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Plumbing Terms

You’re going to want to be prepared for what your plumber has to say about the tree roots blocking your pipes. Maybe you’ve already talked to your plumber but you didn’t completely understand everything he said.

In any case, here’s a list of terms that may be basic to your plumber, but not so basic to you:

Backfill: Soil used to refill a trench that was dug up to excavate pipes.

Bedding: Material laid under a pipe that supports it and keeps the pipe from shifting in the soil.

Boundary Trap: A point of disconnection between your property/properties sewer and the local authority’s  main. All your sanitary  plumbing runs to this trap. It has a water seal to stop the smell from the sewer coming back up the line.

Cement Mortar Joint: A socket joint or pipe bend made out of cement.

Choke: A blocked drain.

Clearout: See I.O.

Conduit: A fancier word for pipe.

Defect: Decaying material, abnormality or obstruction in pipes that affects your plumbing.

Sanitary Drain: The plumbing (within your property line) that carries waste water away from your home or business. This type of drain includes any fitting or pipe that’s outside of the building.

House Drain: Plumbing within your sanitary drain system that carries waste water from sinks, toilets, equipment and tubs. This type of drain includes any plumbing that’s inside of the building.

Drainage Diagram: A map or plan of the approved sewer lines throughout your property; available from your local water authority, usually attached to a property ”contract of sale”.

Drainoscopy: A drainoscopy is the process of surveying your drainage pipelines with a high tech purpose-built camera. It really is the only way to see what is going on underground. A drainoscopy will show pipes, pipe joints, tree root penetrations, damage or even collapsed sections of pipe. A drainoscopy can be  recorded and forwarded to you via email.

Helio: Plumbers over the age of 30 refer to this. See Drainage Diagram.

Infiltration: Unintended ground or storm water that makes it’s way into the sanitary/sewer drainage system, usually through cracks in pipes or joints, or tree root penetrations.

Installation: The creation of your network of pipes and fixtures or just your network of pipes and fixtures.

I.O. Inspection opening; a point of access into your house drains and branches.

Main: Usually owned and maintained by the local “Water authority”.

Pulling: Manually removing pipe obstruction by pulling a disk through the plumbing.

Rodding: Manually removing pipe obstruction using a system of jointed rods, like an electric eel.

Root Foam: A chemical foam mixture applied to pipes after mechanic root removal to prohibit future plant intrusion and reinforce pipes.

Root Penetration: Tree roots growing into plumbing, pipes, drains and sewers.

Rubber Ring Joint: A type of pipe joint seal that’s made out of chemically treated rubber circa; 1970-85

Sewer Main: The publicly owned pipes that carry waste water away from your property.

Sludge: Sort of the opposite of scum, this is pipe obstruction that sinks to the bottom of plumbing.

Spigot or Socket Joint: The male end of a pipe.

Sullage: Household waste water; specifically from sinks, kitchens and laundries.

Surcharge: Pipe or drain overflow cause by a combination of plumbing blockages and an abundance of rain. It could be from the main.

Surcharge Gully: An outside drain which may have a tap over. It is lower than your lowest floor drain, so that surcharge occurs here, not inside your home. It also has a water seal.

Tree roots don’t like wet feet

Even though tree roots get into pipes seeking water, they don’t like to be in the water all the time.

Excavated soil allows the fine tree roots to move along the top of and into the pipe joints and then down into the water flow.

In permanently water charged ground, tree roots rarely appear in the sewer because they don’t like to be continually immersed in water.

Tree roots enter pipes through the joints

Clay sewer pipes provide a great opportunity for tree roots to get into your pipeline.

These pipes are usually 2-3 foot or 600-900mm long and there could be up to 50 individual pipes, bends and junctions in a 30 metre (100ft.) pipeline.

That means there are at least 50 pipe joints for a tree to get its roots into your sewer pipes and helps explain why you can have multiple blockages in your pipes.

To excavate and repair or reline where the tree roots are getting in today doesn’t mean the tree roots won’t get in a little further downstream.

Vaporooter treats every joint in the pipeline.

Tree roots get in through the joints

Tree roots in drains start out small

Do you know how small tree roots are when they enter your sewer drains?

Believe it or not, the tree roots that enter your drains through the small cracks in the pipe joints are finer than the hairs on your head or the purest Australian wool.

Once they find their way into the cracks and pipe joints they multiply.

How tree roots get into pipes #3


Tree roots grow into cracks in the joints of sewer pipes that may have been there even before the pipes were used.

Hard to believe but envisage this.

Your friendly plumber has dug a trench, laid the new earthenware pipes, cemented all the joints, then proceeded to back fill the trench.

The very process of backfilling the trench is enough to put pressure and fine cracks in the cement joints.

That is just enough to let the tree roots know that warm condensation is nearby.

Neighbours tree roots in your pipes

Tree roots growing under the fence is multiplying the number of over the fence disputes between neighbours.
As trees mature, their roots spread and sometimes, go under fences and into neighbouring properties’ sewer pipes.
Periods of no rain will see tree root systems spread in all directions in their search.

Many homeowners without a single tree on their property will still get a blocked drain caused by tree roots from their neighbours’ trees; sometimes 2 or more houses away. That is an inconvenience!

However, Vaporooter is a cost-effective way to stop tree roots in your drains and maintain neighbourly relationships.

