When a drain starts to slow down most people reach for a plunger or a chemical product. These may be helpful if the problem is on the inside, but this is not always the case. If traditional drain clearing methods don’t work, you should look outside to see what might be causing a stubborn blockage. Those trees that make your yard attractive and give you shade in the summer could be causing problems in your drains. It only takes one root getting in for a major blockage to eventually occur.
The Destructive Effects of Roots
Roots move deeper into the soil to find nourishment for plants and trees. Even a tiny opening is enough to attract roots as they seek to take advantage of this ready supply of food. The problem is that one small root will continue to grow and spread in the pipes. Eventually it will create a mass that makes it impossible for waste to flow through the system. The roots will not stop at the first point where nourishment is located, and they can grow even faster in winter to keep the tree alive when there is no water. Older pipes that are easily damaged are more prone to root damage. Many of them are made of concrete or clay which can crack easily due to settling soil. Signs of root damage to sewer and water lines are:
- Frequently clogged toilets
- A slow draining bathroom sink or bathtub
- Gurgling sounds from drains
- Decreased water pressure
If your water decreases suddenly this could indicate damage or a major blockage in the line. Many homeowners see their water bills increasing since more water is passing through the system but not entering the home. Blockages to the sewer line can create a backup in the home or in the yard. One sign of sewer problems is a bad odor in the basement. This problem can also lead to sogginess in the yard or large pools of wastewater.
Protecting Your Plumbing
Protecting your water and sewer lines requires a little planning for your landscaping. Find out where these lines run, and avoid planting trees near these areas. Care for your trees and plants by watering them regularly, and providing plant food when necessary. This will minimize the chances of them spreading the roots to find food. Some trees, like holly and oaks, have more root growth, so avoid planting them in your yard.
If your drains or pipes start to slow down, consult a plumbing professional. A check of the system will lead to quick repairs and prevent further damage.