Tree Roots And Sewer Lines: What You Need To Know

Posted on: 10 February 2021

One of the biggest problems that affects sewer main lines are tree roots. The roots can cause extensive damage if ignored.

Types of Root Damage

There are two types of damage caused by roots -- external and internal damage. External damage is either a result of pressure placed on the sewer pipe by the roots or of soil changes caused by the roots. Roots can wrap around and even crush a sewer pipe in some instances, causing major and often irreparable damage. Roots can also suck moisture out of the soil, causing it to shrink away from the pipe. The pipe may then shift due to the void formed in the soil.

Internal damage is the result of roots growing into the pipe through the pipe joints via small cracks in the sewer line. Once inside, the roots grow quickly in the moist, nutrient-rich environment, and a clog forms.

Removal and Cleaning

Roots that cause external damage typically indicate that a tree or extensively rooting shrub is growing too close to the sewer line. The best course of action, in this case, is to remove the tree. If you have the ability and the damaged line requires replacing, you may be able to reroute the line to an area that won't be subjected to root damage.

As for roots inside the line, they must be removed. Often the tree can stay in place, as long as you are mindful of root issues. Instead, regular drain cleaning is needed to remove any roots that make their way in before major damage is caused. Augering, also known as rooting or snaking, is a common way to remove roots inside the drain. Another option is water jet cleaning, which uses high-pressure water to remove roots.

Prevention Tactics

You can prevent external damage by knowing the location of your sewer main line so you can avoid planting trees and shrubs too close to it. If you already have plants on your property that could one day pose an issue, make sure they are kept well watered and fertilized so they are less likely to grow out to the sewer line.

For internal damage from root incursion, there are simple treatments you can use. Your drain cleaning service can recommend the best treatment for your particular sewer system. These treatments are generally poured down a drain or flushed down the toilet. They then coat the inside of the drain pipe and prevent root growth for a prescribed length of time. Combining drain treatments with periodic drain cleaning prevents clogs.

Contact a clogged drain cleaning service if you suspect roots are encroaching on your sewer lines.

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