Trees spend their lives fighting for resources. If you plant several trees close together, they’ll twist their trunks and branches to compete for sunlight. If you plant them right near any constant source of moisture and nutrients, their roots will grow towards it. Although trees beautify outdoor spaces, offer shade, and provide many other benefits, their efforts to flourish could impact your plumbing. Among the most moisture-rich and nutrient-dense features on your Denver, Colorado property is your home’s sewer line. Following are five ways to know whether tree roots have breached it.
1. Assess the Age and Type of Plumbing
Having tree roots enter sewer lines is hardly a new issue. Aggressive tree roots and an assortment of common weeds have been causing residential plumbing problems for decades. If you have an older, historic property, your home may have outdated clay pipes. Tree roots can grow right into clay pipes, even when these pipes remain structurally intact.
As such, people who own older homes are often advised to have these features replaced as soon as possible. If you can’t afford pipe replacement services right now, have your clay pipes regularly inspected and flushed out.
Even metal pipes aren’t impervious to tree root damage. Strong, aggressive tree roots can penetrate plastic, metal, and all other materials that are used in sewer lines. Metal and plastic pipes are most vulnerable to damage when they already have structural issues. For instance, if your pipes are cracked or leaking, nearby roots and weeds will take advantage of all accessible points of ingress.
2. Check for Sinkholes in Your Lawn
One way to determine whether or not you have a leaky pipe in your yard is by looking for sinkholes and soft spots. As wastewater seeps out of damaged pipes, the soil cover becomes increasingly muddy. Look for visible dips in the land, changes in the position of standalone landscaping features, and other indications of ground softening. If you have a gazebo, patio, or patio table that’s suddenly sitting askew, a newly formed underground leak could be the reason why.
Leaky pipes give tree roots and weeds easy access to their interiors, but they can also be the result of recent encroachment. Once pipes have been penetrated by tree roots, they’re quickly blocked by rapid growth and swelling. As well-nourished tree roots expand, pipes sustain additional structural damage, and even more, leaks are formed.
3. Be on the Lookout for Slow-moving Drains
In the interior of your home, it’s important to pay careful attention to slow-moving drains. It’s common to assume that a sluggish drain is simply dirty or blocked by hair or other physical obstructions. However, when every drain in the home takes a long time to empty, this is a sign that the outflow of wastewater is being hindered. Blockages caused by tree roots make it necessary for both effluent and solid waste to travel through an increasingly narrow channel.
When you notice that multiple drains are moving slowly, give us a call right away. If solid waste ever gets snagged on any of the fast-developing blockages, wastewater could stop moving entirely. In time, this could result in you having black water back up into your home. When this occurs, raw sewage and the dangerous biological and chemical contaminants that it contains will fill your plumbing fixtures.
4. Listen for Gurgling or Bubbling Sounds in Your Pipes
Gurgling and bubbling sounds are yet another indication that tree roots or aggressive weeds have entered the pipes on your property’s exterior. These can occur shortly after you’ve used a plumbing fixture, such as your kitchen or bathroom sink, your toilet, or your tub.
With wastewater moving at a slower pace, these noises can be heard just as water is flowing through blocked areas and the air is displaced. If the flow of wastewater is exceedingly slow, it could be minutes or even hours after a drain is used before these noises are heard.
5. A Rotten-egg Smell May Indicate Sewer Damage
Sewer damage caused by invasive tree roots can also fill your home with a rotten egg smell. This is a sure sign that wastewater is no longer moving and that sewer gases are escaping. You might encounter this odor in your yard, or you may notice it coming from your drains. In either case, you should call a plumber right away.
What Not to Do
Many years ago, homeowners attempted to self-treat developing problems with tree roots by flushing root and weed killers down their toilets. It was believed that these solutions would eat through and kill invasive growths before total blockages were formed.
Unfortunately, at best, many of these products only serve as a very short-term solution. Moreover, once they reach the sewer main, they’ll contaminate the local water supply. There are far more ethical and environmentally friendly ways to deal with this issue, and there are a number of professional-grade herbicides that are infinitely more effective. In most cases, masses of tree roots must be physically removed first.
Different Options in Tree Root Removal
Hydro-cutters and power sewer augers are the two most commonly used tools in tree root removal. The good news is that neither of these two equipment types requires digging or pipe replacement. Each can be extended down into the affected pipe and used to either flush out and break down tree roots or to cut right through them. Various “no dig” processes and technologies make it possible to resolve this issue without disturbing the local landscaping and without spending a veritable fortune.
In some instances, plumbers might additionally apply special herbicides. Unlike the weed and root killers that are commonly found in local hardware stores, these are products that adhere to tree roots and to the interior of pipe walls. They’re an excellent preventative measure for ensuring that any remaining root structures don’t regrow after root extraction is completed.
How to Keep Tree Roots From Entering Your Pipes
If you have an older home and have yet to replace its dated clay pipes, taking care of this project is the best form of prevention that you can invest in. If you have older metal or plastic pipes on your home’s exterior, these should be checked for leaks and repaired or replaced as needed. Aging, leaking pipes attract invasive growths by loading the surrounding soils with nutrient-dense materials and excess moisture.
It’s also a good idea to note the areas in which tree roots and underground plumbing intersect. You can identify the location of your sewer line by looking for the black ABS or white PVC clean-out caps in your yard. You should have one clean-out cap relatively close to your home’s foundation and another that’s within 10 to 13 feet of the curb. Once you’ve found them, verify the location and distance of nearby trees, and monitor the ground for increases in moisture, sinkholes, and other signs of underground pipe damage. During your yearly plumbing inspections, make sure that our plumbers inspect these areas as well.
We’re committed to helping our clients save money and keep their homes protected in Denver and all of the surrounding counties. We offer water heaters, tankless water heaters, and plumbing installation and repair services. We also provide drain cleaning, hydro-jetting, and video camera inspections. If the trees on your property have encroached on your plumbing, give High 5 Plumbing a call.