oak tree roots and a plumbing nightmare

Hi. My first post here. I'm in the throes of a plumbing nightmare. We have a lovely 50-year-old oak tree in our front yard that's wreaking havoc on our 50-year-old terra cotta sewage pipes. The sewer line is right under the tree. So with old pipes, we've had a recurrent problem with roots clogging the line, and subsequently causing an overflow of raw sewage into the basement. It hasn't been pretty. We've been putting off the inevitable -- having the tree taken down, having the old sewer dug up, and having a new sewer put in.
My concerns, and I have more than I can count, all keep coming down to:
--Will roots continue to grow after the oak tree is taken down? Should the stump be grinded to prevent this? Does anyone know the behavior of oak trees in this regard? And how deep do oak-tree roots go? Is there a concern for the landscape or foundation (the tree is terribly close to the house) once the roots start to die?
--And would you trust a lumber company who might be willing to take the tree down for free? I'm concerned that they don't have the tree-sense of a licensed arborist. I've gotten estimates from $1200 to $2100 from arborists to take the tree down. And the lumber company may do it for free, so that's awfully tempting. Especially considering the plumbing costs and cost to lay down a new driveway, partially.
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You want to talk about not pretty
I have my 40 something year old son living with me
I live in Mount Pocono.
that ain't pretty
http://www.enter.net/~jbartlo/joseph.htm

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1. A lumber company or mill wants the wood for milling and sale. Fine oak wood might be somewhat scarce in your area, or perhaps they have a portable mill that they can bring to the site and simply want to put it to good use. I would ask for 3 references from other people who have had trees removed by them.
2. Oak roots won't sprout in perpetuity after the tree is cut down, but it would be a good idea (and certainly as part of the 'free' service the lumber company should grind the stump to below ground level.
3. Your quotes sound reasonable, especially if climbing and rigging is involved in bringing the tree down.
Dave
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Why pull the tree down anyway? If you like it, keep it and just replace the drain. Those old terra cotta pipes were flawd from the start, terra cotta lets water seap through and actively attracts roots towards it, which then later invade the pipe and wreck it. They also have lots of joins with gaps that let the roots in. It should also be mentioned waste water is full of nitrogen which roots are eager to get at.
Modern plastic pipes are the best in this case, they don't let water seap through, so the few roots that grow towards it will pass over it. And, should an expanding root shift the pipe it's flexible enough to move slowly with the roots and not snap or become lose at the joints. However, it's best to keep it clear of large plants and route it under a lawn or driveway where possible - but it will survive almost all stray roots easily. -- Bry ------------------------------------------------------------------------ posted via www.GardenBanter.co.uk
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Would thin-gauge copper pipe be better? Most plants have an aversion for copper.

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Peter Jason wrote:

Interesting question about the copper, although I'm not sure what effect it has on roots? However, if it doesn't seep/leak any water and is a litttle flexible, I suspect it will work very well... I would have mentioned it, but I never knew you could get copper drain pipes? -- Bry ------------------------------------------------------------------------ posted via www.GardenBanter.co.uk
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The cowardly, anonymous pest posting as Mommy Bartlo wrote:

Go to hell, pest and take your lies with you. You know nothing about me, nothing about her, and your pathetic, goddamn self is trying to assert I am doing anything wrong. No pest - YOU are the useless coward hiding behind a screen name and posting bull---- about me.
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STOP REACTING! plonk him/her and get on with your life
your feeding the fire.....

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perhaps you haven't met my boy JoJo yet. Take a gander at ne.weather and you'll see how good a job he does ignoring the 'cowardly anonymous pests'
what a DUMMY my JoJo is. If he left it alone for one day it'd go away. but he can't
--MommyBartlo--

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so you have NO option of re-routing the plumbing?
it would be a DARN shame to kill off such an awesome tree....

