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7 Trees That Cause the Most Plumbing Damage - Are Any in Your Yard?

What kinds of trees do you have in your yard? You need to find out! To protect your plumbing you must know what kind of trees you have and where they are planted in relation to your sewer lines, since some trees are more trouble than others for your plumbing.A drawn graphic shows a below-ground-level view of two trees, their roots extending down to a sewer pipe, invading a crack and filling it with root hairs

Tree roots can exploit tiny cracks or holes in your sewer pipes, and use them to invade! It's a very common problem in Central Texas to have tree roots clog, crack and even completely destroy parts of sewer lines. Did you know that tree roots can be 2-7 times as long as the tree is tall? These roots will travel long distances seeking water. Roots can actually sense water vapor, and will follow the trail of leaking moisture straight back to small cracks, badly sealed joints, or pinholes in your pipes.

Was your home built 1950-1986? Then you very likely have cast iron sewer lines which are very deteriorated and especially vulnerable to root invasion. Read more here.

A drawn graphic showing tree roots inside a sewer pipe. The roots have blocked small pieces of black, white and brown debris, causing a clog. A small black and white photo from a sewer camera shows actual root hairs in a pipe.
As you can see in the diagram above, roots will invade the pipe with many hair-like masses at each hole or crack. The roots will grow quickly and catch toilet paper, debris and grease over time, adding to the blockage and slowing the passage to the main sewer. If left untreated, the roots will continue to get bigger and exert more pressure on the pipe, eventually cracking it open and causing the total failure of your pipe. The roots of some trees are more likely than others to send moisture seeking tendrils searching for the flaws in your pipes. 

If your water pressure is low, your water bill is high, your house is older, or your toilets are gurgling, you may have roots in your sewer pipes. Call The Plumbinator and we will run a special, high-tech camera down your line to see if your pipe looks like the one in the video image above, or (hopefully not) the pipe depicted below.

A side by side photo shows two cutaway views of a sewer pipe. On the left, a single root hair invades the pipe. On the left, captioned "10 months later" the pipe is filled with root hairs, blocking it.
Please note: Tree roots can't invade your water pipes, since those are under pressure, but if a crack or hole exists in a water pipe, roots will find it and wrap around the pipe, possibly displacing the pipe and causing further damage.

If you do have roots in your sewer pipes, call The Plumbinator and we'll pull them out, like Tim did below. Yikes!
A plumber stands in a bathroom with a bandanna covering his mouth and nose. He stands over a hole in the concrete floor holding a 4 foot long and 6 inch wide brown object.

So which trees are the worst offenders? Here are the top 7 trees voted most likely to invade.
  1. Sycamore
  2. Willow
  3. Oak 
  4. Maple
  5. Aspen 
  6. Elm
  7. Birch
A graphic showing tree roots wrapping around a sewer pipe in the ground, looking for an entry pointBut if you are thinking of choosing a new tree for your yard, here are some trees that pose little or no threat to underground pipes:

* Mediterranean fan palms
* Many fruit tree species
* Certain cypress and cedars
* Wafer ash
* Sabal palmetto
* Magnolia


Good Luck and call us if you need us!

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