Silent Danger

The beautiful shade trees in your Southern California yard enhance the landscape perfectly, but they may pose a silent threat to your underground plumbing. It’s easy to overlook the impact of tree root growth because it occurs quietly beneath the surface.

Preventing Tree Root Damage

Fortunately, there are several preventive measures you can take to safeguard your underground pipes from tree root intrusion:

  1. Pipe Liner: If the affected pipe is visible, consider adding a pipe liner. You can do this by inserting polyester resin-saturated felt liners into the damaged pipe. When the resin sets, it forms a watertight barrier, protecting the existing pipe from further damage.
  2. Trim Tree Roots: Trim the tree roots near your pipes using pruners to remove approaching root branches. Regular maintenance can help prevent tree roots from infiltrating your pipes.
  3. Root Barrier: If you want to keep the tree and avoid eliminating it, a tree expert can install a root barrier around the base of the tree. Root barriers are effective for older trees that may have extensive root systems and can also protect newly planted trees. Uncontrolled tree roots can also damage your property’s foundation and other structures.
  4. Inspect Water Lines: Regularly inspect water lines for any signs of wear or damage, such as discoloration or damp areas. Early detection of problems can help you address them before they become major issues.
  5. Clean Drains Regularly: Cleaning your outside drains at least twice a year will remove debris or buildup from the pipes. This maintenance routine can also help you identify root intrusions promptly.

Signs of Tree Root Damage

Recognizing the signs of tree root damage is essential for taking appropriate action. Watch for these telltale indications that tree roots may be compromising your pipes:

  • Recurring, unexplained clogs in sinks, toilets, and tubs.
  • Gurgling sounds emanating from drains and toilets.
  • Slow drainage in your tubs and sinks.
  • Sinkholes forming in your yard.
  • A gradual drop in available water.
  • Low water pressure.
  • Gurgling or knocking sounds in your pipes.

Taking Action

If you discover that tree roots have penetrated your sewer line, you should immediately call a professional plumber for assistance. While you wait for the plumber to arrive, consider the following interim steps:

  1. Rock Salt in the Toilet: Pour half a pound of rock salt into the toilet bowl, flushing as many times as necessary for all the salt to disappear. Repeat this action three more times, totaling two pounds of rock salt. Allow the drain system to sit for 12 hours without flushing.
  2. Add Foaming Root Killer: Visit your local hardware store and ask for foaming root killer. Some products are specifically designed to target only the roots inside the pipe without harming the tree. Pour the chemical down the toilet; it will foam as soon as it contacts water, traveling down the pipe to dissolve the roots.
  3. Apply Copper Sulfate: Dispense half a cup of copper sulfate into the toilet and flush it several times. Allow the drain to sit undisturbed for six hours. Keep in mind that copper sulfate is toxic and can be harmful to children and pets. Ensure their safety by temporarily relocating them from the home during the application.

Dealing with tree root damage can be a challenging task, and it’s crucial to seek professional assistance to address this issue effectively.

For more information on handling plumbing problems and maintaining your plumbing system, visit SoCal Plumbers. If you found this article informative and wish to receive future updates from SoCal Plumbers, please sign up for our newsletter.

Protecting your property from tree root damage is a proactive step every homeowner should take to ensure the longevity of their plumbing system.