tree roots in drains

The Root of the Problem – Tackling Tree Roots in Your Drain

While tree roots in drain or sewer pipes are not attention grabbers like fatbergs, they pose a significant and often overlooked threat to your drainage system. These resilient invaders aren’t the culprits behind pipe cracks, but rather opportunistic guests drawn to escaping moisture from tiny leaks. In this article, Drainflow, trusted experts in drain clearance, provide practical guidance on effectively dealing with tree roots in your drain.


At Drainflow, we see the detrimental effects of tree root intrusion on residential and commercial properties far too often. With expertise spanning decades, we serve the areas of Beds, Bucks, Herts, and North London. Our drain clearance experts are regularly called out for the detection and skilful removal of tree roots within drainage systems.

By eradicating invasive roots, Drainflow not only halts the potential harm to pipes but also guarantees optimal drainage performance for our clients. Root cutting is a cost-effective approach for addressing root infestations in drains, avoiding the alternatives of excavation or drain replacement. In most cases, this method ground excavation is not necessary. This means you can clear blockages with minimal disruption to your property or surroundings.

Read our case study: Root Cutting in Drains

What Causes Tree Root Ingress in Drains?

Tree and large shrub roots naturally extend sideways in search of moisture and nutrients within the soil. This lateral growth often leads these roots into contact with drain and sewer pipes. When the pipes develop leaks, these opportunistic tree roots seize the chance to infiltrate.

What Causes Tree Root Ingress in Drains

Once a root gains access and enlarges these existing cracks, it creates an ideal environment for swift expansion both around and inside the pipe. Over time, this unchecked growth can cause substantial damage to your drainage system. The UK Arboricultural Association provides a range of official guidance and resources on this subject: Tree Roots and Cracks in Drains.

Symptoms of Tree Roots in Your Drain

Our underground drainage system typically operates silently and inconspicuously, precisely as it should. Nevertheless, certain telltale signs can alert us to hidden issues, particularly the intrusion of tree roots into drain or sewer pipes:

  • Blockages: If you start noticing recurrent minor blockages in various parts of your home, like sinks or showers, it’s a potential indicator of root-related obstructions within the drainage system.
  • Unpleasant Odours: Unpleasant odours emanating from your drains can signal the entrapment of waste material, possibly due to root intrusion, leading to blockages and backups.
  • Standing Water: The presence of puddles near sewer lines may be a red flag, potentially indicating pipe damage or collapse caused by invasive tree roots.

Recognising these early warning signs can help you address root-related drainage issues promptly, preventing more extensive damage to your underground system.

How to Deal With Tree Roots in a Drain

The Drainflow team is regularly called out to sites for drain root removal. Root cutting is often the first step in addressing blockages within drainage systems caused by root ingress. We begin by locating the area in the pipe where tree root ingress has occurred. This requires a CCTV drain survey which provides us with 360° imagery of the affected drain interior.

In the most severe cases, such as when tree roots have completely penetrated the pipe, root cutting alone may not be enough to solve the problem; it may be necessary to remove and replace the affected section of the pipe. The problem can usually, however, be resolved by trimming away the invasive roots and repairing the point at which they’ve entered the drain.

Once we know the size and location, we’ll use drain jetting to remove the root growth. A specialist root cutter nozzle is attached to drain jetting hoses. These are placed in the drain and directional jets cut through the roots and dislodge them.

Preventive Steps to Avoid Tree Root Ingress

Minimising the risks associated with tree root ingress is essential, as these issues can lead to both unpleasant and costly consequences. The Drainflow team recommends the following proactive measures:

  1. Homebuyers’ Pre-Purchase Drain Survey: If you’re considering a property with dense tree growth nearby, most surveyors will advise a home buyers’ drain survey. This assessment allows for preventive repairs and the removal of roots that might pose a threat to the drainage system.
  2. Thoughtful Planting: When planting trees known for vigorous root growth, exercise caution by maintaining a safe distance from your drainage systems. Particular care should be taken when planting varieties like poplar, maple, willow, plane, oaks, or beeches.
  3. CCTV Survey: Many of our clients grapple with issues stemming from legacy plantings in their gardens. With proper maintenance, this can be managed effectively. A CCTV survey thoroughly inspects your pipework, providing real-time reports on your pipes’ condition.
  4. Regular Water Jetting: High-pressure drain jetting is an effective way to keep pipe systems clear of silt and eliminate water pooling. This not only ensures smooth drainage but also removes conditions that may attract nearby roots.

By adopting these measures, you can proactively safeguard your drainage system from the potential complications caused by intrusive tree roots.


Effective Solutions and Drain Maintenance to Prevent Blockages

Experiencing a drain blockage can be a distressing and frustrating, causing anxiety for both households and businesses alike. At Drainflow, we understand the urgency of such situations, which is why our expert team is always ready to respond promptly to inquiries of this nature. Our dedicated drain specialists excel at diagnosing issues and implementing immediate repairs whenever possible. It’s worth noting that the majority of our drain clearance services are non-invasive and don’t require excavation.

Many of our clients choose to invest in regular drain system maintenance. These maintenance plans are thoughtfully customised to suit specific needs, aiming to minimise the risk of future blockages. We highly recommend scheduled CCTV surveys and drain jetting as integral components of these maintenance routines, ensuring your drains remain in optimal condition.

Should we detect any fractures or corrosion during these maintenance inspections, we can swiftly address these issues before they escalate into major repairs.


If you’re grappling with the challenge of tree roots in a drain, don’t hesitate to contact Drainflow immediately. We are committed to resolving the problem efficiently and effectively. Call us on 01525 718500, and we’ll provide the expert assistance you need.