How to prevent tree roots from blocking your Sydney drains

Published On 29-05-2018 by Jason Bonanno

Tree roots growing in underground sewer and stormwater pipes are one of the most common causes of blocked drains in Sydney. Drain pipes have everything that tree roots need - moisture oxygen and nutrients. Tree roots are capable of seeking out even the smallest hairline cracks in old ceramic and metal pipes. Once inside, they will continue to grow until they form a huge impenetrable mass. This can lead to severe blocked drains and raw sewage back flow in your home.  PREVENTING TREE ROOTS FROM ENTERING PLUMBING PIPES 1. PLANT TREES AWAY FROM PIPES The best way to prevent tree roots from entering your pipes is to avoid planting trees near underground pipes. Be aware of where you sewer and stormwater lines are located on your property and make sure you plant trees approximately three metres away from pipes. If you do not have an accurate or up-to-date sewer diagram, a Sydney plumber will be able to conduct a CCTV drain inspection and advise you where the pipes are located.  2. BE SELECTIVE WHEN CHOOSING TREES Some species of plants are not suitable for planting anywhere near sewer pipes. Large, fast growing species with extensive roots systems can infiltrate and eventually destroy pipes, causing significant inconvenience and costly repairs. Hunter Water provides a useful list of trees to avoid planting near pipes. The main species to steer clear of include willows, poplars, rubbers trees, fig tree and camphor laurels. 3. COPPER SULFATE Flushing small amounts of copper sulphate down the toilet can be useful in preventing tree roots from entering your sewer line. Copper is poisonous to roots, meaning they will actively avoid the pipes.  One way to keep your sewer lines clear is to regularly pour a small amount, less than 1/2 cup, of copper sulphate into the toilet. Copper sulfate is a corrosive substance and should only be implemented through the toilet. Make sure you read the instructions carefully before using it. This method is also suitable for treating small, feeder roots. It kills the roots but it usually isn't fatal to trees. If large masses of tree roots are already in the pipes it’s best to call a licensed Sydney drainage plumber. REMOVING TREE ROOTS FROM BLOCKED PIPES AND DRAINS 1. EXCAVATE AND REPLACE DAMAGED PIPES The first option is to excavate and replace the damaged section of pipe where the tree roots are entering. This is a great solutions in terms of longevity as any older ceramic or metal pipes can be replaced with durable PVC pipes. This is also the only option available if the pipes are extensively damaged or collapsed. The complexity and cost of replacing pipes depends on where the damaged pipe is located and the length that needs replacing. For example, if a large length of pipe needs replacing and it's located underneath a driveway the repairs will include jack-hammering through the concrete, replacing the pipe and restoration of the driveway. Alternatively, if only a short section of easily accessible pipe needs replacing, it will be a relatively cheap and simple process. 2. PIPE RELINING  The second option is to have the pipes relined, which involves a piece of inflatable tubing being inserted into the pipe and inflated until it lines the inside of the pipe. The tubing is soaked in a strong epoxy resin that ensures it fastens to the pipe. Before relining can occur, the pipe will first need to be assessed using a CCTV drain camera - to make sure re-lining is a suitable option - and fully cleaned using high-pressured jet blasters. Relining is less disruptive than excavating and replacing pipes because there is no need for any digging. 3. REGULAR HIGH-PRESSURED JET BLASTING The third option is jet-blasting which can temporarily clear tree roots for up to 12 months. Jet blasting combines high-pressured water together with a nozzle attachment which scrubs the entire length of the pipe clean. This is the quickest and cheapest method available, but it is not a permanent solution. If tree roots have found their way into pipes once, they will always find their way back in, unless the pipe is repaired or replaced. Nevertheless, annual jet-blasting maintenance is a great option due to price and convenience. Related Articles Why tree roots are the silent drain destroyers