What is the cost to remove tree roots from a stormwater line in Sydney?

Removing tree roots from a stormwater line can become the only answer to fixing a blocked drain issue in Sydney.

Summary

How can you remove tree roots from your blocked drains?

Plumber holding up tree roots pulled out of blocked drain

Having greenery and trees around a property is becoming more of a luxury these days as Sydney grows with more units and apartment blocks getting built. Trees look great, offer shade on your property, can improve privacy as well as offer shelter for wildlife. Although there are some downsides and unfortunately, tree roots enjoy finding their way into sewer and stormwater drains which often leads to blocked and damaged pipes. Sometimes you can be lucky the you can see the tree roots in an open storm water drain where you can remove the protective grille & pull the roots out. Same applies to a storm water pit that might get full of debris, you can put your hand in to pull everything out.

 

Although not everyone is as lucky as that and in most situations tree roots will start to grow through small cracks in pipework and begin to grow inside the piping as they thrive on the moisture available. Eventually they fill the opening available which leads to blockages because the water can’t flow as freely as intended. This might take months or even years to build up to a point where flooding occurs.

 

Nu Trend is a licensed plumber in Sydney that can help repair blocked drains for simple situations like a kitchen sink, blocked toilet or even outdoor drain. We are often called to visit retail shops and other public locations like this Church on York Street in Sydney. They had called us to have a blocked drain plumber investigate the cause of the constant flooding they were experiencing inside the Church. For most rainy days it wasn’t too much of an issue and not really noticeable, although during heavy rainfall periods or storms there would be a lot of flooding. This created a safety hazzard for people visiting the church & threatened to damage the flooring too.

 

By using our our CCTV Camera Inspection equipment we were able to look inside all the pipes under the property and we discovered the entire storm water line from the street all the way to the building was completely blocked with thick tree roots. They had been growing in the pipes for many years and had made their way through small cracks along the whole system.

 

In some blocked drain situations we may be able to do a High Pressure Water Jet Blast to break down the blockage but in this case it wouldn’t have been possible as they were completely filled. The high pressure water might be able to break off some of the roots but it wouldn’t be a long term solution, they’d grow back in a few months and the same issue would occur in the pipe. We always help each property owner understand the underlying problems that is causing their plumbing issue so they have choices available for how they’d like to get it fixed.

 

For a lot of situations repairing plumbing is more costly to get it completely changed vs doing short term remedial work. Although you save money in the long term because you are not paying for regular repairs or fixes. Too many people get caught out by choosing the cheap option or engaging a local plumber that only offers a quick fix, they know full well the issue will re-occur and they hope this creates more business for them later.

 

Fortunately for this blocked drain problem in Sydney the owners decided to get them repaired properly. So we spent a few days to plan the steps needed that included;

  • Obtaining Council permits to be able to cut into the footpath.
  • Remove all the debris
  • Dig up the existing piping system
  • Complete the rectification work. 
 
 

Our goal was to make sure that all the roof and surface water flowed out to the street and the new plumbing would handle heavy rainfall. We did this by replacing some of the earthern piping with more modern pvc pieces that will last a long, long time but more importantly prevent the roots from penetrating the sewage system.

 

If this type of situation is left unchecked you will eventually find the kitchen and toilet waste systems will back up that can lead to flooding in other parts of the property even if they aren’t near the trees, not to mention the  potential health risks.

 

How much does it cost to get roots removed from a blocked drain in Sydney?

If any plumber in Sydney gives you a fixed price quote over the phone to have roots removed from a blocked drain – run.


How can anyone actually know what work is required or how much damage has been done to the piping? It’s impossible without inspecting everything first or even knowing what type of piping is under the ground.


As you will see from the example below we had to eventually excavate on the property and to the street. In other situations it might require other solutions or even digging under a house with a concrete slab.


Therefore there is no single cost that can be quoted for a blocked drain repair as every scenario will be different. It might be $350 for a water jet blast through to $5,000+ for major works.

How do tree roots block drains in Sydney?

Older properties and piping can be prone to penetration from tree roots, especially if the piping is earthern or clay. 


The roots that manage to get into the line are usually no thicker than a strand of hair to begin with. 


As the tree roots feed on the water and nutrients that flow out through the pipes, they develop from little shoots to a bit mesh inside the pipe. 


If you are lucky water can still flow and you may never have any issues, but in lots of cases drainage can be effected.

How can you tell if your pipes are blocked by tree roots?

The most obvious sign is water doesn’t drain from sinks or storm water drains. At other times you may notice the ground is quite wet or there is water seeping from cracks or joins in the footpath or under walls etc. 


The situations can vary greatly and the only way to really understand what is happening is with a CCTV Camera Inspection to see inside the pipes.


Once we can see what is causing the blockage we can assess how bad the situation is and then work out potential rectification works to resolve it quickly.

What does unblocking a drain filled with tree roots look like?

Can tree roots get into pvc or concrete piping?

Roots will penetrate any small opening or crack they can find as part of their search for nutrients or water. Piping is an obvious target because of the constant availability of materials. Concrete  and PVC pipe may also allow root intrusion, but to a lesser extent than clay. PVC pipe usually has fewer and more tightly fitted joints which are less likely to leak as a result of settlement around the pipe. 

 

While concrete is obviously quite solid, generally thicker & therefore harder to break into. Although both of these materials can be cracked or damaged due to movement of the earth, extreme pressure placed on them due to new construction or things like earthquakes. The joins or the piping itself may develop small cracks that that is how a small root can make its way into a system.

How do you repair piping or blocked drains that are damaged by tree roots?

1. Manually remove the tree roots – the most obvious way to repair a blocked drain with tree roots is to manually pull as much as possible out of the system to restore some level of drainage. You will find various chemicals that are recommended that may be a solution as well, but it’s important to consider the environment & potential damage it may cause to the tree. Removing the roots doesn’t mean the pipes haven’t been damaged, there must be cracks or gaps somewhere in the system for them to get in. That should be identified to isolate the problem in future.


2. Pipe relining – there are different options available but the idea is the same, create new piping inside the existing system of pipes. Not all of them are the same and the key thing to understand is how it will fill the joints and cracks of the pipe to make sure it has a secure seal. Some of the cheaper options can still leave gaps. This method of repairing drains means there is ‘no digging’ involved and typically cheaper than a full replacement.


3. Replacing the piping –  if you don’t want to try the ‘quick’ fixes then the correct way is to replace the piping. This usually means digging up the existing parts of the system & putting in new plumbing. It is more expensive to do but it is the ideal way to ‘start again’ so to speak.  Older clay pipes are by far more susceptible to root damage and really should be upgraded to newer pipes such as PVC, which have a longer life and tend to be much more resistant to root damage.

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Rick Karagiannis - Licensed Plumber & Bathroom Renovator
Rick Karagiannis - Licensed Plumber & Bathroom Renovator

Rick Karagiannis is a licensed Plumber, Building Renovator and Director of Nu-Trend, a Sydney Plumber and Bathroom Renovations contractor. Nu-Trend has been operating since 2009 as an independent sole trader in Sydney. Rick provides all types of services for small bathroom renovations, leaking tap repairs, hot water high-pressure jet blasting and more.

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