Many home buyers are drawn to shady streets with mature trees that add a lovely touch to the property and neighborhood. As lovely, and eco-friendly as they might be, trees can also wreak havoc with your property. One of the biggest threats is tree roots which can cause serious, costly damage to underground pipes. While it might seem impossible for a tree to break sewer lines, the larger the tree the more intrusive the roots. This increases the risk for pipe damage.
The Impact of Tree Growth
Trees depend on their roots to provide life-giving water and nutrients that keep them alive. As trees mature, the root systems become quite complicated, spanning a large area. Not only do they spread, but they also grow as they have to support the growth and height of the trunk and branches above. All you see is a lovely, green, and shady tree, but what lies below is not just the tree’s roots, but the sewer lines servicing your home.
How Roots Cause Sewer Line Damage
Tree roots can sense the water and oxygen coming from pipes. Since they need this to survive, they will create a path leading to the pipes. If there is a cracked pipe, the roots are even more likely to seek out the pipe’s location. Once the roots reach the pipe, they will break in through the crack. As the tree grows, the roots grow, causing more and more damage. It is not just cracked pipes that roots can damage. The force of the roots can break through pipes in good condition, causing just as much damage.
How Roots Affect Sewer Lines
Once a root enters the sewer line it leads to many issues. Not only will growth continue to crack and open the pipe, but it will also grow into the pipe leading to blockage. This is a scary thought because everything is happening underground, so you won’t know something is wrong until it becomes serious. As a result, the roots continue to grow eventually causing complete collapse of the pipe.
Signs of Root Damage on Sewer Lines
If you do have trees on your property, you should be on the lookout for signs they have broken your sewer line. An early red flag is if gargling toilers or foul smells coming from clean sinks and toilets. The sooner you speak to your Harrisonburg plumbing experts at RCG & Son Plumbing, the sooner you can confirm you have root damage. As things become more serious you might also notice the following issues:
- Structural damage to your property such as cracks in your driveway or walkways
- Sewer backups or overflows near your property
- Soggy grass or foul smelling water on your lawn
- Signs of sewage leakage from cracks in your driveway or walkways
All of these signs indicate your sewer lines are damaged and require immediate attention.
Repairing Damaged Sewer Lines
Speaking to a reputable Harrisonburg plumbing team is the first step. You want a company offering video inspection services as this is the best way to quickly discover root damage. They can pinpoint where the issue lies and how much damage has occurred. When tree roots are the problem, depending on the extent of the damage, sewer line replacement using root-resistant materials might be recommended. The roots will have to be removed and then measures taken to control the roots from causing further damage.
In some cases, it might require re-routing of the sewer line, or using herbicides to control growth. Steps to clear blockages include using special equipment to break down the roots such as drill and rodding machines and then doing a final blast using hydro-jetting equipment to wash away the debris. Once this is done, we will have a better idea of how much damage the roots have caused and make recommendations on the repairs or replacements required.
How to Prevent Broken Sewer Lines
There are a few ways to reduce the risk for broken sewer lines including:
- Consulting with the team at RCG & Son Plumbing to determine where it is safe to plant trees and shrubs
- Speaking to your local landscaping company to determine which trees have the least damaging root systems
- Identifying the trees on your property that are fast-growing and require replacement before they can cause damage
- Arranging for regular sewer line inspection and cleaning
These steps allow you to take a more proactive approach to property care which in turn reduces risk for sewer line damage.