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from snipped-for-privacy@bcpl.net (juggler) contains these words:

The lumber company's main interest will be in getting the tree down in lengths they want to use. An arborist's only interest will be in minimising the risk to your property by dismantling the tree in smaller bits. Large oaks, or parts of them, are incredibly heavy and it's a dangerous and highly skilled job to take one down near a house.
Whichever company you choose should carry an arborists full public liability insurance; just in case they damage your property or a neighbour's, or someone gets hurt. Insist on seeing their current insurance certificate before you accept a contract; its normal practise so good operators won't mind.
Don't employ a company that hedges or objects to that; it may mean no insurers would cover them, and you can guess why. Insurance for treefelling work is expensive, which can explain how uninsured cowboys workers undercut the price of proper professionals.
Janet.
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snipped-for-privacy@bcpl.net (juggler) wrote in message

Once the tree is cut, the roots should be of little or no concern, especially if you have the stump ground up. Occasionally they can sprout from the stump, but usually only if they are relatively young. A 50 year old should probably not sprout, or if it does, not much. But grounding up the stump (which is what most people would do anyway) will guarantee complete death.
Oak tree roots do go rather deep for trees, but once its dead it should be of little concern as far as anything it is close to.

Well just remember that the arborists will do it carefully, piece by piece, making sure that no damage comes to other parts of your property. I'd bet the lumber company will want the tree whole (or at least the trunk whole), therefore not cutting in pieces and risking property damage. I'd go with the arborist unless I was extremely strapped for cash. Also I doubt the arborist will have a stump-grounder (or whaterver the machine is called), you'd probably end up calling an arborist (or whoever does that) anyway.
===Raymond C Martin Jr http://www.njfreeways.com/weather /
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On 29 Oct 2003 11:57:13 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@bcpl.net (juggler) wrote:

plumbing. The roots won't enter plastic piping unless it is installed incorrectly (i.e., leaks). There are a few possibilities to make this happen: 1. trench and dig out the old line and replace. This may be fairly innocuous or it may be devastating to the tree, depending on how close to the trunk the line passes. I'd actually avoid this option because of the root loss that would occur, but if you can stay at least one foot away from the trunk for every inch of trunk diameter (measure about 4 feet above grade) you're probably okay, and this would be the cheapest way to go. 2. Reroute the line around the root zone (again, stay a foot from the trunk for every inch in trunk diameter). Just leave the (now defunct) clay pipe where it is. 4. Have the trench dug by hand, and instruct the digger not to cut any roots bigger than 2" diameter. One way to do this is with a tool called an air spade, which can blow the dirt out of the trench while causing virtually no root loss. You might have to call a few companies to find one that has this tool, or you might not find anyone in the area that has one. It's about $1000 to buy one--still cheaper than removing the tree. Maybe you can find a company that will do the work if you buy the tool (www.air-spade.com). To use it, someone will have to rent an industrial air compressor (about $150/day). Note: I am not affiliated with this company and get no commission or other benefit from this recommendation. 4. Tunnel under the roots if you must route the line inside the critical root zone. This is the most expensive option (well, probably less than buying an air spade), but still far cheaper than removing the tree. Again, the challenge may be finding someone with the equipment. Try well diggers (water and/or oil) if no tree services can do it.