I don’t want to live like this!

Sonia, from Bronte asked, “What does your Vaporooter Guarantee actually mean?” You could hear the fear in her voice!

Sonia lives on the first floor of an 8 storey block of home units. “About every 3 months we get a blocked drain caused by tree roots in the pipes under our building.”

“Depending on the type of tree, that’s not unusual,” I said.

“You don’t understand,” she said as her throat began to tighten. “When we get a blockage, all the sewer and waste water flushed by the residents on the 7 floors above, hits the blockage in the carpark and backs up through the floor drain in my bathroom.”
overflowing toilet Yuk!
“Ouch, Do you mean everything?’

“Yes, everything. Poo, condoms, tampons, cotton wool buds, toilet paper. It’s absolutely disgusting. It makes me want to throw up just thinking about it, running from the floor drain in my bathroom, out the door and all over the hallway and lounge room carpet.”

“But, why are you so upset now?” I asked.

“It’s been 4 months since it happened, so it’s gonna happen again soon. I don’t want to live like this!”

I actually had this conversation on April 8th 2016.

The Body corporate committee are getting other opinions on Tree root treatments for drains.

I feel for Sonia.

Tree root Poonami closes Coogee beach

Sydney Australia has many world famous beaches. Yesterday morning, April 14th 2016, one of her crown jewels, Coogee Beach, had to be closed after a Sydney Water sewer main in nearby Dudley Street had a blockage that overflowed into the Randwick City council stormwater drains.

Daily Telegraph 2016 04 14

Daily Telegraph 2016 04 14

The blockage was caused by tree roots growing in the Sydney Water sewer main.

The overflowing sewer spilled into a stormwater pipe that discharged into the ocean, right under Coogee Surf club.

Randwick City council closed the beach and drained the Ross Jones pool next to the Coogee Surf club in the afternoon on a day when holidaying school kids and tourists alike were enjoying our beautiful autumn weather and pleasant 21 degree water temperature.
2014 04 14 Whats that smell
The Sydney Morning Herald reports the beach has been re-opened today after time and tide have cleaned up the beach overnight. Sydney Water technical crews were testing the water quality this morning.

The disappointing part is that this tree root blockage in the sewer pipe was totally preventable.

Cities across Australia are currently using Vaporooter to protect their sewer assets, drastically reducing maintenance costs and preventing sewer overflows like the Poonami that closed Coogee beach.

Vaporooter Helps Strata Prevent $40,000 Sewer Replacement

Tree Root Photo-1
Location: Clovelly, Sydney
Occupants: Mostly women over 40. 2 with teenage children.
Home: Block of four 2 bedroom flats 2 up, 2 down circa 1920
Trees in Vicinity: Tree lined Street, many large Hills Weeping Fig (Ficus Microcarpa Var.)

In total we have billed this client $9,772.00 for tree root cutting and repairs.

In March 2010, they finally indicated their interest in applying Vaporooter to control the tree roots in and around their sewer pipes.

The quote to apply Vaporooter is $1,586.00. This comes with a 12-month Guarantee.

The estimated cost to renew this sewer around both sides of the building and out to the sewer main in the street is estimated to be an astonishing $40,000.00.

The roots from the trees in this street are widespread and we have attended to blocked drains in houses and unit blocks up and down the street. The roots are getting stronger and without Vaporooter, a full sewer replacement will be the only (costly) alternative.

Some of the residents have indicated that instead of applying Vaporooter, they will lobby the Council to cut down the trees. That would change the entire streetscape and severely diminish their property value above the $40,000 sewer replacement and well beyond the preventative Vaporooter solution that is guaranteed to solve the problem.

This beautiful period block of flats, a 5 minutes walk from the beach is on a street lined with Hills weeping fig trees.
You know the kind; they produce the most beautiful summer shade with birds attracted to the fruit. The branch canopy stretches right across the street. But, so does the root system of these magnificent specimens.

We were first called to this property to attend a blocked drain in May 2005. The problem was tree roots from the specimens on the public footpath at the front of the property. The ground floor flats were the worst affected. Not only did their toilets back up when they flushed them, but when the flats upstairs flushed their toilet, that also came up and sometimes overflowed in the ground floor toilets.

That’s called The U-Tube (poo-tube) effect!

We recommended to the owner occupiers that Vaporooter would control the tree roots in their sewer. They declined to take up the offer.

In the 5 years since, we have attended to this sewer blocked by tree roots 7 times. We have carried out excavations to repair sections of drainage damaged by this aggressive tree root system. This unfortunately includes costly and inconvenient weekend and after hours callouts.

Questions about Vaporooter?

No matter where you are in Australia, if you have a blocked drain caused by tree roots and you want to discuss the situation, please ring me on 1800 637 600.

Every situation with tree roots in sewer pipes is different!

If you know that tree roots are causing your blocked sewer pipes but you’re not sure Vaporooter will work in your situation, I want you to contact me personally to discuss the situation.

As a regular reader of this blog you already know there are several ways to Stop Tree Roots in Drains.

Root cutting: Makes the roots grow back Thicker and Stronger!

Pipe excavation: Damages gardens, lawns and footpaths. It is messy and can be very expensive!

Pipe relining: Its expensive!

Vaporooter will do what all these processes do …..at a fraction of the cost!