Are Tree Roots Damaging My Water Line?

09/29/2021
Water line

Did you know that your trees and landscaping may actually be a danger to your plumbing system? Tree roots are designed to travel and grow towards water and nutrient sources that they need to survive. Depending on the size of the tree and the quality of the soil, a tree’s roots can grow as far as 20 feet. If a tree is struggling to supply itself with a sufficient amount of water and/or nutrients, their roots can travel great distances to find what they need to survive. That being said, since your trees are built to seek out water, they may be drawn to moisture escaping from small cracks, holes, or poorly sealed joints in your water line or sewer line. As the roots seek out the water within your water line, they can often grow through, or penetrate the line, causing extensive damage.

Water line damageBelieve it or not, tree roots are a very common source of water line damages that cause blockages, or flooding in a yard.

Have you ever seen a driveway, or concrete sidewalk buckle or crack due to pressure from roots? Consider the extreme power of roots to be able to penetrate such a hard surface. If your home is more than 25 years old, there is a good chance that your pipes are steel. Steel pipes are susceptible to corrosion. Clay pipes are another popular pipe material for older homes, which are also easily penetrated. Newer PVC and concrete pipes are still potentially susceptible to root damage (as shown in the sidewalk/driveway example above), but damage is often less severe due to having fewer, and more tightly fitted joints, as well as being less likely to leak around the pipe. Less leakage, means a lesser chance of attracting a hungry tree.

It is not uncommon for homeowners to be unaware of where their water line or sewer line pipe is buried. Because you may not even know where the pipe is buried to begin with, understanding potential hazards is nearly impossible. When a tree’s root(s) finds the source of the moisture (your pipe), it will grow through the pipe to reach the nutrients. Once inside or through the pipe, they will continue to grow, making the opening in the pipe even larger. Typically, the roots that are growing through your pipes are hair-like, which may sound harmless, but they are quite the opposite. These hair-like roots will continue to grow and build up within your pipe, which can eventually completely block the flow of water and any other debris or tissue trying to make its way through the pipe.

Early Indicators Of A Potential Root Problem:

The above early indicators are a sign that pipes are not able to flow easily. If unmanaged, the roots can completely block the pipe. Additionally, if the tree roots grow so much that they expand the cracks in your pipe, or separate a pipe joint, they can cause a water line break. This will result in collapsing of the pipes leading to flooding.

Water burst

If your water line has burst, a trench will need to be dug to get to the pipe, and your line will need to be replaced.

What’s The Best Way To Keep Roots From Growing Into Your Pipes?

If you suspect that your water line may be backing up due to root damage, it is extremely important to contact your plumbing professional as soon as possible before the problem escalates (like a burst water line). If you are not sure where your pipes are buried, it’s important to find out so you can observe nearby trees. Kulk’s Heating & Plumbing is here to assist with water line inspection, repair, and replacement. Crisis after hours? Don’t stress we are also available 24.7 for emergency plumbing services!