Why do more Sydney drains get blocked by tree roots in Spring?

Why do more Sydney drains get blocked by tree roots in Spring?


Plumbing pipes that are located under the ground are susceptible to tree root infiltration. This is particularly the case for older Sydney homes and terraces with ageing terracotta sewer and stormwater pipes. The mortar that was traditionally used to seal fittings on clay pipes deteriorates over time. Clay pipes are also prone to damage and cracks, creating weak points in the pipes where the tree roots can enter.

Root systems are attracted to plumbing pipes because trees need moisture to grow. They benefit from the minerals, oxygen and composting materials often found inside plumbing pipes. As the weather warms up in Spring, root growth in pipes increases because plants are growing at a faster rate. They are also thirstier during dry weather resulting in their root systems seeking out new sources of water.

Tree roots can find the tiniest cracks or loose joints in plumbing pipes. As roots enter these openings, they grow thicker, causing increasing damage to the pipes and enabling further root invasion. Below are some tips that will protect your sewer drains and stormwater drains from blockages caused by tree root intrusion this Spring.


How to prevent tree roots blocking your Sydney Drains

For a small fee, Sydney Water can provide you with a diagram of the sewer and stormwater pipes on your property. If you are thinking about planting new greenery this Spring, make sure you use the diagram when deciding where to plant your trees. Occasionally these diagrams are out of date so another way of mapping out the pipes on your property is to get a plumber to conduct a CCTV inspection.

As a general rule, trees should be planted at least 3-5 metres away from the sewer or stormwater pipes on your property. The distance should be increased to 10 metres for faster-growing plant varieties with aggressive root systems. The size of a tree's root system is about the same as the size of the tree itself, so a large oak or gum tree's roots can spread extensively under the earth.

How to deal with blocked drains caused by tree roots

JAB Plumbing Solutions removing a large clump of tree roots blocking a drain in Sydney.

JAB Plumbing Solutions removing a large clump of tree roots blocking a drain in Sydney.

There are a few signs that indicate tree roots in the sewer or stormwater line. When a stormwater drain is blocked by tree roots you may notice flooding on your property whenever it rains. On the other hand, a blocked sewer will impact multiple plumbing fixtures in your home because none of the smaller lines inside your home will be able to drain properly.

If you suspect tree roots in the pipes, engaging the services of a Sydney blocked drain plumber to conduct a CCTV drain inspection is an important first step. An inspection will quickly uncover whether there are tree roots in the pipes, the extent of the tree root growth and any damage to the pipes. Once the problem is fully understood an appropriate strategy can be recommended.

  • Hydro jetting: Jet blasting is a cheap and effective method for removing minor tree root growth from a clogged sewer or blocked stormwater drain. Jet blasting provides a temporary respite because the roots grow will eventually grow back. However, arranging biannual or annual jet blasting will keep the tree roots in check. Water jetting costs around $350 so it may be a more cost effective solution than replacing the damaged pipes.

  • Replacing a small section of pipe: If the tree roots are entering through a loose joint or a hairline crack, the offending area of pipe can be excavated and replaced. Depending on the location, depth and accessibility of the damaged section of pipe this can be an affordable, longer term solution.

  • Installation of a new system: In some instances tree roots can grow inside a pipe until it’s completely blocked. They can also cause considerable damage to the pipes that is beyond repair. The most effective long-term solution is to replace the old sewer or stormwater system with PVC pipes. This can be an expensive job, but a new PVC system can last in excess of fifty years. Eventually, all clay pipes will need to be excavated and replaced - so it’s a matter of when not “if”.


Contact JAB Plumbing Solutions for expert drain repairs and installation

JAB Plumbing Solutions specialise in all things drains including drain installations, excavations, jet blasting, CCTV drain inspections and blocked drain repairs. We offer free quotes and 24 hour emergency assistance for urgent jobs. Call our friendly team for a free quote or second opinion.