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Tree roots don’t like wet feet

Tree roots in pipes don’t like to be in water all the time.
Fine tree roots grow through the top of the pipe joints and then down into the water flow.
In permanently water charged ground, tree roots rarely appear in the sewer because they don’t like to be continually immersed in water.

Pipe joints create opportunity

Clay sewer pipes are a great opportunity for tree roots to get in your pipe line.
These pipes are usually 2-3 foot or 600-900mm long.

So, in a 100 foot (30 metre) pipeline, there could be up to 50 individual pipes and bends and junctions.
That means there are at least 50 pipe joints for a tree to get its roots into your sewer pipes.
It helps explain why you can have multiple blockages in your pipes.
And why fixing where the roots are getting in today doesn’t mean the tree roots wont get in a few pipe joints along.
Vaporooter should treat every joint in the pipe line.

Why trees choose sewer over stormwater pipes.

Trees are more likely to grow into sewer pipes than stormwater pipes.
Every day we use our plumbing sending that water and fertiliser combination along the pipeline for the trees and their root systems to drink their fill.
BUT, stormwater pipes only carry water when it rains, which in this country is fairly unreliable.
If I was a tree and had a choice of putting my roots into a sewer pipe or a stormwater pipe, I would choose the sewer pipes because every day, as regular as clockwork, I will be fed and watered.
If I chose the stormwater pipes, I may die of thirst!

Tree roots grow through pipe joints.

Tree roots usually enter your pipe line through the pipe joints.

Did you know each clay sewer pipe is usually 2-3 foot long, that’s 600-900mm each?
So, in a pipe line 100 feet in length (30 metres), there could be up to 50 individual pipes with bends and junctions.

That means there are at least 50 different places for a tree to get its roots into your sewer.

That’s a lot of opportunity for tree roots searching for moisture in our hot Australian climate with unpredictable rain fall.

If you’re considering pipe relining, root cutting or a pipe renewal as options for keeping the roots at bay remember, the tree roots can just move down to the next pipe joint that hasn’t been protected.

Tree roots in drains start out small

Do you know how small tree roots are when they enter your sewer drains?
Believe it or not, when tree roots enter your drains through small cracks in the pipe joints, they are finer than the hairs on your head or the purest Australian wool.
Then, once they are in the cracks and pipe joints they multiply

How tree roots get into pipes #3


Tree roots grow into cracks in the joints in sewer pipes that may have been there even before the pipes were used.

Hard to believe but envisage this.

Your friendly plumber has dug a trench, laid the new earthenware pipes, cemented all the joints, then proceeded to back fill the trench.

The very process of backfilling the trench is enough to put pressure and fine cracks in the cement joints.

That is just enough to let the tree roots know that warm condensation is nearby.

When will you do my Vaporooter?

I just had a phone call from Deborah wanting to know when we are doing her 2017 Vaporooter treatment.

Deb said “You usually come at the end of October”

You’ve been coming every year since 2010.

“Oh, my pipes aren’t blocked but, I don’t want to go back to those days with horrible sewage overflowing and my toilet won’t flush” she said.

Deb has a large fig tree growing on the nature strip at the front of her home.

Don’t worry.
We’ve got you covered Deborah

Apologies for the wind noise at the start of this 2.01 min clip.

How tree roots get into pipes #2

In my last post I described how tree roots can easily travel through the soil loosened by excavation for your pipe installation.

Do you know why tree roots grow in sewer pipes from the top of the pipe joints?

Condensation is formed when we run water from our water pipes, through our drains.

Especially when we have a hot shower, wash our clothes or dishes in hot or warm water.
When the warm water enters the drains buried in the cold earth, condensation is formed, and it gathers on the inside top of our sewer pipes and drains.

The tree roots moving through our already loosened soils can now move along the top of the pipelines and are attracted to the warmth and moisture inside.
All they need now is a way into the pipe.

This 1.58sec clip shows how.

How tree roots get into pipes #1

Tree roots grow through trenches dug for plumbing pipes.

When plumbers excavate a trench in virgin soil to lay our pipelines to take the waste water from your home, we till the soil.

That’s right, the simple method of excavating the soil with a shovel or even a mechanical excavator like a backhoe actually breaks up the soil.

After we complete our excavations and lay the pipes in the trenches, we back fill the trench, putting the excavated soils back.

Sometimes we water in the soil and quite often use a compactor to help with the back fill process.

Some pipe line excavations are back filled with an aggregate like blue metal gravel.

Even so, the backfilled soil is never as compact as virgin soil.

That provides the roots of nearby trees a much easier path to “wander” along in their search for water and nutrients.

Neighbours tree roots in your Pipes

The number of over the fence disputes between neighbours started by tree roots growing under the fence is multiplying.
As the trees in your garden mature they go in search of moisture and nutrients in neighbouring properties sewer pipes.
Periods of no rain like we are currently experiencing will see tree root systems spread in every direction in their search for liquid fertiliser.
Many homeowners without a single tree on their property will have blocked sewer pipes caused by tree roots from their neighbours trees, sometimes 2 or more houses away.
That is an inconvenience however, Vaporooter is an alternative way to stop tree roots in your drains and maintain neighbourly relationships.

Tree roots chase liquid gold in drains

Did you know tree roots chase the liquid fertiliser in sewer drains?
That’s because the waste water running through your pipes is a constant source of moisture and nutrients.
In our dry continent a sewer pipe is an easy target for a tree root system that plays the long game.

