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Why Are Tree Roots in the Sewer Line?

09/01/22

Why Are Tree Roots in the Sewer Line?

Your sewer line has a crucial job to do. And, more often than not, we trust that it’s working away in the background and rarely give it a second thought until something goes wrong.

One of the most common issues we see with sewer lines are tree roots. It’s fairly common for tree roots to break into your sewer line.

Though it’s more common than you might think, it can also be a nightmare to solve. Why does this happen and what are the consequences? And most importantly, how do you fix it?

This article will explain everything you need to know about why there are tree roots in the sewer line.

Roots Grow Toward a Water Source

The core issue with tree roots is something that no licensed plumber can change. Tree roots naturally grow in the direction of a water source. This is basic tree survival.

Unfortunately, this can sometimes mean that the water source is your cracked or broken sewer line.

What Happens If You Have Tree Roots in The Sewer Line?

Unfortunately, the truth is that tree roots in the sewer line can cause real issues for your property.

Broken Pipes

Obviously, trees are often robust. Their roots need to demonstrate the same amount of strength, as they play a fundamental part in the tree’s growth and survival.

Image: Tree roots show through a broken pipe. When you have tree roots in the sewer line they grow into the sewer.

That means that, even if your pipe has the smallest of fractures, the tree roots will take advantage of the entrance.

This invasion builds up pressure and prevents movement. So, it’ll start with drain clogs. As time goes by, the pressure gets too much, and causes a full on breakage in your pipes.

Yard Sinkhole

The consequence of a broken pipe? Leaks. These are irritating at the best of times, but when the leak stems from your sewage line it’s made far worse.

Your lawn will take a lot of the damage, which has the potential of converting it from a well-kept yard to a sinkhole. This can then spread throughout your yard, into your property, and cause severe damage.

You Will Need Repairs

A tree root invasion in your sewer line isn’t something that will solve itself. Neither is it a problem that can be DIY’d. You will need to call in a professional plumber.

Image: a sewer pipe cut open to show all the tree roots in the pipe.

And, as with most plumbing problems, the longer they are left to fester, the more damage it will cause. This also extends to your bank account, because the bigger the problem, the more time and resources it will require to solve.

Signs You Have Tree Roots in Your Sewer Line

Clearly tree roots in the sewer line are a problem to be taken seriously and acted upon as soon as possible. But what are the warning signs? It’s not like you can visually see the sewer line clog. So, how do you know if you have tree roots in your sewer line?

Image: a snaking tool with tree roots on the tip.

Here are the most common signs:

Soft or Flooded Parts of the Lawn

If, the next time you’re in your yard, you can feel a soft, squishy patch on your lawn, you have a problem with your drainpipes and sewer line. When a sewer pipe leaks, cracks, or breaks, it’s releasing water (and sewage) into the surrounding dirt. This then turns your lush lawn into patches of sloshy, smelly grass and mud.

Image: a patch of lawn with flooded parts. When you have tree roots in the sewer line, it could cause flooding like this.

So, when you’re inspecting the health condition of your lawn, make sure you pay close attention to the texture of the grass. In severe cases, you may actually see flooding. If so, you’ll need to get in touch with a licensed plumber sooner rather than later.

Recurring Drain Clogs

Are you finding that your drains are clogging up more regularly than normal? If so, you may have tree roots spreading in your sewer line.

Keep an eye on the dates you have to treat your drains with chemical cleaners. Note them down. If you spot recurring drain clogs, get in touch with a licensed plumber to inspect your sewer line.

Sewer Smells

One of the most unpleasant and unbearable consequences of tree roots in your sewer line is the smell of sewage surrounding your home. If you notice this odor, there’s a chance that your sewer line has been cracked or broken by tree roots.

Image: a woman plugs her nose to stop a strong odor. When your sewer line breaks, your nose might tell you first.

What To Do If You Have Tree Roots in Your Sewer Line

Now, you can spot the signs that you have tree roots in your sewer line. But what are you meant to do about it? How do you solve a sewer line clog?

You will need to contact a professional and arrange repairs. Tree root removal and drain clearing requires specific plumbing tools, experience, and knowledge.

Do Not Treat Tree Roots with Chemicals

Please avoid treating the tree roots with solutions and chemicals. We understand that it’s tempting to buy a bottle of chemical drain cleaner from your local home improvement store. However, if you use these chemicals without knowing what they’re made of and what your pipes are made of, it can cause an even bigger problem.

Chemical drain cleaners can corrode and break any weak pipes. They also only chip away at large blockages, still leaving you with a big problem.

How to Avoid Tree Roots in the Sewer Line

If you have solved your tree-root problem and your sewer line is now working well, it’s likely that you do not want this happening again. We understand that. Fortunately, prevention is the best treatment.

So, how exactly can you avoid tree roots spreading in your sewer line?

Be Mindful with Landscaping

The location of your trees can play a big role in the likelihood of this happening again.

So, if and when you want to plant a new tree or invest in new landscaping, be cautious and consider any positioning carefully.

You should, by this stage, be able to roughly identify where your sewer line lies. Avoid the area surrounding the sewer line when planting a new tree. It’s simply not worth the risk.

Replace Any Broken Pipes

If you have even the tiniest of fractures in your pipes, please get them replaced.

For tree roots, a dripping pipe—no matter the size—is an invitation to invade.

It’s best practice to replace any pipes when they corrode or crack. This helps keep tree roots from getting in your sewer line and helps preserve the longevity of your plumbing system.

Consider An Annual Plumbing Inspection

The final preventative strategy for tree roots in the sewer line is to have your pipes inspected with a camera.

This checkup consists of a plumber sending a camera down your pipes to see if there’s any major damage or blockages. When it comes to plumbing, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Taking care of small issues before they become big headaches can save you time, money, and stress in the long run.

For all things plumbing related, contact the experts at HELP! We proudly serve Cincinnati and surrounding communities.

Posted in: Plumbing

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