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New Spring Growth Can Wreak Havoc On Underground Plumbing

Is Your Plumbing Being Hurt By Your Spring Garden?

Everyone knows the saying that April showers bring May flowers, and most would agree with its sentiment - watching the flowers bloom and the trees fill up with green is well worth a few rainy days. For some, it’s even the best part of spring! But all that glorious new plant growth can have not-so-glorious consequences for a home’s plumbing system

Namely, expanding roots can damage underground pipes and cause many problems - and it’s more common than most homeowners think. So homeowners can keep reading to learn about the effects of root intrusion on underground plumbing, what to do about it, and how to prevent it in the first place.

Invading Tree Roots


As the season of growth begins again, tree roots will grow and stretch out through the soil in search of valuable nutrients. This natural expansion can lead roots to cross paths with the supply or drainage pipes buried in the yard. The roots may then put pressure on the lines as they grow under or around them, eventually crushing them or causing them to crack.

Since these pipes contain water, thirsty roots are liable to find them very attractive and start invading the pipes through the cracks or anywhere else they find an opening, such as a worn joint or connector. It’s much more common for roots to invade a sewer line than a supply line since the former is usually made of PVC plastic, and the latter is made of more durable copper, but it does happen.

Problems Caused By Invading Roots


Invasive tree roots can cause problems for a home’s plumbing system. If roots invade or rupture a sewer pipe, it can clog up the entire home’s drainage system. Symptoms include slow draining sinks, tubs, showers, unpleasant odors coming from drains, and backed-up sewage.

Supply lines are a little tougher, but roots can still break through, particularly at joints or if the pipes are old and corroded. If this happens, roots can contaminate the water supply with heavy metals, fertilizers, or other dangerous substances in the soil. Signs of a cracked or burst pipe underground include soggy spots in the yard, patches of abnormally thick or fast-growing grass, the sound of running water when no fixtures are in use, and a loss in water pressure. It’s also worth noting that roots might crush a supply pipe rather than crack it, resulting in low water pressure.

How To Solve Root Invasion

If homeowners suspect that tree roots have compromised their underground plumbing, the next step is to call a qualified plumber to investigate further. Professionals use flexible fiber optic cables to feed into the pipe, allowing them to inspect the pipe interior visually. Once they’ve confirmed that tree roots have invaded the pipe, there are a few methods they can use to fix it, depending on the severity of the invasion.

Hydro-jetting is an effective method for removing smaller roots and other debris using high-powered water jets. A mechanical auger (aka rooter) may be necessary for more extensive roots. This is essentially a heavy-duty cutting tool on the end of a metal cable that one can feed into the pipe to cut out the invading roots. The rupture will then be sealed with a special epoxy. 

In some cases, repiping may be necessary, usually accomplished by excavating the pipe or by a trenchless method such as pipe bursting, which involves destroying the old pipe with a special machine while installing a new pipe.

The next step is prevention, whether a repipe or a minor repair. Some homeowners use chemical growth inhibitors near their underground plumbing, while others prefer to install root barriers, which are essentially heavy-duty plastic or fiberglass walls that extend down a few feet into the ground to block roots. With these measures, homeowners can enjoy the growth of spring without having to worry about disruptions in their plumbing!

About Capital Plumbing Contractors

The friendly experts at Capital Plumbing Contractors have been serving the Tallahassee community with pride since 1986. As a family-owned and operated local business, they always provide honest recommendations and competitive up-front pricing and strive to leave every home better than they found it. They offer financing options, membership plans, and 24/7 emergency service, so call Capital now for sewer line repair in Tallahassee, FL!