How Tree Roots Can Cause Drainage Problems

Have you ever considered that a tree root could be the reason for your suspicious drainage problem?

When we carry out CCTV drain surveys for clients, we often find broken or blocked drains caused by tree root damage. If a problem like this is ignored, the root will cause the ground to move, resulting in a bellied drain or sunken pipework. This, in turn, could produce further damage including multiple join replacements in pipes and drains. Our CCTV technology has been designed to spot problems like this early on; however, it is important to keep a close eye on your drains and be aware of potential problems with tree roots.

Although a pretty Ash or Sycamore tree offers an attractive focal point, their roots cause a pesky problem to nearby drains. A sewer pipe is an ideal place for a root to grow because it’s filled with water, oxygen and nutrients, and the flow of warm water through the pipe makes it easy for roots to find their way in. If there are any small cracks in the pipe, vapour will be released into the soil, which acts as a signpost to the roots, making it easy for them to find their way in.

The roots will continue to grow once they are inside the pipe, meaning that over time your drain or sewer could be completely taken over with roots which will catch grease, grit, tissue and other household substances. Not a fun job to fix!

Not only will the tree roots need removing from the pipe; in some cases the roots will break the pipe, causing it to collapse. This would mean a complete replacement for the pipe.

As a homeowner, you should be aware of where your property’s drains are located. If you are thinking of planting trees or shrubs nearby, try to keep them at a safe distance to avoid root growth.

Not planting a tree is one thing, but what do you do with a tree that is already growing near one of your drains? How can you tell if a tree root is going to cause a drainage problem, when everything happens underground?

First, you need to look at the size and type of tree or shrub you are dealing with. This will give you an idea of the distance the roots will grow. Tree roots can grow up to 12 metres in length, meaning it doesn’t need to be close to the drain to cause a problem!

Here is an indication of how far roots can grow from tree to drain:

Shrub bushes, Blackthorn, Broom, Elder, Privet: 3 metres

Ash, Beech, Birch, Conifer, Elm, Chestnut, Maple, Oak, Sycamore: 6 metres

Poplar and Willow: 12 metres

If you are worried that roots could be growing into your drain or lateral, we recommend organising a CCTV drain survey to find out what’s going on under the surface. Give us a call to find out more!