Plumbing Insights, Tips and Tricks, Water Insights

How to Detect and Prevent Tree Roots in Your Sewer Line

If you’re a homeowner, there’s a good chance you’ll have to deal with tree roots in your sewer line at some point. While it can be an annoying and costly problem to fix, it’s important to understand the causes and symptoms of tree root infiltration so you can take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place. This blog post will give you all the information you need to detect and prevent tree roots in your sewer line. 

How can you tell if you have tree roots in your sewer line?

Inside the House

Typically you will first notice a problem inside your house. This usually manifests as slow drains and gurgling sounds (no – they aren’t haunted) from your toilets. The number one sign of roots growing in the sewer pipe is the need to have the drain augered out on a regular basis.  Most drain cleaning companies will be able to run a camera through the drain to verify the root situation.  

Outside the House

In most cases for houses with basements there are not many signs outside, other than having old established trees between the house and the road.  For older houses with clay or cast iron drains they will be most susceptible for roots to enter the drain.  For houses on a slab you can sometimes have sinkholes that form due to the drain being at a more shallow depth. 

What are the consequences of having tree roots in your sewer line?  The roots can certainly be removed with a cable auger or sewer jetter but over time they can do more and more damage to the pipe itself and eventually cause a complete failure.  At this point the whole sewer line will need to be replaced between the house and the road and a new PVC drain can be installed.  

What should you do if you already have tree roots in your sewer line?

If you think you have a clog in an outgoing sewer or incoming water pipe, ignoring it won’t make it go away. The sooner you investigate and get to the root of the problem (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun), the less damage you’ll have.

Contact your plumber now rather than later. 

(800) HEDLUND > (800) 433-5863

One of the main tools we use for clearing drains is the drain auger. You might know it better as a rooter or plumber’s snake. We can also cut through the roots with special blades.

There may be some digging involved because sewer pipes are generally several feet underground. Depending on the integrity of the pipes, they may need to be replaced. In certain cases, an advanced trenchless process can be used.

No dig sewer repair is sometimes an option. After a drain cleaning, we use a video camera to confirm all clogs and debris are gone. Then we insert a fabric tube treated with lining material into the pipe. This covers the entire length of the compromised pipe. After tube inflation, the lining materials dry and harden.

Tips for preventing tree root infiltration into your sewer line

If you are building a new home or looking to improve your current home, here are some things to consider to prevent tree roots in your sewer line. 

Location – Know the location and path of your underground sewer line. Before you do any kind of landscaping, it’s always wise to know where your pipes, cables, and lines are buried.

Landscaping – Choose trees with less aggressive root systems. Fast-growing trees are more likely to send invading roots into sewer lines. Consider removing these types of trees if you already have them. 

Barriers -Homeowners can choose between a variety of barriers to prevent root growth into their sewer lines. Most like using slow-release chemicals, such as copper sulfate and potassium hydroxide; some also prefer metal or wood pipes that are buried below ground with insulation attached along its length so it runs beside your drain field (or volts).

Replace Vulnerable Pipes – Homes built prior to the 1980s commonly use something called Orangeburg pipe which is easily penetrable by tree roots. Old clay or concrete sewer pipes may be replaced with seamless HDPE (high-density polyethylene) pipe in a trenchless pipe process that requires little excavation. With an extremely long service life and no seams, HDPE pipes are unlikely to experience tree root problems. Think of old pipes like Orangeburg or ones with crumbling joints as drip irrigation systems you didn’t install. Roots seek them out.

Get Regular Inspections – Every other year, have a licensed plumber inspect your sewer drain system with micro-video technology. Hedlund Plumbing can detect all your pipeline problems by using a specialized video camera that snakes through your pipes, allowing our plumbers to see first-hand what’s going on. 

This allows us to visually survey the entire interior length of the pipe. If evidence of tree root invasion is noted, early intervention can prevent clogs and backups. 

Hedlund Plumbing can provide an inspection for you. Call us today. 

(800) HEDLUND > (800) 433-5863

About Hedlund Plumbing

The solution to all your plumbing repair, installation, and maintenance needs. Our local Lansing plumbers are fully licensed and insured professionals. We arrive on time in a marked van ready to go with the tools and materials to complete the job. Our commitment to our customers is why we are considered by many to be the top Lansing plumber.


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