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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 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.

Vaporooter – The History

>Sanafoam Vaporooter  was created  in the late 1960′s and has been a major contributor in big and small cities across North America in maintaining their sewer systems.

In 2010, whilst attending the Pumper and Cleaner Expo in Louisville Kentucky, I worked and trained with Hunter Dance one of the key Vaporooter personnel.

Watch this short YouTube video and listen as Hunter talks of the history of Vaporooter.

Tree Root Blockage Basics

You notice that your sinks are draining slowly so you call a plumber. After investigating the issue, the plumber tells you that you don’t have an ordinary drain blockage. He says that tree roots are growing in your pipes. Has this happened to you?

What does that mean? Well- here’s a little of why it happened, and what you can expect.

Tree roots growing into and subsequently blocking plumbing, causes many health and safety issues. The blocking of drainage pipes causes back-up that leads to unsanitary conditions. Even when the pipes aren’t completely blocked, the decay of dead roots can cause noxious gasses to infiltrate your home or business.

The tree root decay also threatens building substructures such as maintenance holes and concrete pipe cases. Finally, the area available to process household drainage is reduced as slime and fungus grow onto the decayed and stuck plant matter.

Roots growing into pipes aren’t a coincidence. Tree root systems seek out your pipes as the roots are attracted to pipes because of the moisture in the soil around the pipes.

There are several other factors that can contribute to potential tree root blockages. Regional rainfall, the types of plants and trees near the pipes, the type of soil and the quality of your pipes, all come into play.

No matter how dry your soil or how pervasive your roots, tree roots will probably not be able to penetrate the pipes if they are of good quality and undamaged. On the other hand, damaged or sub-par plumbing basically guarantees tree roots access to your pipes.

Mechanically cutting and removing the blocked portion of pipe is the routine solution to roots in plumbing. But, this method often results in damaged pipes that roots just grow right back into. That’s why many modern tree root specialists recommend preventive measures and alternative root removal techniques such as Vaporooter.

Tree Roots Exposed – Use Vaporooter To Safely Manage The Roots Without Killing The Tree

Tree Root Removal From Pipes Without Using Chemicals

There are two surefire ways to remove tree roots from pipes and protect plumbing from further tree root intrusion. One: dig up the pipes, cut out the section that hold the roots, and replace the plumbing with new, root resistant pipes. And two: completely remove all plants that could grow into plumbing.

Unfortunately, these options are all but infeasible to the average home or business owner. This system of tree root removal is expensive, and in some cases, impossible.

On top of those drawbacks, cutting the roots can actually make the trees (and roots) grow faster. Add to that the fact that replacing sections of pipes weakens plumbing, which raises the chance that tree roots will find their way back into pipes. This method of removal could make the situation ten times worse!

Some plumbers recommend this removal method for emergency situations only.

Alternative methods might be just as ineffective. Pipes can be relined with cement or mortar, which seals the pipes and kills invasive roots. But, cement often cracks when the surrounding ground shifts and the compromised pipes become a welcome mat for nearby tree root systems.

Other, interesting, non-chemical solutions exist. One method creates a new pipe inside existing plumbing, rerouting water through the new pipe and killing the roots that live in the pipes. Plumbers feed a cloth-like, collapsed pipe down the plumbing system and then fill the pipe with cold water which expands the pipe and activates chemicals that harden the cloth. Voila! A new pipe inside your old pipe.

Another method does the exact opposite. A new PVC liner is placed around the existing damaged pipe, cutting off root access to the old pipes and forming a new plumbing system.

Inside and outer pipe replacement is often more cost effective than substitution of pipe sections, but there are many chemical alternatives that are cheaper, easier and longer lasting, including Vaporooter.

Preventing Damage to Trees

For the most parts, trees are a big bonus to property values. They make the land more attractive, they hold down topsoil and they provide shade. Many of the positive qualities of trees get ignored the second a root system infiltrates a pipeline. Some people will do anything to rid their pipes of root blockages, including the destruction of the intruding tree.

But, what if you want to prevent damage to the tree?

