Robert Lamoureux | Roots in the pool drains: Big problem or little one?

Robert Lamoureux
Robert Lamoureux
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Question: Robert, we live here in Santa Clarita in a home with an inground pool. It is used daily in high volume with our five kids, and the deck drains have become an issue. They are at least partially clogged and back up. I opened one of the drains and put a small plumbing snake into it, and it extracted what looked like a giant rat, but it was very fine hairy roots.  

I worked for hours and the amount of roots did not subside, and I am at a loss as to how this has happened and how to fix it. We have the large juniper type trees for privacy in our yard, the only thing that I can tell would be the issue. We have a typical Valencia backyard, not very big, and don’t want to lose the privacy that these trees offer, but what can be done?  

How do we fix these drains now? Please help. I worry about rains in the upcoming season, causing flooding to our yard.  

— Robert C.  

Answer: Robert, it’s a good thing you are tackling this now, before a potential flood in your home. I’ve seen this very problem here in Valencia and it cost the homeowners tens of thousands of dollars in damage.  

First order of business, in my opinion, is to do away with those trees. They are obviously at the age/size where they are strong enough to break through pipe to access water, and the issue will not stop. There are countless other ways to achieve privacy in your yard. You’ll just have to research ideas and decide on what is best for your family.  

Next, you can either hire a plumber or rent a larger snake, though if you do the latter I bid you extreme caution because they can be extremely dangerous if all precautions are not taken. You obviously have a break somewhere in the pipe, and this will need to be repaired in order to avoid underground erosion.  

A camera can be run through this pipe to determine not only the blockage areas but also show the condition of the pipe. You can assume the location of the break and proceed to excavate concrete and soil, only to find out that the actual break is in another area. This is where the camera is very helpful.  

Once the area of failure is determined, excavation can begin followed by the pipe repair. Following all repairs, keep in mind that most trees are better suited for larger yards. Small yards with pools are best suited for potted trees or varieties that are not aggressive. Best of luck, and I recommend this be completed sooner rather than later.  

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