Indoor plumbing problems are a pain in the neck. But what many Sacramento homeowners don’t realize is that their problems may not originate indoors. Much of what we think of as “indoor plumbing” — from tap water to toilets — relies on a lot of outdoor infrastructure, and that can need repairs too. If you’re experiencing a water main break or problem, odds are trees are the root of your problem (yes, we see what we did there; sorry). Ace Plumbing can help!
How Tree Roots Cause Plumbing Problems
Natural forces may be slow, and can seem gentle, but they’re inexorable. Trees are no exception. They need water and nutrients to survive, and their roots will naturally follow where those things are available. A hairline crack in a water main or sewer line may leak too slowly to show signs on the surface, but to a tree, that small leak is a veritable buffet. Over time, roots can grow into the crack, making it bigger, and causing further leakage, obstructions, and damage along the way.
Identifying Causes Of Water Main Break or Sewer Problem
Unlike a leaky faucet, it’s harder to tell when you have a problem with your sewer, septic tank, or water main. But it’s not impossible; there are a number of telltale signs left behind, and if you notice them adding up, it’s worthwhile to call us for sewer repair or water main repair. You might feel a bit silly if it turns out to be a minor problem, but call anyway; we’re here to help, not judge.
Keep an eye out for these signs:
- Slow drainage can be caused by a garden-variety grease clog or obstruction, but if you’ve addressed that and the problem persists, it’s time to look elsewhere
- Low water pressure from taps may be a sign of a water main blockage
- Odd smells from your drains or tap water can be a sign of bacterial growth or cross-contamination
- Ground moisture or persistent puddles when there hasn’t been rain should tell you something’s wrong
- A patch of lush green grass — especially if it’s a different color than the surrounding vegetation — isn’t a good sign either
- Higher water bills in the absence of higher water use often indicates a water main problem
Steps You Can Take To Prevent Plumbing Damage
So how do you head these problems off? Options are limited, but Popular Mechanics has a few simple yet effective tips:
- Know where your lines are so that any steps you take don’t cause damage; your local DPW or utility company should be able to furnish this information, or you can dial 811 for the national “Call Before You Dig” hotline.
- Plant plumbing-friendly plants that have shallow root systems that are less likely to cause damage.
- Use barriers to protect your pipes from root incursions, be they chemicals like copper sulfate or potassium hydroxide to inhibit growth, or physical barriers made of wood, metal, or plastic to physically sequester your pipes from root incursions (but reach for the phone and refer to point one before you reach for the shovel).
Water Main and Sewer Line Repair: DON’T Do This!
In the event of a root incursion or leak, one thing you absolutely shouldn’t do is try to solve the problem on your own. We’ve seen a range of “solutions” to root incursions online, a few of which involve calling a landscaper and others of which involve pouring massive quantities of lye, herbicides, or bleach down the drain.
A landscaper can remove the offending tree(s), but you’ll still need plumbing repairs. Chemicals, meantime, can cause far more problems than they solve, including further pipe damage, killing off friendly bacteria in septic systems, and even severe personal injury. Besides, any pipe that’s leaking is either letting chemicals into the surrounding soil (killing plants and possibly causing yet more damage) or into your drinking water (possibly sickening or injuring you and your family). And after all that, you still won’t solve the problem.
So if you’re experiencing a plumbing problem due to root incursion, call Ace Plumbing. We offer video diagnostics, trenchless sewer and water line replacement and repair, and more to homes and businesses in the Sacramento area!