A well-functioning drainage system is the unsung hero of a smoothly running household, ensuring that wastewater is efficiently transported away from our homes. However, even the most resilient drainage systems can face challenges, and one particularly common and insidious issue is the invasion of roots into drains. Root intrusions can lead to slow drainage, foul odours, and even structural damage if left unaddressed. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricate details of identifying root intrusions, explore potential fixes for homeowners, and recommend professional drainage services when the challenge becomes more complex.

blocked drain with tree roots

The consequences of this infiltration can range from minor inconveniences to major plumbing catastrophes. Therefore, it is crucial for homeowners to be equipped with knowledge about the signs of root intrusions and strategies to tackle them effectively.


What Causes Tree Root Ingress in Drains?

Tree root ingress into drains is a common issue that homeowners may encounter, and understanding the causes behind this intrusion is crucial for effective prevention and management. Several factors contribute to tree roots infiltrating drainage systems:

Moisture Seeking:

Tree roots are naturally drawn to sources of moisture, and drains provide an attractive environment. Even small cracks or joints in the pipes can release water vapour, attracting roots towards the moisture-rich surroundings.

Nutrient Availability:

Drains often contain organic matter, which serves as a nutrient source for tree roots. As roots grow, they seek out these nutrients, further motivating them to infiltrate the drainpipes.

Porous Pipe Materials:

Older drainage systems may be constructed using porous materials, such as clay or concrete pipes. Tree roots can easily penetrate the joints and small openings in these pipes, exploiting them as entry points into the drainage system.

Pipe Age and Deterioration:

As pipes age, they may deteriorate or develop cracks. Tree roots are opportunistic and can exploit these weaknesses to infiltrate the drain system. Older pipes made of materials like clay or Orangeburg are particularly susceptible to root intrusion.

Proximity of Trees and Shrubs:

The proximity of trees and shrubs to drainage pipes plays a significant role in root ingress. Large trees with expansive root systems can extend several metres, reaching and infiltrating pipes even at a considerable distance from the tree.

Types of Trees:

Certain tree species are more prone to root intrusion than others. Trees with aggressive root systems, such as willows and poplars, are notorious for seeking out water sources, making them more likely to infiltrate drains.

Seasonal Variations:

During periods of drought, when water is scarce in the soil, tree roots may aggressively seek alternative sources of moisture, leading them to infiltrate drains. Conversely, during heavy rainfall, soil saturation can create conditions conducive to root growth towards drains.

Pressure Gradients:

The flow of water within drainage pipes creates pressure gradients. Tree roots can sense these pressure variations and may grow towards areas of higher moisture content, inadvertently infiltrating the drainpipes.


Preventing Tree Roots Growing in your Drains

While complete prevention of root ingress may be challenging, several measures can help mitigate the risk:

rainwater drain blocked with root ingress

Regular Maintenance:

Conduct regular inspections and maintenance of your drainage system to identify and address potential issues before they escalate.

Choose Non-Porous Pipes:

When installing new drainage systems, consider using non-porous materials like PVC that are less susceptible to root intrusion.

Root Barriers:

Install physical root barriers made of impermeable materials between trees or shrubs and drainpipes to deter root growth towards the drains.

Regular Tree Maintenance:

Prune or remove trees with aggressive root systems that pose a threat to your drainage system. Consult with an arborist for advice on tree maintenance.

Chemical Root Inhibitors:

Periodically use chemical root inhibitors that can be flushed into the drainage system to discourage root growth. These chemicals may create a barrier that inhibits root penetration.

By understanding the causes of tree root ingress into drains and implementing preventive measures, homeowners can minimise the risk of this common plumbing issue and preserve the integrity of their drainage systems.


Rainwater Drain Blocked With Roots? Identifying Root Intrusions

Root intrusions into drainage systems can go unnoticed until they cause significant damage. Understanding the signs and symptoms can help homeowners detect the problem early and prevent more extensive issues.

Slow Drainage:

Slow drainage is a common early indicator of root intrusion. When tree roots infiltrate the pipes, they create obstructions that impede the smooth flow of water. As a result, sinks, showers, and toilets may exhibit a gradual decrease in drainage efficiency. Pay close attention to the time it takes for water to clear from these fixtures, and if you notice a consistent slowdown, it could be a sign of roots obstructing the pipes.

Unpleasant Odours:

Root intrusions not only cause physical blockages but also create an environment conducive to the growth of bacteria and fungi. As the roots trap organic debris, foul-smelling substances can accumulate, leading to unpleasant odours emanating from the drains. If you notice a persistent and unpleasant smell, it’s crucial to investigate, as it may be an indication of a blockage caused by root intrusion.

Unexplained Changes in Water Levels:

Keep a vigilant eye on toilet bowls and floor drains for unexplained fluctuations in water levels. The intrusion of roots can disrupt the normal flow of water, causing irregular changes in levels. If you observe sudden rises or falls in water levels without an apparent reason, it might be wise to inspect the drainage system for root-related blockages.

