Why Clay Pipes Can Cause Problems

Though clay pipes are reliable, stable and sturdy, they can be prone to tree root attacks, causing extensive and costly repairs. Tree roots can cause problems amongst all drain pipes, though those that were installed before the 1970’s were made predominately made from clay, meaning they are more susceptible to issues.

What’s the problem?

  • The joints within clay pipes were rarely made watertight, as they are needed. The narrower end of the pipe was inserted into the larger end of the next section, and concrete or mortar would be used to ‘seal’ it up. Small amounts of water would be able to escape through the seal of the pipes, which would attract the growth of tree pipes.
  • Clay pipes were only made in three-inch long sections. Whilst a typical sewer is around 100 inches long, this would mean approximately 33 joints were needed, meaning there were 33 opportunities for tree roots to enter, grow and cause issues.
  • Clay is an extremely heavy material for use of pipes. The ground beneath us naturally moves and shifts over long periods of times, meaning the pipes can gradually sink lower within the soil, eventually worsening the gaps in the sealed joints.
  • Clay pipes are brittle and easily broken. As they settle within the ground, move or shift, they can crack and break, which would create more potential entry points for tree roots as well as a whole range of further problems.

Once tree roots have made their way into the clay pipes, they will continue to grow, which will continue to worsen the gap within the pipes. Eventually, this could cause clay pipes to completely break or get crushed, which can result in that section of the pipe needing to be replaced.

The intrusion of tree roots can be determined before the pipe has had a chance to break or get crushed, as the roots are likely to obstruct the flow of water and waste, quickly causing backups in showers, toilets and other draining fixtures.

Cutting roots away from clay pipes is the only way to provide a temporary solution to the problem, though this could last anywhere from a few months to a few years. The only way to prevent roots from growing further into the clay pipes is to completely replace the pipes or provide a pipe lining. Many people opt for removing the tree with the damaging roots, though this won’t completely solve the issue as roots can continue to grow for many years after a tree has been cut down.

Here at Drain Checker, we can help sort out any problems within your drains, whether a tree root has entered through sealed clay joints or you are experiencing other blockage or repair problems. For more information on how we can help you, simply get in touch with a member of the team by visiting our contact page or by giving us a call on 0800 849 8099.