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Why Are There Tree Roots in the Sewer Line?

Why Are There Tree Roots in the Sewer Line?

Owning a home with mature trees has its perks: shade, aesthetic, maybe even growing your own fruit. However, those trees become an issue when they start to interfere with your sewer line.

Unfortunately, tree roots and sewer lines go together like peanut butter and jelly. A sewer line full of tree roots can lead to your property could be subject to drain clogs, busted pipes, and that undeniable smell of sewage.

Today, we’re sharing why you have tree roots in the sewer line in the first place and what to do about it.

Roots Grow Towards the Water Source

It’s a fact of nature. Whether it’s into a stream or into your sewer lines, trees will always grow towards a water source–even if it’s aged trees on your property. It’s just biology.

Far too often, newer homeowners won’t take their plumbing into account when planting trees and other flora around their yard. This means that the mightiest of tree roots can be slowly attacking your sewer line.

If you’ve yet to plant any trees, take this lesson:

Identify and locate where your pipes are (plus your cables and lines). Do not plant trees there.

Plus, pick your foliage carefully. There are some fast-growing trees that push their roots into sewer lines, because they just grow a lot faster than other plants.

What Happens if you Have Tree Roots in the Sewer Line

Clearly, tree roots spreading through and over your sewer line is an issue. Let’s examine the damage tree roots can cause.

Broken Pipes

Don’t underestimate the strength of tree roots. They are sturdy things that will push through anything in their way. In the process, this can make your pipes collateral damage.

Image: tree roots breaking through a plumbing pipe.
If your home is older, or has not been updated, your pipes can crack easily. Specifically, if they are made out of clay (commonly found in older plumbing systems).

Yard Sinkhole

Tree roots can block pipes with even the thinnest strands. When that builds up alongside grime and grease, the pipes really don’t stand a chance. This greasy, grimy formula inside your sewage pipes will cause blocks in your toilets, sinks, and tubs/baths. If left to fester, it can cause your yard to seep sewage mixture.

That pungent smell of sewage is not what you want people to associate with your home. Plus, it’s a massive inconvenience for you and your family, too.

You Will Need Repairs

Think you have a problem with tree roots? It’s essential you get yourself a licensed plumber to look at the sewer system. They can confirm the problem with video and show you how much, or how little, damage the roots have caused.

Image: a pipe with a piece of it cut out. The cut out piece shows tree roots in the sewer line.
After assessing the damage, a plumber can use specialty tools to preform an intense drain clearing. In extreme cases, the pipes might need to be replaced. This isn’t something you can DIY. You’ll need specific equipment, skill, and experience.

Make sure you get in touch with a professional and licensed plumbing team so they can identify the problem and provide the best solution.

Signs You Have Tree Roots in the Sewer Line

So, how do you know whether you have tree roots in your sewer line? Here are the most tell-tale signs that trees have made your sewer line part of their home.

Soft or Flooded Parts of the Lawn

First of all, take a trip around your back and front yard. Pay particular attention to your lawn, feeling for softer areas. In extreme cases, you may be able to physically see flooding.

Image: a lawn with flooded patches. An indicator of tree roots in the sewer line are flooded patches in the grass.
If either of these are true, you may have tree roots in your sewer line.

Recurring Drain Clogs

Are you having to use chemical drain cleaners down your sink, tub, toilet, or shower on a regular basis? That’s not normal and chemical drain cleaners can actually do a lot more harm than good. It’s like slapping a band-aid on a wound that requires stitches.

Recurring clogs throughout your home, not just at one drain, are a clear sign you might have tree roots in the sewer line.

Sewer Smells

Probably the most unpleasant of all of the symptoms of tree roots infecting your sewer line is the pungent scent of sewage. No one wants their home to smell like sewage.

Image: a woman holding her nose to block out a smell. When you have a problem with your sewer line, a strong stench will be in the air.
However, if you notice a strong sewer odor, you’ll need to contact a plumber to inspect your drains and sewage line.

What Happens if you have Tree Roots in the Sewer Line

When it comes to tree roots and sewer lines, you can’t ignore the problem. In fact, ignoring the problem or saying, “I’ll deal with it tomorrow,” will only make things worse.

The quicker you act, the less damage you’ll be dealing with. Acting fast— as soon as you spot any of the symptoms above—is key.

Image: tree roots at the end of a snaking tool.
There’s a specific process that happens when you have tree roots in the sewer line. A plumber will first put a camera down to see what they’re dealing with. Then, if the problem is small enough, a plumber can use a tool with blades to snip through the roots. Just be warned that a plumbing crew may need to dig deep into the ground to access your sewer line.

There’s also a chance that your sewer lines will need replacing. After drain cleaning, a video will be taken to guarantee there are no clogs, roots, or debris left.

Do Not Treat Tree Roots with Chemicals

It can be tempting to buy chemical solutions from your local gardening or home improvement center. However, when it comes to tree roots blocking your sewer lines, it’s best to step away from the chemicals.

Some chemicals will erode your pipes and cause more damage than what was there before. Plus, if you have pets, chemical leaks and fumes can be toxic. It’s best to simply call your plumber and allow them to advise you.

How to Avoid Tree Roots in the Sewer Line

If you have ever dealt with tree roots invading your sewer line, it’s likely that you don’t want to face that problem again. So, how do you avoid tree roots crashing in and through your sewer pipes?

Here are 3 top tips you should follow:

Be Mindful with Landscaping

This sounds obvious. Especially because you know trees will grow toward a water source.

However, it’s something that many homeowners overlook.

If you plan on planting a tree, make sure you can locate your pipes and make sure they won’t be able to grow toward your sewer lines.

Plus, choose your trees carefully. The fast-growing trees soak up more water, making it more likely that they’ll grow through your sewer line.

Replace Any Broken Pipes

A broken pipe is a ticking time bomb. If left alone, your pipes will burst, and you will end up with a far bigger problem on your hands. An expensive one at that.

If your property was built before the 1980s, chances are that your pipes are a specific type of pipe called Orangeburg pipe. These are particularly prone to breakage by tree roots. Plus, any pipes made from clay or concrete should be replaced with HDPE (high density polyethylene).

This type of material ensures a much longer lifespan and no seams, meaning they are far less likely to experience tree root issues.

Consider An Annual Plumbing Inspection

Our final top tip is to consider scheduling an annual plumbing inspection. Get in touch with a licensed plumber to book a routine sewer drain system service with micro-video hardware. This means the plumber can visually assess the entire interior of your pipe.

Image: tree roots growing out of an above ground pipe.
If they spot any evidence of tree roots, early action can be implemented. As we’ve discussed, the quicker you act, the less damage to your property (and your wallet).

Tree roots can be a nightmare if they begin invading your sewage line. However, this can all be prevented with identification, quick action, and routine checks.

If you have any questions or think you may have tree roots in the sewer line, reach out to the experts at Adeedo.

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