Just so you know, your trees will be safe if the tree roots are removed by rodding, cutting, or flushing methods. Unfortunately, one of the top reasons for the trees safety is the fact that cutting is good for the roots, it will cause your tree to flourish; but some of that flourishing may cause the roots to grow right back into the line.

Chemical pipe treatments contain herbicide, but it’s usually in doses that are just strong enough to kill the tree roots inside the pipe and deter further root growth in the surrounding soil.

Real damage to trees only occurs when there is multiple blockages, severe root growth, and damaged or crushed pipes. These situations are cause for an excavation of the trees and pipes. Large portions of the tree root system will have to be removed, which may end up killing the tree.

Fibrous tree roots will spread out to about 1 1/2 times the height of the tree, but they don’t need all those roots to survive. As a rule of thumb, trees generally only need roots that spread out as far as the canopy. Too much tree root removal will make the tree unstable, and it could topple over onto your home or property.


5 Things You Can Do To Prevent Blocked Drains

Here are a few measures that go a long way to prevent roots from infiltrating and destroying your pipes.

  1. Use pipes made of Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) for new and replacement drains. PVC pipes are strong enough to repel the tree roots. Experts agree that PVC is the best material for reducing the risk of tree root blockages.
  2. Don’t plant trees near pipes. This seems simple enough, but many home and business owners don’t realize what constitutes as ‘near’ when we’re talking about tree roots.   Many Australian trees have roots with an incredibly wide spread.
  3. Choose proper foliage. Eucalyptus, for example, can have roots systems that spread out as much as 60 meters. Hills Weeping Fig, on the other hand, can have a root spread as small as 6 meters.
  4. Maintain your pipes. Wear and tear, cracks, and leaks can cause nutrient-rich water to seep into the soil around your pipes. This attracts tree roots like mad.
  5. Routinely check and clear your sewer drain. Though roots can be attracted to any type of water-bearing line, they are most often lured towards sewer drains. Have an expert come by and clear roots out of your pipes before they become a big problem.


5 Methods to Clear Tree Roots From Pipes

  1. Rodding: Plumbers stick a ratchet (a bar with teeth) down your pipe to break up the root block. They then send another bar down to cut and clear the debris.
  2. Jetting: Plumbers will use a hose with a special nozzle to direct a powerful jet of water at the block. With this method there is a big risk that the jet won’t be able to break up the blockage and you may have to pay for a more hard-hitting solution.
  3. Root Cutting: This process uses the same high-pressure water as jetting, but in this case the water is more directed, and is used to cut the roots before flushing them out. Cutting the roots usually encourages new root growth and they could grow back faster and stronger.
  4. Chemicals: This treatment is a heavy foam that contains herbicides. How a chemical treatment works depends on how bad the root block is. Less dense root masses can be forced out by the pressure of the foam as it travels down the pipe. More dense masses will have to be jetted first. The foam seals cracks in the pipes caused by the roots, and the herbicides hinder further root growth. You’ll have to treat pipes near root systems at least once a year by using Vaporooter; this is the leading product to get this done.
  5. Dig out and Repair: This method requires excavation of the pipes and roots. Although fairly permanent, this method is often only used in extreme situations, such as the total collapse of a main drainage pipe. The costs can be quite high when you have to dig to remove tree roots.


Remove Tree Roots with Vaporooter

In order to ensure the free flow of fluids throughout the sewer system, it is important to remove tree roots from sewer pipes. Unfortunately, sewer pipes are a draw for tree roots as they tend to grow toward moisture through a continuous process that occurs at the end of the root.

Roots in sewer pipes are the result of roots growing one cell at a time at the end of the root. This process allows the root to penetrate extremely small openings in the pursuit of nourishment, leading to roots in drains. Once a tree root problem occurs, it can divide hundreds of times to form an enormous mass of tender root ends.

Vaporooter emerged onto the scene more than 40 years ago as municipalities needed to address clogged drain issues and to develop a process to remove tree roots. Vaporooter is a chemical compound protected by the EPA, therefore it must be applied with the use of a Mini Foamer machine by a licensed applicator to ensure that it safely and truly penetrates the roots in sewer pipes.

