Don’t Let Roots Ruin Your Sewer Line

The pipes in your house connect to the city sewer system by sewer lines that run under the ground, through your yard. Your yard is probably also home to a variety of trees, shrubs, and bushes. This creates the potential for a problem. The roots of those trees and other plants are drawn to the sewer line. It seems gross to us, but for the trees and plants, the sewer line provides water, oxygen, and nutrients that they need. The roots find any little cracks or joints in the pipes where they can make their way in. Then the roots grow into the pipes, expanding creating a web of roots through the sewer lines. This means big problems for homeowners. The roots cause blockages in the sewer lines. Sewage can back up into your home, and the pipes can break. Obviously, exposure to raw sewage is not good for your health. It’s an expensive mess, too. Fortunately, you can take some steps to prevent roots from growing into your sewer line. Just try out these helpful suggestions.

1. Find out where the sewer lines are before you plant trees or do any landscaping work. If you know where the sewer lines are located, you can choose to plant trees and shrubs further away from the pipes. Get this information by calling 811, the national “Call Before You Dig” line. You can also call your local public works department for information.

2. Use a growth inhibitor to keep roots from growing into the sewer line. There are a few different types of barriers on the market that can help prevent roots from growing into the sewer lines. For residential neighborhoods, slow release chemicals like copper sulfate and potassium hydroxide are commonly used. Just spread the inhibitor along the sewer line, and they will help keep roots from growing in. You can also run a vertical barrier of wood or metal along the sewer line (at a depth of 6 – 12 inches below the pipe) to prevent root infiltration.

3. Choose your plants carefully. You can avoid problems by choosing your plantings strategically. Don’t plant anything too close to the sewer line. Put larger plants, like trees, furthest from the sewer line, so the roots don’t reach. Closer to the sewer line, choose slow-growing plants with smaller root balls.

4. Look for red flags. Be aware of signs of plumbing problems so that you can deal with them quickly, before they escalate. Drains that get clogged frequently are a sign of a bigger problem.

5. Have your plumbing system inspected and maintained properly. If you see any red flags, call a plumber right away. Drains that clog frequently, toilets that overflow, and fixtures that emit gurgling noises are problems that should be addressed promptly. A plumber can look for problems using a video inspection service, which runs a camera through the drains. This allows them to locate the problem without tearing your home or yard apart. You can avoid the necessity of major sewer repairs by having your sewer lines cleaned periodically. This keeps the sewer lines clear and free of root growth.

Damage to sewer lines from tree root growth can be a major hassle. However, it is also something that can be avoided if you take some precautions and keep an eye out for problems. If you suspect a problem with your sewer lines or would like some help taking preventative measures, call Scott English Plumbing. We provide sewer line repair and replacement and leak detection services. We handle routine plumbing maintenance as well as plumbing emergencies, so give us a call for help anytime.