2 Ways to Tell if Your Home’s Main Drain is Being Choked by Tree Roots

Tree with large root structureWhat would you think if an appliance in your home started draining slowly or not draining at all?  If you are like most people, you would assume that something that went down the drain is causing a clog.  But you could be wrong; in homes with certain risk factors, it could be the trees in your own yard causing your drains to slow and back up. Learn to identify these risk factors and what you can do if you think your pipes are being clogged with tree roots.

What Roots do to Pipes

Mature trees can have very large underground root structures.  Every year, the tips of these roots expand via very fine, hairlike rootlings seeking more space…and water.  The roots infiltrate underground plumbing pipes such as your main drain through small openings at the pipe joints.  As more and more roots enter the pipe, they create a tangle in your drain and also let in dirt through the openings.  The blockage of the roots impedes waste from your appliances from properly passing through the pipes, catching toilet paper, grease, hair and other debris until the flow is reduced or your drain is completely blocked.  Enough root infiltration and expansion can also eventually cause pipes to crack and collapse.

Risk Factors for Root Problems

1)     The first factor is having large, mature trees within 30 feet of your home’s main drain line to the sewer. (This is a 4 inch drain line connecting your home’s plumbing to the public sewer, and is the homeowner’s responsibility.)  No trees, no root problem.

2)     Second, if your home has clay, asbestos, or cast iron pipes, your drains are susceptible to root damage through the softer material and weaker joint openings.  However modern piping uses harder, more airtight ABS or PVC piping, and roots cannot infiltrate this material. If you’re not sure what kind of pipes your home has, it’s generally the case that homes built before 1970 have the weaker pipes and are at risk for root damage.

Assessing and Clearing Root Blockages in Drain Lines

If your home has the above risk factors and your water is draining slowly, you should have your main drain line assessed for root damage. A qualified plumber will run a camera down a drain in your home and be able to see clearly what kind of pipes you have, and if it is tree roots causing a blockage.  A mechanical auger can be used to clear out roots and flush out debris in the pipes. Keep in mind that once roots have entered a pipe they will continue to grow every year, so it is important to be diligent about monitoring the amount of root spread in your line. If the pipes are quite damaged, the solution is to re-pipe or re-line your current pipes. Hy-Mark offers all of these services, and provides free in-home consultations. Call us today for help with your drains or any other plumbing service at 1 800 727 0750.