Root ingress affecting below ground drainage is an issue which is often overlooked by housebuilders.  Why? Because it’s a problem that may not raise its head until years, sometimes decades, after a development has been built.

Here, Steve Jeffries, Product Manager – Foul Water Systems at Wavin UK, discusses why developers should take root ingress seriously during the planning and development stages, and outlines some cost-effective solutions that minimise the risk.

Sustainability is now a key driver in home buying choices. This goes beyond simply the energy efficiency of a home, to include the materials and systems that have been used to build a property or development. Coupled with a consumer desire for green spaces close to their home, this is prompting housebuilders to consider including more trees within developments.

Unfortunately, trees can also present a long-term, below ground drainage challenge. The more trees planted, the greater the likelihood of root ingress occurring. When this happens, traditional methods of removal can be time-consuming, disruptive and extremely costly for whoever is responsible for the property at the time, in addition to being harmful to the environment.

It’s an issue that could get worse over the next few decades, as more trees are planted in residential developments. Root ingress causes debris to gradually build up over time, causing blockages in drainage and sewerage systems. Eventually, this leads to non-functioning pipework and hard-to-reach problems.

Combatting root ingress

Once the roots have gained access to the pipes, there are three main ways to resolve this issue: cutting the roots, drain relining and excavation. The first is the equivalent of putting a plaster over a broken leg – it is only a temporary solution as the roots will grow back over time. Additionally, this can have a harmful effect on the environment by preventing trees from absorbing as much CO2 as they should.

Drain relining offers quick results, but its use is highly situational and dependent on how accessible the repair is from the line. In many cases, it simply isn’t a viable option. Finally, although excavation can tackle the most severe manifestations of root ingress, it can be a very costly process, and potentially harmful to the environment.

Clearly, leaving a legacy of expense, disruption and damage is something that housebuilders should be keen to avoid. So, what can be done?

Prevention rather than cure

One of the most effective ways to combat the issues caused by root ingress is to stop it from happening in the first place. RootSeal, by Wavin OsmaDrain, is technology that can gently discourage roots from penetrating pipe joints. It does this by using an inhibitor consisting of a natural occurring additive, which acts like a forcefield against root growth around the socket and seal.

This will instantly reduce the need for costly and disruptive repair work further down the line, and in turn protect a housebuilder’s long-term reputation. The use of RootSeal has also been proven to have no negative impact on roots, surrounding soil or wildlife. Given that it comes at no extra cost to the housebuilder, RootSeal is the type of innovative and long-term solution that can make a genuine difference to below ground drainage within developments.

A housebuilder’s responsibility

This technology can prove vital when designing a holistic Sustainable Drainage System (SuDS) which includes natural elements like swales, basins and ponds to help manage flooding risks. Trees will often be a core component of these SuDS, which is when the inclusion of innovative solutions such as RootSeal is vital.

By combining natural SuDS with below ground drainage attenuation tanks, like Wavin’s Q-Bic Plus, and supporting the pipework with technology like RootSeal, developers can help to mitigate the threat of flooding, and ensure their system’s longevity isn’t impacted by ingress.

By adopting this kind of approach to housebuilding – one which uses long-term thinking and sustainable products – housebuilders can safeguard their reputations and support the environment.

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