Most of us use our plumbing every day.
When we brush our teeth, wash the dishes and of course shower and flush our toilets, we send the waste water off to the sewerage treatment works.
We are also sending liquid fertiliser along the pipes for our trees to feast upon.

That waste water usually runs along the bottom 1/3 of the pipe.
More on that later….

Cutting roots makes them grow thicker and stronger

Did you know when you cut tree roots from your blocked sewer pipes, they grow back thicker and stronger?
You see, getting a blocked drain specialist to cut the roots of a tree with high pressure water or an electric eel is just like pruning your hedge or rose bush, it actually encourages tree root regrowth.

Over a long period, when the tree roots in your sewer pipes grow back thicker and stronger, it reduces the time between cuts.
Or sewer blockages occur more frequently!
Eventually the roots that grow in through the small cracks and joints in your sewer pipeline will begin to damage or break your pipes.
So is the only remedy to dig up that section of pipeline and carryout expensive repairs.
No. Find out more about Vaporooter

I don’t want to live like this.

You could hear the fear in her voice!
“Sonia” from Bronte asked, What does your Vaporooter Guarantee actually mean?

Sonia lives on the first floor of a 8 storey block of home units.
“About every 3 months we get a blocked drain caused by tree roots in the pipes under our building”

“Depending on the type of tree, that’s not unusual” I said.

“You don’t understand” she said as her throat began to tighten
“When we get a blockage, all the sewer and waste water flushed by the residents on the 7 floors above, hits the blockage in the carpark and backs up through the floor drain in my bathroom”
overflowing toilet Yuk!
“Ouch, Do you mean everything?’
“Yes, everything”
“Poo, condoms, tampons, cotton wool buds, toilet paper. It’s absolutely disgusting”
“It makes me want to throw up just thinking about it, running from the floor drain in my bathroom, out the door and all over the hallway and lounge room carpet.”

“But, Why are you so upset now?” I asked.

“It’s been 4 months since it happened, so it’s gonna happen again soon. I don’t want to live like this!”

I actually had this conversation on April 8th 2016.

The Body corporate committee are getting other opinions on Tree root treatments for drains.

I feel for “Sonia”

Tree root Poonami closes Coogee beach

Sydney Australia has many world famous beaches.

Yesterday morning, April 14th 2016, one of her crown jewels, Coogee Beach, had to be closed after a Sydney Water sewer main in nearby Dudley Street had a blockage that overflowed into the Randwick City council stormwater drains.

Daily Telegraph 2016 04 14

Daily Telegraph 2016 04 14


The blockage was caused by tree roots growing in the Sydney Water sewer main.

The overflowing sewer spilled into a stormwater pipe that discharged into the ocean, right under Coogee Surf club.
Randwick City council closed the beach and drained the Ross Jones pool next to the Coogee Surf club in the afternoon on a day when holidaying school kids and tourists alike were enjoying our beautiful autumn weather and pleasant 21 deg water temperature.
2014 04 14 Whats that smell
The Sydney Morning Herald reports the beach has been re-opened today after time and tide have cleaned up the beach overnight.
Sydney Water technical crews were testing the water quality this morning.

The disappointing part is that this tree root blockage in the sewer pipe was totally preventable.

Cities across Australia are currently using Vaporooter to protect their sewer assets, drastically reducing maintenance costs and preventing sewer overflows like the Poonami that closed Coogee beach.

Vaporooter Helps Strata Prevent $40,000 Sewer Replacement

Tree Root Photo-1
Location: Clovelly, Sydney
Occupants: Mostly women over 40. 2 with teenage children.
Home: Block of four 2 bedroom flats 2 up, 2 down circa 1920
Trees in Vicinity: Tree lined Street, many Hills Weeping Fig (Ficus Microcarpa Var.) large
In total we have billed this client $9,772.00 for tree root cutting and repairs.
In March 2010, they have finally indicated their interest in applying Vaporooter to control their tree roots in and around their sewer pipes.
The quote to apply Vaporooter is $1,586.00. This comes with a 12-month Guarantee.
The estimated cost to renew this sewer around both sides of the building and out to the sewer main in the street is estimated to be an astonishing $40,000.00.
The roots from the trees in this street are widespread.
We have attended to blocked drains in houses and unit blocks up and down the street.
The roots are getting stronger.
Without Vaporooter, a full sewer replacement will be the only (costly) alternative.
Some of the residents have indicated that instead of applying Vaporooter, they will lobby the Council to cut down the trees.
That would change the entire streetscape and severely diminish their property value above the $40,000 sewer replacement and well beyond the preventative Vaporooter solution that is guaranteed to solve the problem.
This beautiful period block of flats, a 5 minutes walk from the beach is on a street lined with Hills weeping fig trees.
You know the kind, they produce the most beautiful summer shade with birds attracted to the fruit.
The branch canopy stretches right across the street.
But, so does the root system of these magnificent specimens.
We were first called to this property to attend a blocked drain in May 2005.
The problem was tree roots from the specimens on the public footpath at the front of the property.

The ground floor flats were the worst affected.

Not only did their toilets back up when they flushed them, but when the flats upstairs flushed their toilet, that also came up and sometimes overflowed in the ground floor toilets.

That’s called The U-Tube (poo-tube) effect!

We recommended to the owner occupiers that Vaporooter would control the tree roots in their sewer.
They declined to take up the offer.
In the 5 years since, we have attended to this sewer blocked by tree roots 7 times.
We have carried out excavations to repair sections of drainage damaged by this aggressive tree root system.

This unfortunately includes costly and inconvenient weekend and after hours callouts.

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