• John Jantak

Vaudreuil-Dorion to investigate complaint regarding pipe damage caused by tree roots


Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon advised residents living in the Old Dorion sector to contact the city if they suspect that tree roots have damaged their water or sewage pipes.

Vaudreuil-Dorion is advising its residents to immediately contact the city administration if they suspect that roots from large old trees, particularly in the old Dorion district, may have penetrated their water and sewage pipes.

The issue was raised during the Tuesday evening council meeting, October 5, when a resident on Brown Avenue south of Highway 20 complained during question period that a neighbour across the street who is suffering from health issues is presently dealing with an apparent second incursion of roots into the sewage pipe leading into the home.

The suspected culprit is a silver-leaved maple tree renowned for its vigorous feeder roots which are known to crack sidewalks if planted nearby, and to clog pipes and septic systems.

Mayor Guy Pilon, who referred to his years of professional experience as an excavator, said it’s not the roots that damage the pipes, rather it’s a small crevice or fissure in the pipe itself, especially if an elbow joint is attached, that enables roots to penetrate into any small cracks or openings which eventually expand and cause more damage to the pipe.

“The pipes in this area were done many, many years ago and they may not all be in the best condition when this happens,” Pilon told Your Local Journal. “The silver maple has very deep roots and it’s always looking for a source of water or humidity. So when one is planted in front of a house, they can affect pipes but only if there is a crack already.”

The city’s policy is not necessarily to permanently remove the offending trees, but to remove and replace the affected pipe. “We check the pipes with a camera to verify the situation,” said Pilon. “If the pipe has to be changed on the part of the town, we do it, but we also recommend that homeowners replace the portion of pipe on their property.”

Pilon said most homeowners’ insurance policies should cover the cost of replacing a pipe due to root infiltration, and that the main cost of the replacement comes from the excavation work whereas the cost of a pipe is less than a few hundred dollars.

The situation would be more serious if the root system was so large that it begins to crack a home’s foundation, said Pilon, which could happen if the roots absorb all the moisture from the ground leaving the surrounding area around a house dry.

Pilon said the problem with roots infiltrating pipes does happen on occasion, primarily in the old Dorion sector, which has large maple and oak trees and the city responds quickly when informed of the problem.

When large trees begin to damage the city’s sidewalks and streets or threaten to damage a foundation, the city also acts accordingly and removes the offending tree, said Pilon. Otherwise, the city performs regular pruning to ensure they don’t affect overhead hydro and telephone lines.

“The fact is that you will never see this in areas where the pipes have been changed or in the new sectors of the city because the pipes are sealed, which was not the case many years ago,” said Pilon.

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