Root Problems: How to Protect and Keep Your Sewer Line Clear

There are many benefits to having trees on your property. Sitting in the shade, birdwatching, and playing on a swing are just a few that come to mind. However, trees also come with a significant risk that many homeowners don’t consider – root intrusion in the sewer line.

Clogged-Sewer-Line

Tree roots are attracted to the underground sewer line for water, nutrients, and oxygen, leading to a blockage in the pipe. Common methods for dealing with tree roots in the sewer line include using an auger, hydro-jetting, chemical application, and digging up the roots. 

Why roots are so destructive to your plumbing

Tree roots are crafty and can find a small opening in the pipe or push through old, brittle material to create an internal blockage. Newer pipes made out of PVC and other plastic are more resistant to tree roots than older materials such as clay and Orangeburg. 

A tree root blockage in the sewer line can result in slow or gurgling drains inside the home. If the clog gets bad enough, it can eventually cause sewage waste to back up into the house, leaving you with a giant mess, costly cleanup, and major health risks.

Ways to protect your sewer line from tree roots

Thankfully, there are several ways you can manage or prevent roots from invading your plumbing.

  • Cut up roots with an auger. A mechanical auger is a heavy-duty version of a drain snake you may use for simple drain clogs. In this case, the auger is equipped with a sharp, spinning head that chews up tree roots as it is pushed through the sewer line. This approach can open up the pipe but won’t provide a long-term solution (the roots will probably grow back). 
  • Clean the pipe with hydro-jetting. Hydro jetting is similar to the auger method but uses a hose with high-pressure water instead of a mechanical head. Sometimes, hydro jetting can be more effective for stubborn or thick roots. The stream of water can also clean down to the walls of the pipe, blasting away any other build-up or blockage that may be slowing down your sewer line.
  • Apply a root-killing chemical. If you want to save the tree but eliminate some of the roots growing near the sewer line, there are chemical products designed for this exact purpose. For example, copper sulfate crystals can be used by flushing the product down the toilet. The chemical works its way through your plumbing until it reaches the sewer line. The chemical kills the roots inside the pipe and essentially creates a barrier in the nearby soil. Like any harsh chemical, it’s very important to be careful and follow all directions when applying a root killer. 
  • Remove the roots and repair the sewer line. When none of the above approaches work, some homeowners decide to remove the tree and roots to prevent future plumbing issues. 

If you’re already suffering from a blocked or damaged sewer line, it may be necessary to dig up the pipe and remove the roots. There are also trenchless pipe and repair options that are less disruptive to your property. The best bet is to have an experienced plumber evaluate the situation and make a qualified recommendation. 

Sewer line repair and replacement in Lynn, MA, and The North Shore area

After this article, you may never look at your trees the same. If you are worried about root intrusion in your sewer line, contact the experts at Waldman Plumbing and Heating, Inc. We’ll inspect your property and plumbing in order to provide the most effective and cost-efficient solution. To schedule an appointment, call us at (781) 780-3184.

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