Baruch Habah, Queens Jewish Link readers! I’d like to say that summer is winding down, but with the ongoing heat and humidity still going strong, a bit more air conditioning, and tall glasses of iced lemonade (or your preferred beverage) may be needed to keep cool. Summers can also be a great time for family gettogethers, BBQs, backyard parties, and long shmoozy (yes, that’s a word I just made up) talks on our porches. Folks, I’m talking about roots! Being together and enjoying time with family and friends. Roots are important, except when they end up in our sewer lines! Why on earth does that happen?! Logic would dictate that plants need, light, and water. What’s going on? Well, readers, here’s a little bit of information that may shed some light on the issue:


Why Do Roots Grow in Pipes?

A tree’s root system is generally two or three times longer than the tree is tall -- it’s that big and that wide-reaching. The larger the tree, the deeper and more complex its root system will be, and the further it will have to travel for moisture and nutrients.

Cracks in pipes and small leaks create humidity that attracts roots, causing them to enter the pipe and grow, slowly expanding and filling the pipe until it’s completely blocked. Root obstructions can quickly become a serious problem, threatening the integrity of your sewer system and property.

Here are some signs to watch for:

Slowly-flowing drains are often the first sign of root damage. If you flush your toilet and it drains very slowly or you hear a gurgling noise, there’s a good chance roots have entered the pipes. Note: The risk is especially high in older homes or properties with large trees nearby!

Sinkholes are normal in some parts of the country (Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania), but they can also be a sign of serious pipe damage caused by roots. If a visible sinkhole forms in your lawn, stay away from it, and immediately call a licensed professional to come out and inspect the issue. If the problem has advanced to the sinkhole stage, your foundation may be in danger, and you should take care when traversing your property.

Toilet backups are always a huge inconvenience. When it comes to roots, however, you may find yourself wishing the problem came from something the kids flushed down the toilet. The reality is that root obstruction is one of the leading causes of clogged pipes, and it won’t go away without professional help.

Tree roots can damage sewer lines, leading to unpleasant odors inside and outside the home. If you smell rotten eggs or other bad odors, you might have a serious blockage.

Tree roots can severely damage your plumbing, sewer system, front yard, and property foundation, and lead to a wealth of internal and exterior problems. Since tree root obstruction is a serious and potentially costly problem, it’s important to consult a professional. A licensed home inspector can identify sewer issues. In my experience, homeowners first call a plumber or a drain cleaner company before the actual problem is identified. A licensed home inspector is trained to identify the problem. This inexpensive consultation can save a homeowner money before a costly repair is performed.

Keep cool and comfortable and continue to enjoy the summer!

Jay Aron is a licensed NYS Home Inspector, and seasoned Electrical Engineer, and owner of Bodeck Home Inspections in Kew Gardens Hills. He is available for home inspections including houses, condos, and co-ops. For more information, call 516-417-6111 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.