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Costs Associated With Tree Root
Damage To Sewer Pipes

tree-pipes Tree roots can easily crack and break underground pipes, causing high damage bills

As much as trees add value to property, tree roots have the ability to inflict significant damage to pipes and drains when left unchecked. Sewer pipes and drains are especially at risk since they offer plentiful sustenance in terms of fertilizer to tree roots which once discovered by local trees will continue to be sought after with destructive tenacity.

Tree Root damage to a sewer pipe or drain can run anywhere from $2,000 to as much as $10,000, depending on the extent of the damage, the necessary fix and prevention measures required. Keep in mind that costs can be even higher if the tree must be cut down and the stump removed not to mention if gas and other utility lines happen to be next to the sewer pipes or drains. The most catastrophic situation is when a road, sidewalk or other permanent structure needs to be torn up to access the pipes and then replaced once the pipe damage has been located and repaired. 1

Tree Root Damage Repair Options:

Excavate And Renew

ground-openTree root damage can carry high repair costs, unless you control root growth with Vaporooter

The excavate and renew  method used on a root-damaged sewer pipes and drains is the traditional approach to a tree root problem and can average roughly $180-200 per linear metre, or $5,000 to $6,000 for a 30 metre section of sewer pipe, after excavation.

Pipe Relining

Trenchless options or pipe upgrades commonly referred to as pipe relining are an alternative to excavation. The relining process involves inserting a new, smaller-diameter fiberglass pipe or liner secured inside the existing pipe or drain. 2

With minimal excavation a relining option can still cost upwards of $1000 per metre. 3

Tree Root Damage Considerations:

Excavation And Repair:

A few things to keep in mind when trying to tackle the repair of tree root damaged pipes, is that replacement can require a lot of invasive, troublesome, messy, inconvenient and costly excavation. In many cases, excavations have required, concrete footpaths, pavers and even marble tiles to be removed and then reinstated upon completion of the excavation and repairs. Each step of the process takes time, effort and has a cost as well as inconvenience associated with it.

house-damagedDon’t leave it too long or
the damage bills will mount!

Pipe And Drain Replacement

Pipe replacement might require a permit in certain locations, such as across council-owned footpaths and roadways. In some instances, traffic diversions and detours are required to be planned and in extreme circumstances where high traffic flows need to be maintained, considerable costs may be associated for human traffic management.

These situations can add unexpected and often very costly fees to the repair project. Any pipes or drains damaged by tree roots that need to be replaced can cause damage to nearby landscaped gardens, turf as well as trees and hedges. The replacement costs of all of these must also be assessed. 4

Why Tree Roots Damage Pipes

One of the primary reasons tree roots damage pipes is because sewer pipes and drains carry much sought-after ‘bio-rich’ nutrients that fertilise and nourish the tree. Once a source of food is found, the tree instinctively will seek other sources (leaks) up and downstream from the initial break in the pipe or drain. This causes increasingly more damage which is why it’s imperative that the tell tale signs of tree root damage in pipes be noticed as soon as possible.

roots-in-pipesRoots can infiltrate deep into the pipe before you know it

Tree Roots Don’t Just Damage Pipes, they’ll Also Damage Foundations

Foundation damage can be considerable when a tree has focused its roots on such a barrier. A damaged foundation can escalate the cost of tree root damage, especially since the minimum price for (residential) foundation repairs is $3,000. Throughout the industry, it’s been reported that the average residential foundation repair costs due to crushing from tree roots is $7,500. That unfortunately means quite a few such cases exceed $10,000 in total tree root damage costs. 5

While certain signs can become apparent, such as cracked walls, cracked windows or doors not closing properly, a structural engineer may be needed to provide a thorough assessment of the problem. A foundation inspection and report can cost $300-$800. A soil report may also be necessary, which is provided by a geotechnical engineer and can cost $500-$2,000.6

Damage to the foundation is considered to be a serious defect to a home or building and can make the property non-marketable. At the same time, many lenders will not lend money on a home with foundation defects, making the property nearly worthless until the costly foundation problems are repaired. 7

The good news is that foundation damage due to tree roots is less common than sewer pipe or drain damage.

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