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Warning Signs of Blocked Drains Around the Home

If you live in, or are the landlord of, one or more older properties, then it’s likely that, at some time, you may suffer the serious problem of tree roots blocking and damaging your drainage pipe system. In this blog, we’ll highlight some signs that suggest such a problem, what the key causes are likely to be, and what can be done to resolve it.

Warning signs that your drains are blocked or damaged by tree roots.

There’s a range of evidence that can suggest tree roots are in your waste pipes. Firstly, you may notice an unpleasant smell emanating from your drain. When you flush your toilet, it make take longer than usual to drain away. It may also make a noticeable gurgling sound. Even worse, you may even encounter raw sewage emerging from a pipe in your back yard. For any of these signs, it’s best to investigate as such a problem won’t just simply go away.

The key causes of blocked or damaged drains in older homes

Of course, drains do sometimes become blocked because of the weird things people decide it’s reasonable to flush away. However, in general terms, and for older buildings, one key problem is often the pipework itself. Older homes (say pre 1980) typically rely on used clay pipes for underground drainage. Each section of pipe is usually just one metre long and the ends are joined together using cement. If subtle ground shifting and movement then causes a crack, roots from nearby trees often find their way through it and invade the piping system, thus causing these damaging blockages. Since around 1980, houses typically use PVC pipe in six metre lengths which are flexible are glued together. PVC pipe is much more resistant to cracks or failed joints from shifting soil.

Remedies and repairing the damage caused by tree roots

Ruttley Plumbing use state of the art camera system which we insert into the drain. This tells us where the damage is, we can see how it has been caused, and the extent of the problem. We can then assess possible solutions with the property owner. Initially we use a high pressure jet to clear what we can and then checking again with the camera to find the exact point of the root invasion. Possibilities then are to use pipe relining, and this can be accomplished without excavation. If there is no other option, then a disruptive excavation of the area might be needed to reach and replace the pipes. If running under paved and landscaped areas this can be disruptive, so where possible we will always try to clear blockages and repair the pipes without excavation.

In any case, the warning signs in this article are all matters best investigated early, as pipes damaged by tree roots are generally best dealt with at the earliest opportunity. If unsure, please give us a call.