Tree Roots in Drains – FAQs

Tree roots and ivy

Tree Root Ingress is probably the biggest cause of blocked drains, pipes and sewer systems in the UK and unfortunately, a root damaged drainage system can often lead to more than an overflowing manhole or grid. Tree roots in drains can compromise your drainage system and cause expensive problems which may only be fixed by pitch fibre repairs, drain relining or drain excavation.

For this reason, most surveyors would recommend undertaking a pre-purchase CCTV drain survey, where a drain specialist will inspect your drainage system and highlight any red flags, for instance, drain pipes that are in close proximity to any trees, shrubs or hedges.

Updated: December 2020

How Do Tree Roots Get Into Your Drains?

The tree roots gain access to the drain system via the pipe joints, fractures, cracks and through inspection chamber walls and benching. The majority of the drainage systems within the UK are constructed from the collar and spigot vitrified clay pipes jointed using sand & cement, these joints offer little resistance to fine tree roots which once inside develop into tap roots and root masses which then reduce the internal bore of the pipe. More modern systems installed using rubber-sealed couplings are still prone to root ingress.  These systems are often not protected by a root barrier or surrounded in concrete, though as modern systems are supposed to be flexible surrounding the joint in concrete is generally frowned upon.

How To Repair Root Damaged Drains?

At Maintain Drains, we have a variety of techniques that we can try out to remove tree roots from drains. If the tree roots have accessed the system via its joints, and there has been no major displacement to those joints, the system can be root cut and in many cases relined. If there has been major displacement to the joints or severe fracturing then excavation may be the only answer. On most domestic systems given the number of bends and junctions you get over fairly short distances, it is often a mixture of the two repair methods are required.

If you have a system that has severe ingress and major displacement of joints, but you can not excavate it, a pipe bursting method can be used, assuming there are no lateral connections or sharp changes in direction and you can winch a line through the system. Read more about our Root Removal services, including detailed descriptions of all the root removal techniques we use.

Tree Root Ingress and Root Damaged Drains

Why Do Tree Roots Enter Your Drains?

Condensation naturally occurs on the outer wall of the drainpipe, or moisture from leaking drain joints attract tree roots looking for a good nutritious feed, though I still prefer to tell customers that the tree roots find the drains because they can hear the running water inside.

Disturbed ground such as trenches excavated for drains, services and house foundations make easy travelling for a root system compared to the adjacent virgin ground, the same applies for granular and porous sub-bases for driveways and patios.

When we excavate a tree root damaged system even at two or three metres deep you can clearly see where the roots have followed the line of the original trench wall down to the drainage system. You will then often find one large taproot running the length of the drain with smaller roots branching off at each collar.

Are You Insured For Tree Root Damage To Drains?

You should be insured for tree root damage, most major insurance providers will cover this, although, some policies may not include this cover. Tree Root Ingress to drains has always been an insurable risk, however, following the downturn in the economy some insurance companies have been found to try and knock a few tree root related drainage claims back.

Do you Have a Problem with Tree Roots in Drains?

Contact Maintain Drains to discuss your root ingress problems with one of our friendly experts. Maintain Drains covers the Poole and Bournemouth area, but we can also travel to the wider Dorset or Hampshire area to provide our professional drain services. Best of all, we operate 24/7 so we can also help you deal with any emergency drain services. Our team can give you the best solution at the best price. Give us a call on 01202 300040.


What is the best root killer for drain pipes?

One of the most effective root killers for drain pipes is to call out the professionals. Professionals have knowledge and experience on how to hand and solve the problem you’re facing.

Can tree roots damage drains?

Yes, tree roots can damage drains by infiltrating and growing within the pipes, causing blockages, leaks, and structural damage. Tree roots are naturally drawn to sources of moisture and nutrients, making drain pipes an attractive target for intrusion, especially if they are cracked, damaged, or poorly sealed.

Are there chemicals available to kill tree roots in drains?

Yes, there are chemicals available to kill tree roots in drains, but they should be used with caution and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It’s always best practice to reach out to professionals with knowledge and experience.

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.