How to Tell if Tree Roots Have Damaged Your Pipes & Drains
Tree root damage to a property’s pipe and drainage systems are some of the most common plumbing problems found in Australian homes, but it does take some knowledge to know why and how you might spot it if it happens to you.
How does a tree damage your pipes and drains?
Roots are surprisingly strong and can do extensive damage if left unchecked. It begins with a tree finding a small crack or fault in a pipe, normally in the join between two sections. Once it finds an opening it slowly starts growing into the space until it reaches the water and nutrients inside. As it expands into the crack, the root grows, widening the opening and eventually causing serious structural damage to the pipe’s walls.
However, with all of this happening underground, it might be difficult to see how you can recognise tree root damage without digging up half your backyard. Luckily, there are some common signs and symptoms that can point to a larger problem before you call in the professionals.
Strange new contours in your backyard
Finding new contours or sinkholes in the earth of your garden can often be a sign of damage to your pipes under the ground. As water escapes from the pipe it leaks into the earth around it creating soft spots which then sink down into visible contours on the surface.
Blockages in your drains and toilets
Extensive tree root growth into your pipes can cause complete blockages of your drainage systems if left untreated for too long, however, before it gets quite that bad there are some earlier warning signs. Looking for slow drainage or listening for strange gurgling noises from your toilet can hint that there is a blockage somewhere down the line.
Enhanced growth in particular patches in your yard
A damaged pipe can release water or nutrient rich sewerage into the earth of your backyard, which can result in enhanced growth for some of your plants. If you see patches of grass that are vibrant and green, while other parts look lacklustre, or you have sudden growth from one of your trees or shrubs, it might be a good indication that there is a leak somewhere beneath the surface.
Bad smells around your home
With part of your sewerage system blocked, you might begin to notice bad smells around the home. This can occur either around your sewerage lines, as they become backed up and don’t flush away, or in your backyard as sewerage leaks into the soil.
How can you be sure without digging out your pipes?
The good news is that technology has advanced enough that you no longer need to rip up your backyard in order to check whether you have a tree root problem. Specialists can come in with a thin micro-camera that can be introduced into your pipes via a small ‘keyhole’. This way you can see exactly what the issue is before you decide how to fix it.