Gurgling Sounds:

When tree roots invade the pipes, they create irregularities in the water flow. As a result, gurgling sounds may become audible during drainage. If you hear unusual noises when water is draining from sinks or toilets, it could indicate the presence of roots obstructing the pipes.

Visible Signs of Root Growth:

In some cases, particularly in outdoor drain pipes, you may visually identify signs of root intrusion. Look for cracks or openings in the pipes where roots might penetrate. Additionally, inspect the surrounding soil for signs of disturbance, such as raised areas or unusual depressions, as these could be indicative of root growth.

Repeated Blockages:

If you find yourself dealing with recurrent blockages despite regular maintenance, it may be a red flag for root intrusion. While other factors can contribute to blockages, persistent issues warrant a closer inspection, possibly with the use of specialised equipment like drain cameras.

By paying attention to these nuanced signs, homeowners can proactively identify root intrusions into their drains and take timely action to address the problem before it escalates. Early detection not only helps in preventing extensive damage but also minimises the associated repair costs.


Potential Fixes for Root Intrusions: How to stop tree roots getting in your drains

Chemical Root Killers:

Some chemical treatments are designed to kill and dissolve roots within the pipes. Follow the instructions on the product carefully, and use them cautiously to avoid harm to the environment and your plumbing system.

Mechanical Augers:

A plumbing auger, commonly known as a drain snake, can be used to physically break up and remove roots from the pipes. This method requires some skill, so be sure to follow safety guidelines and instructions.


Hydro-jetting involves using high-pressure water to clear roots and debris from the pipes. This method is effective in removing even stubborn blockages but may be best left to professionals due to the equipment involved.


When to Call Drain Professionals – PM247

If you find that the root intrusion is beyond the scope of DIY methods or if you’re unsure about the severity of the issue, it’s advisable to contact a professional drainage company like PM247. Here’s why:

Expert Assessment:

Professionals from PM247 have the experience and knowledge to accurately assess the extent of root intrusion and the resulting damage. They can provide a comprehensive analysis of the situation.

Specialised Equipment:

PM247 utilises state-of-the-art equipment, including advanced cameras and high-pressure jetting systems, to diagnose and address root intrusions effectively. These tools can identify hidden issues and provide targeted solutions.

Long-Term Solutions:

Instead of just addressing the immediate problem, PM247 can offer long-term solutions to prevent future root intrusions. This may involve installing root barriers or suggesting changes in landscaping to protect your drainage system.


Dealing with Root Ingress and Intrusions into Drains

In the intricate tapestry of homeownership, where myriad elements harmonise to create a comfortable living space, the drainage system plays a silent yet vital role. The spectre of root intrusions into drains, however, poses a challenge that demands proactive attention and informed action. As we’ve journeyed through this comprehensive guide, it becomes clear that identifying, understanding, and addressing root intrusions is essential to preserving the integrity of our homes.

Root intrusions, driven by nature’s unrelenting pursuit of moisture, can silently compromise the functionality of drainage systems. The signs are often subtle, manifesting initially as slow drainage or faint odours. However, left unattended, these seemingly minor issues can escalate into major plumbing concerns, necessitating extensive repairs and incurring significant costs.

The importance of recognising the nuanced signs of root intrusions cannot be overstated. The gradual slowing of drainage, unpleasant odours, unexplained water level changes, gurgling sounds, and even visible signs of root growth are all indicators that homeowners should heed. By being vigilant and proactive, homeowners can nip root intrusions in the bud, preventing them from growing into more complex and costly problems.

In the realm of potential fixes, we explored various strategies that homeowners can employ, from chemical root killers to mechanical augers and hydro-jetting. Each method has its place, but the choice depends on the severity of the root intrusion and the homeowner’s comfort and expertise levels. However, when faced with a more formidable challenge or when in doubt about the extent of the issue, the wisest course of action is to seek professional help.

At PM247, we are a professional drainage company equipped with the expertise and tools needed to tackle complex root intrusion issues. Our seasoned professionals offer expert assessments, employing state-of-the-art equipment like advanced cameras and high-pressure jetting systems. This not only allows us to accurately diagnose the extent of root intrusion but also enables us to provide targeted and long-term solutions.

Root intrusions into drains are not merely plumbing inconveniences; they are intricate challenges that demand a comprehensive approach. By identifying the signs early, employing appropriate fixes, and when necessary, consulting professionals like PM247, homeowners can safeguard their homes from the detrimental effects of root intrusions. This guide serves as a beacon, empowering homeowners to navigate the complexities of drainage maintenance with knowledge and confidence, ensuring the longevity and resilience of their homes for years to come.

Contact PM247 Drainage Services today for a swift and reliable resolution to your drainage concerns. We’re not just a service; we’re your dedicated partner in ensuring the longevity and efficiency of your drainage infrastructure.

Call us on 0808 250 4203 or fill in the form here to get your root intrusions fixed by a skilled PM247 drainage engineer (UK wide service).