When Nature Attacks: Tree Roots, Earth, and Ground Water Damage

Ah, trees, Earth, and water. Our Pacific Northwest home wouldn’t be what it is without them. Green, fragrant, and oh so scenic, we all love our luscious tree friends. Of course, the earth is what we’re all here for. Mountains and hills, all rolling into scenic shores. Take one look at an aerial shot of Seattle, and you’ll see, the city’s geography is completely shaped by bodies of water. From Elliot Bay to Lake Washington to the Duwamish River, Seattle is a city defined, and complimented by its waterways. Not to mention all the rain. All of this foliage, land, and moisture, as lovely as it is, can wreak havoc on your home! Tree roots, Earth and ground water can cause serious and costly damage to your home and property. Get prepared, so you’re not caught off guard when nature attacks!

Tree Root Damage

As beautiful as they are, trees can cause some serious damage to pipes. Powerful and versatile, tree roots seek water and they will stop at next to nothing, pipes included, to get it.

If you have an old home with clay pipes, you may want to call South West Plumbing and start replacing your pipes now. In a tree heavy region like ours, it’s basically a matter of time before clay pipes get cracks and fissures, and the roots encroach on the porous clay pipes. Cast iron pipes fare somewhat better than their clay counterparts when it comes to older pipes, but corrosion over time can lead to cracks and crevices, where roots will slide right in. PVC or ABS pipes typically don’t suffer from as many root invasion issues as older pipe materials, but still, if left unmaintained, cracks and breaks in seals will allow for roots to creep in and cause damage.

In order to avoid damage to pipes from tree roots, the single most important step to take is making sure you know where all your sewage and drinking water lines are located on your property. If a tree has already been planted near a pipe, keep an eye on it, and call a professional to come check it out if you have any concerns. Avoid planting trees on your property anywhere near your pipes. If your lot is tiny, and planting near pipes is inevitable for any trees, avoid the following problem prone tree species: Silver and Norway Maple, Sweetgum, River Birch, Cottonwood, Aspen, Sycamore and Some species of Magnolia. Mature trees also pose an imposition, as their roots will continue to grow, and potentially interfere with plumbing.

Earth Damage

The Earth can shift and injure your property at any time. We’ve all been warned about, “The Big One”, but have you had your plumbing checked to see if it’s earthquake safe? The last thing you should be worrying about following a natural disaster is whether or not your plumbing is functioning. So make sure your home is prepared for the worst.

 Landslides may sounds like far out issues, but they happen all the time in the Pacific Northwest on a small scale. Preparing for landslides and other erosive issues comes down to landscaping. Choose wisely, avoid stripping slopes of all roots when clearing. Removing all the roots from a hillside can cause erosion at best, and landslides at worst. Root systems, particularly those of trees, help stabilize hillsides. So if you have a hill on your property, make sure it is stable, and if there are no pipes running through the hill, and the hill is without vegetation, plant trees or shrubs! Not only will they please the eye, and add value to your home, they’ll keep it from falling off cliffs, and cliffs from falling on it.

Groundwater Damage

Water is everywhere. Water is life. One place you don’t want water however, is in your basement. Groundwater surrounds every home, but homes with deep basements are particularly susceptible to its effects. If your basement is properly waterproofed by professionals, such as those at South West Plumbing, then groundwater will be nothing to worry about. Problems are bound to arise in the dank basements of those Puget Sound residents who procrastinate and let the moisture seep into their homes, however. Mold, bacteria, and humidity can all ruin your health, and your belongings. Avoid all of that nasty stuff by being smart and waterproofing your basement. 

Copyright 2017 KING


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