5 Warning Signs of Tree Root Intrusion in Your Sewer Line

Trees on your residential property can provide shade and beauty. However, untamed tree roots can sometimes pose a threat to your home. In most of Australia, older homes tend to have earthenware or clay plumbing that wears out over time. When the moisture from a broken sewer line pipe tempts one of your trees, the roots may begin to intrude the pipework.

Because most of this intrusion happens out of sight, many home owners don't realise there's an issue until the root intrusion becomes extensive. In this blog, we list five common warning signs that may indicate that your trees are attempting to take over your sewer line.

1. Abnormal Tree Growth

You probably don't often notice changes your tree's growth patterns. Most mature trees continue to grow at a slow, even pace unless their situation changes. If a specific tree has worked its way into your sewer line, the plant is likely getting significantly more moisture than your other landscaping.

If a certain tree suddenly appears greener or grows more quickly, especially compared to your other plants, the abnormal growth could indicate a plumbing issue.

2. Backflow

The purpose of your sewer line is to transport wastewater away from your home. This wastewater includes what flows down your sink and tub drains in addition to actual sewage. When tree roots intrude on your sewer line, the organic material may prevent the line from draining fully.

If you notice water backing up in any of your appliances, have your pipes professionally cleaned. If a normal cleaning doesn't resolve the issue, tree roots may be at fault.

3. Foul Odours

Because your sewer line transports wastewater, malfunctions in the pipework can make your drains stink. If you notice strong odours of sewage or rotten eggs around your drains, there could be a drainage problem.

If the drainage issue affects the main sewer line, you will likely notice the smell around multiple drains, including multiple fixtures located in different rooms. While poor drainage can occur for a number of reasons, tree root intrusion is one of the most common causes of sewer line drainage issues.

4. Sinkholes

When tree roots compromise the structural integrity of your sewer line, the actual roots and pipework won't be visible, but you may still see signs of the problem. Often, tree root intrusion causes large areas of soil to become saturated with wastewater, creating soft mud.

These muddy areas may appear sunken into the ground, especially if you have grass in your yard. The soil becomes weak and less structured when wet, which means the earth starts to shift under your grass. This movement can leave a visible indent in your lawn.

If the leak is significant, you may even notice pools of standing water in your yard above where your sewer line is buried.

5. Slow Drains

One of the earliest signs you may notice of sewer line issues is a change in drain function. Specifically, your drains may become slow or loud as water flows through them. This change in performance may indicate that tree roots have started to obstruct the line, but haven't completely blocked off the pipe yet.

If multiple drains begin to slow down around the same time, assume that the problem lies deep in the pipework rather than just below the grate. Even if the slow drainage isn't related to tree root intrusion, you will likely need the help of a plumber to diagnose and treat the issue.


If you notice any combination of the signs listed above, contact the team at A & C Plumbing. We provide complete root clearing services and can even replace the damaged pipework to prevent future intrusions.