Getting To The Root Of The Problem: Plumbing Problems And Roots

Posted on: 11 January 2017


You may never have given it much thought, but your next big plumbing issue could come from underneath your front yard. While the city will take care of any pipe problems under the street, once the pipe enters your property, it's your problem and not the city's. The main culprit of plumbing problems is roots that invade and damage your main pipe. Read on to learn more about getting to the root of the problem.

The Main Drain

When you flush your toilet or send bath water down the drain, it goes into one main pipe that leads out to the street, where it merges with your neighbor's waste water. This main drain is called the lateral pipe, and when it gets clogged it can cause major misery for homeowners. The first sign of problems may be a toilet that takes forever to empty, which is soon accompanied by loud and troubling gurgling noises. If not addressed, the day will come when the sewage begins to enter your home through your toilet instead of the other way around. Raw sewage is something to take seriously.

The Evil Root

You may be curious as to how a tree or bush root could possible enter something apparently solid and strong, such as a plumbing pipe. Just as mountains eventually wear down given enough time and the elements, so do pluming pipes. The main issue is tiny leaks that form in the joint area of the pipes. Roots will aggressively seek out the smallest speck of moisture and will eventually cause damage to the pipe. Once that root enters the pipe, the door opens for dirt and the root itself to form a blockage large enough to back up the waste water from your home.

Action Options

  • Get an idea of where your lateral pipe is located—your local water utility may be able to help you pinpoint the pipe.
  • Remove all large bushes and trees that are anywhere near the pipe location.
  • When landscaping, look for trees and bushes that have less aggressive roots.

The Plumber

Lateral pipe problems are not normally easily remedied by non-professionals. Accessing the area can be tricky and will require specialized equipment. Your plumber will utilize a number of special tools to diagnose and repair or replace the bad pipe, such as a tiny camera to view the area and root saws to remove the offending blockage.

Don't attempt this repair alone, call your local professional plumber.