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ROOTS AND PLUMBING


‘I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.


A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;


A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray’

So says Joyce Kilmer. Undeniably trees might be the most beautiful creations on earth. It cannot be overstated how lucky a homeowner is of having one or more trees in his or her property. If only every single one of us had the fortune of having one, our home and yard, and along with our quality of life would be much improved.


However.


(You knew it was coming)


Having trees on your property might be a bit of an issue. Never mind the leaves in autumn. The thing about trees, specially in our state, is that they might become a bit of a hassle. To put it mildly. Not saying that every single tree would pose a potential problem to your house; if your tree stands over ten feet away from your home then you can consider yourself on the safe side. If the tree, however, is closer than that to your house then that’s where things can get tricky.


Basically there are several different ways tree roots can cause damage to your plumbing, and they all share the same point of origin: water. Now the first way that roots can start causing havoc to your plumbing is, shall we say, indirectly. We’ve talked about (once and again, and again) about the high plasticity in our soil and how it damages our foundations. But still, let’s recap: basically when there is a lot of moisture in the soil it expands and with low moisture it contracts. It is this going back and forth expansion and contraction that brings about foundation damage. And while this is mainly due to seasonal weather changes, trees can also have a very large say in this.


So let’s say that there is some moisture in the ground, it doesn’t even have to be all that much; maybe it is a hot summer day and you just watered the lawn. Or maybe there is some humidity left inside the soil from the last rain, or maybe even a leak from your piping. In any case tree roots are going to be drawn to this moisture. The roots will grow in this direction and will suck up the water; this causes the soil to contract, eventually bringing about foundation damage. And with all the movement going on, plumbing might get damaged, cracked or broken; this in turn would saturate the soil with water once again, making it expand, and prompting even more movement of the foundation while inviting the tree roots to keep on reaching in that direction ir order to soak in all the water that is possible, making it a vicious cycle.




The other way in which roots can cause damage to your plumbing is more directly concerned with plumbing itself. Why? Because plumbing, whether we are talking about clean water lines or sewage lines, hold water, nutrients and oxygen. 3 things that trees will always be craving. Roots will, indubitably, grow in the direction of these things and this can bring about two different outcomes: it could either crack and even break the plumbing or it could grow into the cracks and loose joints, causing serious blockages. Either way, they’ll make a great mess of things.


So what do you do in this cases? Well, first you contact us to help you out, of course. But what specific actions will be taken in order, not only to fix this, but to prevent this from happening again?


Well the first thing will be to inspect the damage that has taken place. Is there foundation damage? In case there is, then that is the first thing to focus on. Next; fixing the actual damage to plumbing. This could be done by either relining or re-routing the lines. (PVC piping is more resistant to roots, by the way, so you might want to consider replacing old lines made out of cast iron, clay or cement). Once that is done, the next step would be to remove the roots. It can either be by using a mechanical auger, salt or chemical removers or even hydro jetters to flush away the roots from the inside of the piping.

Good, the damage has been repaired. But what about future-proofing? What can we do to make sure this will not happen again? We certainly are not going to commit ecocide. We love trees and loathe the simple thought of cutting one down unnecessarily.

So in this case the best option is to install a root barrier. This are impenetrable barriers or walls that are placed underground to block the roots from growing in the direction fo your home and reaching the plumbing (and the foundation) as they generally extend to a lower soil layer that is impenetrable to roots, making sure that they will not find a way to grow under the barrier an bypass it. They will also help to preserve soil moisture around the foundation and as a bonus, they can also protect landscaping, concrete and driveways alike. These are mostly made out of plastic, given their resistance to any cracking that could be caused by soil movement and moisture.

So, in case you have, or suspect having, issues with your plumbing or foundation, brought upon by roots, or if you are just interested in prevention then give us a call. We will make sure to keep your house and plumbing safe while at the same time looking after that beautiful creation that not only adorns your home, but gives you a better quality of life.


I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.


A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;


A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;


Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.


Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.


Joyce Kilmer.

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