Are the Trees in Your Yard a Threat to Your Plumbing? All of us, especially avid gardeners, love having strong, tall trees in our yards. They remind us of nature, improve the quality of air around our homes, provide valuable shade in hot summer months and perhaps even provide fruit for our families to enjoy. Trees look majestic and peaceful, but they are powerful forces of nature that can cause a problem. If left unchecked a tree could cause severe damage to the pipes and plumbing systems in your home. Why is this the case? Is there anything that can be done? What Kind of Threat do Trees Represent to Plumbing? Much like an iceberg, there is a lot more going on under the surface than you will notice on the surface. A tree is consistently growing thick, strong roots under the ground of your yard. These roots are vital to form a healthy, strong foundation for the tree and to provide it with much needed nutrients from the surrounding soil. This is why roots spread out in all directions, and it keeps our trees healthy. The problems begin when a tree root comes into contact with an obstruction. This may be a buried stone or a foundation of your home, in this case, the root will usually move around or alongside the obstacle seeking more soil. This is not the case with plumbing pipes for a number of reasons. Why are Plumbing Pipes a Target for Tree Roots? The plumbing in your home relies on pipes that carry fresh water in and waste out of your home. Even if your plumber has carried out a great job installing pipes under your yard, they will degrade over time. This could manifest in a series of cracks or slight perforations in the body of the pipe or at any joints. Remember that the tree roots are seeking out sources of nutrients and water to feed the tree. The roots will find damaged pipe and begin to force themselves into the pipes to get at the water. This can cause your pipes to become severely damaged and clogged up. Given enough time, tree roots can completely destroy a plumbing system. Can Anything be Done to Stop This? Looking at your yard, there is no way to tell where the tree roots are going to grow. Luckily there are a few tips that can help to reduce the risk of having your plumbing system damaged by roots. Firstly, new trees should be planted away from your home at the far end of your yard. Secondly, if you have an existing tree close to your home, you may have to decide how important the tree is. It may be the case that your plumbing is old and needs replacing, in which case your plumber could re-route your pipes to avoid a beloved tree. Finally, when installing new pipes always use PVC, ABS or Polyethylene pipe as it is highly resistant to the attention of roots. Many problems with tree roots and plumbing are a result of old clay pipes that have leaked over many years. There are trenchless methods such as Polyethylene and Epoxy liner that can be less expensive then tree removal or rerouting a pipe. By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solutions.