company to remove a tree. Depending on the location, removal might be relatively simple, but trees are still unpredictable and someone without much experience could easily see things go horribly awry in a hurry. Also, as was already mentioned, the lumber guys will want to drop the trunk (maybe the whole tree) in one fell (no pun intended) swoop. Even if it goes the right direction, this will result in more damage to your lawn than a removal by a qualified arborist piecing out the tree with rigging. And, again seconding another post, insurance for this type of work is very specific (and expensive). A lumber company probably does not have it, and you'll be on the hook for any damages that may occur.
Why a new drive? If it must be damaged to replace part of the pipe, this may make tunneling even more viable--tunnel under the tree and the drive and save the cost of tree removal and the cost of the new drive.
Good luck,
Keith Babberney ISA Certified Arborist For more info about the International Society of Arboriculture, please visit http://www.isa-arbor.com/home.asp . For consumer info about tree care, visit http://www.treesaregood.com /
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Hi. To follow up on what you all were saying, here are a few more details...
I'd love to save the tree and not have to take it down. I was told by each plumber (about 4 estimates) that in order to take out the old sewer and put down a new sewer line, much of the tree's roots would be cut away and compromised. So much so that they would not guarantee the safety of the house. In other words, the tree could fall. The arborist I would be going with, should I decide to go that route, himself said that the oak tree will slowly die by what the plumbers will be cutting away. So he, too, recommended cutting it down. He, however, said there was no imminent rush (as the plumbers said there was). So I'm not sure there's an easy answer around not cutting the tree down.
As for the driveway, it appears the plumber I'll be using has a new type of mechanism for laying pipes. It's called pipe bursting. (Anyone heard of it??) It's, he says, the least invasive type of pipe laying. What it does is burst the existing pipe while laying down the new one. It would involve, supposedly, just two holes in the ground. Unfortunately, with the layout of my house, the two holes would both likely involve the driveway. The bottom hole would be around the clean-out (which happens to be right smack dab at the base of the tree. The clean-out is even on a slant because of the tree's roots.) This bottom hole would be right at the base of the driveway, as well. The tree is about 4 feet away from the driveway. The top hole would be on the side of the house, at the top of the driveway.
Thanks to all for your thoughts and suggestions. Much appreciated. If you have any other thoughts, please post them. Thanks again.
snipped-for-privacy@FUaroma-FUmassage.com (Babberney) wrote in message (juggler) wrote:

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On 31 Oct 2003 14:35:22 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@bcpl.net (juggler) wrote:

But if you read my earlier post, you'll see several options that your plumber candidates apparently don't know about. Certainly I agree with the arborist that you don't really need to do anything in a rush--If you just snake out the line periodically you can keep the roots cut back. But the arbortist also seems a bit ignorant of the options that would allow replacing the plumbing without damaging roots much. Did you visit the ISA web site? http://www.treesaregood.com/treecare/avoiding_construction.asp is a good resource for information about tree preservation during construction-type activities.

your plumber options can replace the plumbing without cutting roots?
I've never heard of this method, though. I'd call more plumbers and arborists if I were you (and, if necessary, a well driller who can do horizontal drilling, i.e., tunneling). Maybe bursting the pipe is a good idea--I'd like to think so--but I wouldn't try it unless I could find more than one person to sanction it. Meanwhile, you can find an ISA Certified Arborist in your area here: http://www.isa-arbor.com/findArborist/findarborist.asp You might even want to hire a member of the American Association of Consulting Arborists: http://www.asca-consultants.org/directory/index.cfm
Sounds like you'd really like to keep this tree, and there's no reason apparent from your posts thus far to suggest you can't do it. Maybe you've omitted some important info, but I encoursge you to do a little more homework to find out how to save your oak. In the words of a tree-guy bumper sticker, "Sure, trees are a renewable resource, but who wants to wait for the results?"
Keith For more info about the International Society of Arboriculture, please visit http://www.isa-arbor.com/home.asp . For consumer info about tree care, visit http://www.treesaregood.com /
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I third the motion to reroute the sewer line. Get some college kids, buy them a case of beer (but they drink it "after" they dig the trench) and have them dig the trench. The airspade might be feasible.
A 50 year old oak tree is probably worth $6-7000 (check the IRS) in value to your property.
Driveway. Consider a low impact application that would cost less and be less damaging for this valuable tree - premeable pavers. http://www.pavestone.com/commercial/paver_grasstone.html Concrete pavers with holes in the middle to let water permeate the water table and supply the roots. Even after you disconnect the food supply of the terracota line, the tree will do just fine. Grasstone won't slow damage the tree. Assists in recapturing rainwater and recycling it and keeping on your property. Grow grass in the center, fill with soil or fill with pebbles.
The lumber is preying on you and your condition and they'll make all kinds of money destroying a habitat structure in your front yard.
J. Kolenovsky
juggler wrote:

--

Celestial Habitats by J. Kolenovsky
2003 Honorable Mention Award, Keep Houston Beautiful
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