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Drain Root Intrusion: Risk Factors, Effects, And Remedy

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Tree roots are some of the biggest threats to underground drainage pipes. The number and type of trees in your yard determine how much you should care about root intrusion. However, anyone with a tree in their yard should understand the risk factors, effects, and coping strategies.

Risk Factors

Root intrusion into drainage pipes does not happen overnight. Rather, root tendrils creep into the pipes, grow, and cause damage over time. Below are risk factors for drainage root intrusion.

Pipe Proximity to Trees

The closer trees are to a drainage pipe, the likelier the pipe is to suffer root intrusion. The proximity matters since many trees have roots with lengths of two to three times the tree's canopy. The further the pipe is from the tree, the less likely the roots will reach it.

Invasive Tree Roots

Invasive tree roots grow fast when searching for nutrients and water, damaging nearby infrastructure. Examples of trees with invasive roots include white poplar, weeping willow, and silver maple.

Pipe Damages

Tree roots are likelier to affect damaged pipes than structurally sound ones. The roots need a weak or open area to penetrate. Therefore, cracked pipes, perforated, and disconnected pipes have a higher risk of root intrusion than other pipes.


Drain waste comprises two things that allow roots to grow fast – water and nutrients. Below are the effects of growing roots in pipes.

Pipe Damages

Some tree roots grow too big and exceed the internal dimensions of the pipes they affect. Such roots can easily crack open the affected pipes, allowing drain waste to leak into the ground.

Drain Blockages

The tree roots also block waste flowing along the pipes. Blocked drains can lead to slow drainage, waste backups, and smelly home interiors. Don't forget that waste backups are health risks because of the germs in the effluent.


The best way to deal with drainage root intrusion is to consult a professional plumber. DIY drain unblocking, such as drain plungers and snakes, won't work. The plumber will use powerful hydrojets or air bursts to shred the offending roots and clear your drains. You may also need to replace the damaged pipes or pipe sections.

Contact a plumbing service near you if you suspect drainage problems in your home. You should diagnose and fix drainage problems before complications, such as leaks or backups. In addition, maintain and service your plumbing system to lower such risks.