Common Drainage Issues: Root Ingress | Help & Advice | EDS

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The Various Ways Roots Can Cause Drainage Problems

When planting trees or hedges, it’s important to be aware of any pipe networks underground as root structures can cause backups, blockages and even damage to pipes.

Cracks and Loose Connectors

The cause of most root problems is a crack in a pipe or a poor connection. Roots are attracted to the vapours that escape from any structurally compromised piping, so it’s important to make sure there are no trees planted over pipe networks. You can never be sure that sewer laterals, for example, are in perfect condition, but you can make sure roots are kept away.

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Root Infiltration

Roots are always searching for water, oxygen and nutrients. As pipes – especially sewer systems – contain plenty of these things, roots will readily infiltrate where possible. Where a root system has started to grow inside a pipe, there is an increased chance that debris such as tissue paper and fats could become stuck, causing the pipe to flow slower.

In such cases, it’s important to prevent further infiltration before blockages and damage occur. One sign to look out for with drainage flow issues is gurgling noises from the toilet.


If a root structure has been growing for some time in a pipe, it will have taken over the inside space, causing considerable flow issues. Over time, debris will have collected and narrowed or even blocked the flow of drainage contents.

At this point, it’s essential to call out an engineer for drain root removal and replacement of  the affected pipe. In the case of sewage systems, a backed up pipe structure can be particularly unpleasant if the pipe bursts or breaks.

Pipe Damage

After enough time, the pressure exerted by a growing root structure on a pipe will cause it to break. Whether the pipe is for sewage, drainage or water, one that is broken will serve no function at all as the contents will spill out into the surrounding soil.

For sewer pipes that connect the house drainage system to the main sewer pipes, any damage or blockages are the liability of the homeowner. On the other hand, roots from a council-planted tree are the responsibility of the council, as well as public places.

The Tools Available to Engineers for Tackling Tree Roots Drainage Problems

To ensure that any pipes on your property are in good condition, it’s advisable to have them checked and serviced regularly. For removing roots in drain, an engineer will use various methods such as high pressure flushing, root sawing and the use of an auger, which is a flexible drill designed to break-up blockages.

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