The Most Effective Way to Avoid a Drain Blockage

The Most Effective Way to Avoid a Drain Blockage

Large, mature trees are a fantastic feature in any garden – they add beauty, provide shade, shelter delicate plants and act as a form of privacy from your neighbours. However, tree roots can wreak havoc underground if not carefully managed.

Roots naturally gravitate towards drains in search of moisture and nutrients, often causing expensive drain blockages and pipe damage. In fact, tree roots are one of the most common causes of blocked drains and broken pipes. 

Why are tree roots dangerous for my drains?

Roots can travel long distances underground, sometimes as much as seven times the tree’s height. They are particularly attracted to drains carrying water, so they generally move towards the nearest drain and tend to wrap themselves around the pipe, eventually leading to cracks.

Once the pipes have been cracked, moisture vapours and nutrients escape through the cracks, attracting more roots from nearby while also allowing the roots to grow larger.

Over time, roots will enter the drains through each crack and fill the pipe with small, hair-like roots. When these smaller roots grow and expand within the drain, they eventually clog up the pipe and often lead to a major drain blockage.

Large roots within drains can also exert huge amounts of pressure, causing broken pipes, displaced drain joints or complete collapse. 

Drain blockage caused by tree roots

What are the signs of a tree root intrusion?

If tree roots have caused a drain blockage or damaged your drains, you might notice:

  • Gurgling noises coming from your toilet, sink or drains
  • Water draining slowly down the sink, shower or bath (even when the trap is cleared regularly)
  • Unpleasant odours escaping from your pipes


If I suspect a drain blockage, can’t I just pour drain cleaner down the pipes to kill the roots?

Chemical drain cleaners are readily available at most hardware stores, but they usually aren’t the best option for tree roots.

The chemicals found in DIY drain cleaners can react with certain substances, such as chemicals that have been used in the drains previously, sometimes causing an explosion or poisonous gases. Drain cleaners can also lead to corrosion or softening of your pipes, particularly if you have PVC drains. In addition, drain cleaners may cause environmental damage once the chemicals make their way into the public system.

DIY drain cleaners tend to be a temporary solution, whereas a professional drain repair is more likely to get to the root of the problem, so to speak. If you think you might have a drain blockage or damage caused by tree roots, we suggest calling in a drain layer to diagnose the problem, assess the extent of the damage and find a permanent solution.

Professional tree root repairs are often inexpensive and can be carried out without causing further damage, safety hazards or negative environmental effects.

What can I do to prevent a tree root drain blockage?

When planting, you should ensure that all trees are at least 3 metres from the nearest drain, particularly if you have sandy soil. Roots tend to travel further in sandy, well-drained soil than in clay soil, as there is less moisture in sandy soil to feed the roots.

You should also avoid planting fast-growing trees with aggressive roots. Before planting a new tree, ask for advice at your local garden centre and ensure that you choose a slow-growing species.

If you’ve already got large, fast-growing trees on your property, regular CCTV drain inspections are the most effective way to avoid a blocked drain. CCTV drain inspections are incredibly valuable for homeowners, as drainage issues can be resolved before they become a larger (and more expensive) problem. The faster we can respond to a tree root intrusion, the less chance there is of widespread damage occurring.

Most homeowners are unaware of the damage caused by tree roots until their drainage system is completely blocked. Emergency drain unblocking tends to be more costly than a simple drain repair and often involves digging up your garden, so we recommend checking your drains with a CCTV inspection every two years to avoid this scenario.

Ready to book a CCTV drain inspection?

For a limited time, we’re offering CCTV drain inspections for $150 + GST (usually $200 + GST). 

Just get in touch below before 30 September 2019 to contact our friendly team and arrange a time.

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