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Tree Roots: One Possible Reason Your Drains Are Slow

Spring is nearly here, which means that plant life everywhere is coming out of its dormant winter state and beginning to grow. Spring is a time or rampant growth for plant life, especially as wet soil, spring rains, and increased sunlight creates ideal growth conditions. In order to support this growth, plants expand their roots to soak up more water, provide more stability, gain new sources of nutrients. Roots are more than just resource collectors, however, they’re also explorers. And for many plants, a giant source of nutrients and water is well within reach in your main sewer line or a drain line.

This is the reason why drain clogs seem to happen so often in spring—these exploratory roots find a microscopic crack in your drain or sewer lines, tap into the nutrient source, and then quickly grow and expand until they fill the entire volume of the pipe. This slows your drains down, just by a little at first, but then eventually causes them to stop working completely, leaving you with the frustration of not being able to find out what’s making your drains so slow.

Reasons for Tree Root Intrusion

Are your pipes at risk for tree root intrusion? There are a few factors which influence this. First, where are the trees on your property located? Because tree root intrusion is such a well-known problem now, many builders have actually intentionally routed drain and sewer lines away from where trees are going to be by design. This keeps the roots as far away from your pipes as possible, and thus reduces the chances that roots will eventually find their way into your drain lines.

Second, what is the condition of your drain lines? Depending on the material they’re constructed from, they may have corroded, shifted, cracked, or otherwise become damaged from years of use. This is particularly true for main sewer lines, which are usually constructed from metal like galvanized steel or iron, whose tendency to rust is only exacerbated by acidic waste being flushed or drained away. If you have a metal drain line that’s 30 or 40 years old or more, there’s a strong chance that rust and other factors have created weak points or cracks where tree roots can break in.

And finally, how old are the trees on your property? If you have fairly young trees, the roots may not have expanded to the point where they can break into your drain lines. Conversely, an older tree that’s been in the ground for several decades likely has a tremendous root network that expands far beyond what your eyes may be able to see on the surface. In these cases, root intrusion becomes far more likely.

What to Do If Tree Roots Are Blocking Your Pipes

If you suspect that your pipes may be backed up by tree roots, it’s important to contact a professional Lancaster plumber as soon as possible. Your plumber will usually determine the source of the clog with a video camera line inspection—a service which involves feeding a small camera on a line through your pipe to spot the source of the clog. Once it’s determined that a tree root is the actual source of your clog, your plumber will develop a plan for eliminating it.

In the past, tree root intrusion was a massive problem that usually required excavating and replacing your drain or sewer line to resolve. However, today that’s no longer the case. Depending on the health of your drain lines, you may be able to clear them away with a service known as “hydrojetting.” This service essentially uses water under extremely high pressure to blast away clogs and even clean the walls of your pipes to eliminate any other possible developing clogs.

If your pipes are weak, damaged, or showing signs of rust and cracking, then it may actually still be prudent to excavate and replace your drain line entirely. Not only does this eliminate your root problem, but it actually strengthens your line and can prevent tree root intrusion from happening again.

Have your drains inspected by a professional Lancaster plumber! Call Lancaster Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical today to schedule yours.