Signs that tree roots are infiltrating your pipes

If your yard features sprawling trees, it’s likely you keep them regularly maintained, trimming branches to keep them clear of your gutters and power lines. But what goes unseen under the ground can spell trouble for your pipes, and for your wallet!

Tree root intrusion is one of the most common plumbing issues we’re called in to sort out at Nuflow, particularly over summer. We’ve put together some handy info to help you spot the signs that you might have tree roots growing in your pipes.  

Why is tree root infiltration so common?

Tree roots by nature seek out damp, fertile soil. If your pipes have even the tiniest of cracks, or have any leaks, they’ll create the perfect conditions for tree roots – particularly if the cracks are in your sewer pipe, where there’s prime fertilizer for plants!

In the summer months, trees and plants are even more active in their search for water, as they need more water than usual to combat the Aussie heat. This is the time of year our phones start ringing, and when we do the most pipe repairs due to tree roots in pipes.

Why are tree roots a problem for your plumbing?

When your favourite fig tree goes through a growth spurt and has a run in with one of your pipes, it can quickly take over and create a blocked sewer or stormwater system.

Pipe blockages caused by tree roots are notoriously difficult to treat, because even when the roots are cut up and removed, they tend to keep on growing back. If you are in this situation, it likely means you’ll be faced with the choice of replacing or relining your pipes so there aren’t any cracks for the tree roots to get into – or, removing the problem tree completely.

How to tell if there are tree roots in your pipes

As something that happens below the surface of your lawn, in most cases it probably won’t be immediately obvious that there are tree roots in your pipes. Here are a few of the telltale signs that your pipes could have roots growing in them.

1. Your sinks are slow to drain, and make a gurgling sound

You might be a pipe perfectionist, taking great care of your pipes and making sure that everyone in your household knows exactly what can and can’t be flushed down the loo. You might have done everything right, and installed hair snares in the bathroom and sink strainers in the kitchen. But if, despite all your efforts, you’re still finding that your pipes are making some creative noises, and are slow to drain, it may be that your backyard vegetation is the root of your pipe woes.

2. There are soft sinkholes appearing in your yard

Are there some soft or spongy spots in your yard? These could be a sign that there is a partially or completely collapsed pipe underfoot, which in many cases is caused by tree roots invading your plumbing system.

3. Your lawn has unexpected green patches

If your lawn has come out in some green and luscious patches, or if your tree is looking particularly bushy and healthy even when it’s been dry and hot, this probably isn’t just good luck. When tree roots break into sewer lines, the natural fertilizer can cause your grass and plants to grow rapidly.

So, what can you do about it?

If you suspect your thirsty trees are invading your pipes, the only way to find out for sure is to send a drain inspection camera down. If it turns out that tree root infiltration is your plumbing diagnosis, this can be a notoriously tough blockage to remove. Trees literally take root in your drain, and create pressure that causes even more cracks over time.

Here are a few ways to deal with tree roots in your pipes.

Root killer for drains

There are some chemical solutions that are made for killing roots, which can stop further growth of tree roots in your pipe system.

Poisoning and removing the tree

Another option is to go straight to the source of the tree root intrusion, and remove the offending fauna. In some cases, it may be that a neighbour’s tree is causing your plumbing dramas, which means this may not be possible.

Pipe repair with pipe relining

With our pipe relining method being a jointless technology, we can seal off your pipes from the inside with a tough epoxy solution that is strong enough to keep tree roots out, without digging.

Fix it once with Nuflow

Over summer, tree roots are especially thirsty, seeking out water and nutrients that are abundant in your pipes. Talk to your local Nuflow team today to organise a CCTV drain inspection of your pipe system, and spot any roots growing in your pipes.   

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