaged sections to create a new section of pipe fitted to the existing sewer or water line.

Sewer Line Replacement

The final option to eliminate tree roots from water and sewer lines is to replace the existing pipe with a new one. This process requires digging up larger sections of the yard to have full access to the sewer line or water line.

The old sewer line or water is removed from the ground, along with the tree roots in the pipes. Next, a new section of sewer line is installed and connected on both ends to the existing line. Sewer line replacement is also a permanent solution to tree root problems.

To determine which tree root pipe removal option is best, a camera inspection should be performed first. Camera inspections help determine where the obstructions are located. They allow you to find out if tree roots are the problem or if you simply need a professional drain cleaning service instead.

If you suspect tree roots might be growing into your water and sewer pipes, you will want to contact Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing to schedule a camera inspection as soon as possible.

After we conduct the inspection, we will advise on the problem and make recommendations on how to resolve it. Please feel free to call us at 512-246-5400 to schedule an appointment today! We can also take care of your other plumbing or air conditioning problems in New Braunfels, Temple, San Antonio, or the Austin Metro Area.

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