Tree Roots and Drainage Systems

Heat waves experienced throughout the UK during the summer can cause autumn and winter problems increasing infestation of tree roots in drainage pipes.

Dry weather for a long time can cause significant cracks and soil movements, which can increase the risk of displacement and cracking of the drainage pipe.

This provides the roots of trees, that are busy seeking a water source during water shortage conditions, improved access to drainpipes, increasing the likelihood of roots surviving and contributes to serious blockages. The possibility is that climate change will make this process more common.

Trees make a very valued contribution to our natural surroundings. They are essential for sustainability and a healthier atmosphere. However, trees can cause issues, such as the problems linked with both drainage systems and water shortages.

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Tree roots – affect the drainage system

Often, drainage investigations and repair work involve tree root infestations from pipes.

After the roots of the trees enter the pipe, they can have a significant impact on the efficiency of transporting the water.

They can build a significant density in the length of the pipe, then during heavy rainwater again, cause flooding. Roots also join with other ingredients, such as fats, oils, sanitary products, and wet wipes to make drainage and pipe clogging worse. Get help from a Drain Lining Company like

Clay pipes are very susceptible to the entry of roots, because of the gap in the connection between each part of the pipe. Newer plastic piping is also susceptible and there are studies that show that rubber seals connecting plastic piping are susceptible to failure under pressure from tree roots.

Future risks – drought and climate change

There is an increasing need to account for climate change in tree management and drainage. Evidence from areas that have experienced heatwaves shows that soil movements caused by cracking and shrinking of soil has increased pipe damage, thus increasing the risk of tree root infiltration. Because consumers respond to calls to save water, lower water flow has caused more pipe clogging.

In the UK, more unstable weather and increased tree root infiltration can combine to increase the risk of sewer flooding. Changes in weather patterns have encouraged the planting of more exotic tree species.

Overcoming tree-related drainage problems

The best way to prevent the inclusion of tree roots is to implement a rigorous planned and preventive maintenance program (PPM).

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This will identify the pipe that is most at risk and catch the entry of the roots of the tree at an early stage. Key elements of PPM include:

Take another look at your plans for which trees to plant and avoid species that have strong roots like maple and willow.

Conduct routine CCTV drainage survey to check for damage and signs of root entry

Keep pipes clean through drainage, to prevent accumulation of mud and other nutrients, and collecting water, which can encourage root growth

Remove tree roots by the most appropriate and cost-effective non-excavation method. This might involve using water at high pressure, robotic or electro-mechanical cutting.

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