Mature trees add shade and beauty to landscapes. They also act as windbreakers, shielding buildings and other property from wind damage. However, their root systems can cause huge damage to drainage pipes. In fact, tree roots are one of the main common causes of drain damage, deterioration, and blockage. Most people fail to identify any issues in their early stages or even ignore them until they become a major problem. When this happens, a full overhaul of the drainage system maybe be required. The good news is that these problems can be prevented and corrected, using proper knowledge and professional drain services. This article is specifically about tree intrusion causing blocked drains, click the link to learn more about more general drain cleaning issues and how to prevent/solve them.

Why Do Tree Roots Block Sewers?

Roots Blocking PipeRoots grow into drainpipes because of the favorable environment there. Sewer pipes carry water that contains nutrients, water and oxygen. All these are essential elements that are needed for the growth of trees. Additionally, warm water flowing through the pipes makes it even easier for roots to find their way in.

If the pipe has minor cracks, it will release water into the nearby soil. This acts as a guide for the roots, making it easy for them to worm their way through. Once the roots are inside, they will take over the drainage pipes completely.

Within a short time, the roots will catch onto grit, tissue, grease, and other debris. Eventually they will block the entire section of the pipe blocking movement of material from the property to the main sewer line. When kitchen and toilet waste is not moving, it backs up and can end up flooding the home. This causes property damage and poses a strong health risks.

Slowly moving drains is the first sign that your drainage system is having some issues caused by roots. A slowly flowing drain usually produces gurgling noises, from the sink and toilet bowls. If no action is taken eventually total blockage will occur.

Once there is total blockage, the tree roots will have to be removed from the pipe. Apart from that, if the pipe is already broken, it will also require a complete replacement. This not an easy job to fix, especially if you don’t have the skills and the equipment needed to undertake such a project.

How to Prevent the Issue

As a homeowner, you should always know where the sewer cleanout pipe and the laterals are located. With that knowledge, avoid planting certain types of hedges and trees close to the sewer lines. All trees should be planted at least 10ft away from the sewer lines, to reduce root intrusion. Additionally, if you have to plant trees in your yard, choose small and slow growing trees, with non-aggressive root systems. You should also replace them should they exceed their growing area.

On the other hand, if large trees are already growing in your lateral area, they will eventually cause blockage. The best way to avoid this is through regular cleaning of the laterals. One of the most common methods of removing tree roots from drain pipes, is through the use of augurs, high pressure flushers or root saws.

You also need to ensure that your sewer laterals remain structurally sound at all times. Any structural fault, regardless of its size can allow roots to find their way into your drainpipes. When you are faced with this problem, the best way is to call a professional blocked drain plumber, who will get the work done and ensure your system resumes optimal drainage performance.

Use Professional Help

Professional Drain Pipe CleanerSometimes, your drainpipe might be blocked and you don’t seem to find any tree near the vicinity of your drain pipe. In such a situation, it is easy to assume that the blockage has happened elsewhere, and not due to blockage of roots. However, there are certain trees that continue expanding their root systems, even without showing signs of normal growth on the surface. Such trees might continue ailing your drainage system leading to expensive repairs on other parts of the system, which still won’t even solve the blockage problem.

Professionals use InDrain camera equipment, among other technology, to assess the state of your pipes. These cameras take photographs throughout the sewer system, thus identifying where the exact problem is. Some blocked drain professionals apply a variety of trenchless equipment, which can be used to clear away the tree roots embedded in the drains. Trenchless technology is commonly used as it does not disturb the soil. Instead, it operates or rather runs through the pipes, instead of digging around them. This approach depends on the extent of the damage. If the pipe is not damaged already, the plumber can use high-pressure water jetting, to clear the roots. This method is a nice alternative to chemicals, and also environmentally-friendly.

The best method of protecting your sewer laterals or drainpipes from frequent root damage, is through pipe re-lining. Tree roots usually get into your sewer system through damaged or weak sections of the piping. There are various re-lining materials out there, which can be used to seal some of the gaps. This helps to repair some of the minor damage caused by the roots while making it harder to penetrate the pipes for a second time.

Old aged pipes are more prone to root damage than new pipes. Therefore, if you find out that the sewer lines in your home are old and weak, it is advisable to call a plumber. Ensure that they are replaced with modern PVC pipes which have a longer life and tend to be more resistant to root damage.

You should also identify the tree that is spreading the roots to your drainpipes. This is usually the first step to dealing with the problem. Once you repair the damaged pipe and the still remains in position, you will be dealing with this problem frequently. Therefore, you should consider removing or replacing the tree. If removing or replacing the tree is too risky, then you should consider re-routing your drainpipes, further away from these roots.


Always remember that if water is draining slower than usual in the drainpipe, you should call a professional drain cleaner immediately. They will assess the extent of the problem. If in fact there is root damage, they can then use the most appropriate solution to get your system up and running while preventing further occurrences of the root damage.