Plumbing Insights

Excavator clears tree roots

5 Ways to Prevent Tree Roots from Damaging your Pipes

Prevent invasive tree roots from plugging your sewer line by boring them out with a rented auger, cutting the trees, or even calling in experts. The pros will bore the lines for you, handle the roots with a toxin, replace the old pipe or reline the pipe.

If you reside in a wooded lot and have issues with tree roots invading your sewer and clogging up it, don’t assume you have to cut down the trees! The shrub roots operate their way through joints or cracks in older sewer lines made of clay tile, cast iron, or an asphalt composite style piping. 

The roots are seeking that nutrient-rich soup you are sending down the pipes. Clay and cast iron have been rarely used anymore because of those loose-fitting joints which tree roots may penetrate. These materials can also be heavy, hard to use, costly, fragile, and prone to breakage. Nowadays almost all sewer lines are made from plastic pipe–it is inexpensive, tough, and lightweight and the joints are somewhat impervious to roots.

You have three choices: Continue cleaning the pipes occasionally, cut down the trees, or even call in the pros. Larger sewer-cleaning businesses send a mini video camera in the pipe to ascertain exactly what the issue is. They will learn in the event the line has been crushed, cracked, or sloped improperly, or if shrub roots are inhabiting their way through cracks or loose joints. Then they’ll suggest a course of action, which could be:

Digging up the old line and substituting it with plastic. Treating the ground with a poison devised to kill nearby shrub roots. That way it’ll take much longer for new roots to create problems. These toxins are made to kill just difficult roots–likely not the whole tree.

Sealing the line by lining the current pipe with an inner plastic fabric and cement. Companies have been doing this for many years on bigger lines and are only starting to line residential ones. The odds of finding a local firm that will install residential sewer liner are slim, but it doesn’t hurt to inquire

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