The machine generates the foam and pumps it to deliver optimal sewer root control to remove roots in pipes. The applicator is trained to ensure this process to remove the roots delivers foam throughout the clogged drain to ensure proper contact with all tree roots. This helps to deliver safe and effective control of roots in sewer pipes without tree root damage.

Vaporooter should be used within six to eight weeks of a new sewer system installations to avoid a clogged drain later on.  If you want to avoid roots in sewer pipes, learn how Vaporooter can be used to remove tree roots. If this process is done annually, it can prevent the cracking of pipes caused by live tree roots in sewer lines.

When the herbicides present in the Vaporooter penetrate the tree roots in drains, it bursts the root, causing it to die and decay. The herbicide combination enables grease and slime to be stripped away from tree roots in the sewer pipes to allow for deep penetration in the root mass to inhibit root cell division and growth for up to three years.

The Vaporooter is truly the most effective method to remove tree roots from sewer pipes. To avoid tree root damage, you must first remove the roots from a clogged drain with an auger to clean out the root mass. Sewer root control is inhibited if Vaporooter is immediately applied unless your Vaporooter applicator can overcome the obstacle of “bleeding sap”.

When a tree root is cut during the initial treatment to remove roots in pipes, the tree roots respond very quickly by “bleeding” a sap that assists healing and regrowth. Think of it as the tree’s survival method. The bleeding sap can block the absorption of the Vaporooter foam for a number of days. If application is done six to eight weeks after the roots are cut, the Vaporooter foam is efficiently maximized in the application.

Vaporooter should be applied to tree roots in sewer lines every year to to address your tree root problem. This process to remove tree roots in sewer lines should be ongoing maintenance as once tree roots have found a nutrient source, they will continue to seek that source and continue to grow. You cannot control the habits of the tree, but you can prevent tree roots in pipes with Vaporooter.

Sanafoam Vaporooter II versus traditional methods of dealing with tree root blockages.

Tree root infiltration in sewage pipes can lead to blockage of and overflow in the draining system, the destruction of the system itself and even the replacing and relining of the pipes. The traditional methods of dealing with this problem involve short-term fixing, not long-term solutions and prevention.

The most widespread traditional method of dealing with a live root invasion problem is the cutting of the root. Although this may seem like a good immediate response, the long term result is disastrous. The cutting leads to rejuvenation and strengthening of the root, which becomes an even more forceful enemy of the pipes. Plus, some types of roots, like the ones that grow along the length of the pipe, are very difficult to cut due to their shape and position.

The modern efficient alternative is the Sanafoam Vaporooter, a combination of herbicides that leads to the weakening and later killing of the unwanted roots. The effect of the herbicides can be as long as three years, if proper retreatment is applied. Unlike the cutting of the root, which offers immediate response, the clearing of the pipes with the Vaporooter can take up to six months, as the natural decay of the killed roots cannot happen overnight. If the treatment is reapplied after six months, efficacy can be as high as 99 percentage.

While cutting of the tree roots solves the blockage problem, it does not prolong the life the pipes. Vaporooter can destroy even the small root cells which intrude into small cracks in the pipe. By removing these elements, the pipe cracks can close up under the ground weight.

Because cutting the tree only momentarily solves the problem and does not prevent further problems from forming, root invasions are dealt with only when they become an emergency. Urgent interventions, which may even involve the replacing of the pipes, are very costly and time-consuming. Vaporooter, however, is much more efficient cost and time-wise, because it solves and prevents root invasion problems, controlling them at all times and preventing them from getting out of hand.

Vaporooter is environment-friendly, as it only affects the roots inside the pipe, in the pipe wall and very close to the pipe. As it is biodegradable and non-acidic, it does not bother the trees and plants above the pipe. Cutting the roots, however, as they lead to even stronger roots, may create severe blockages which require pipe replacing, a possibly invasive method for the surrounding vegetation.