Why Are Tree Roots in the Sewer Line?

You’ve likely not given much thought to your sewer line. Most homeowners don’t give it a second glance until something goes wrong. One of the most common issues we see with residential plumbing systems are tree roots in the sewer line.

But why do the trees spread their roots into the sewer lines? What damage can it cause? And how can you fix it? We’re sharing everything you need to know about tree roots and sewer lines.

Roots Grow Toward a Water Source

Roots are how a tree grows and thrives. For the tree’s survival and growth, they need access to water and oxygen. That’s why the tree’s roots will always naturally grow toward a water source.

Usually, this doesn’t cause an issue. However, when the tree is located on your property, that water source could very well be your sewer line. Even the smallest of holes in your sewer line can release enough water to attract a tree or two.

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

Will tree roots cause any harm if they spread and grow in your sewer line? What can be damaged? And why?

Broken Pipes

Plumbing pipes are strong, but unfortunately tree roots are stronger. We mentioned this above, but even a small leak will attract a mighty tree.

Sc Treeroots 01

When tree roots find your pipes, the roots will grow towards the water source, meaning the root itself will grow into your pipe. As the roots grow, they can expand and completely break apart pipes. Homes that haven’t been updated since the 80s are especially susceptible to being broken by tree roots.

Yard Sinkhole

If a broken pipe doesn’t sound so bad to you, you’ll need to understand the consequences of a broken pipe. That consequence comes in the form of leaks. And big ones at that.

Due to the proximity to the plumbing system, your lawn that will bear the brunt of the broken drain’s attack. It has the power to transform your beautiful garden into a sewage-filled sinkhole. Plus, the leaks can then travel and grow toward your property, causing property and possession damage.

You Will Need Repairs

The thing about broken pipes is that they don’t fix themselves. You will need to call out a professional to get everything up in working order again.

Sc Treeroots 02

The size of your bill depends on how bad your pipes are. It’s a good rule of thumb to always call out a plumber sooner rather than later. The earlier you catch something, the easier it will be to fix.

Signs You Have Tree Roots in Your Sewer Line

At this point, you have learned why having tree roots in your sewer line can be a living nightmare and cause property damage. But how can you spot the signs of trouble?

Soft or Flooded Parts of the Lawn

If you can feel any soft, squishy parts of your lawn, there’s a chance that you have a leak. As we know, tree roots can break pipes, which then cause leaks. So, there’s a good possibility that this leak was caused by tree roots in your sewer line.

Sc Treeroots 04

In more severe cases, you might actually see water gathering and parts of your yard could be fully flooded. When you see this, you need to contact a licensed plumber as soon as possible for repairs.

Recurring Drain Clogs

Drains can become clogged with all sorts of things. Hair and grease are only two. For most products causing a block, homeowners think they can dump some chemical drain cleaner down the pipes and be fine. For tree roots, this is not the case.

However, if you’ve noticed that you’re needing to routinely call in a plumber to fix a clog or find yourself constantly turning to a chemical drain cleaner, a bigger problem is afoot. Recurring drain or toilet clogs are a sure sign there’s something wrong with your main sewer line. Chances are that “something wrong” can be attributed to tree roots.

Sewer Smells

One of the most tell-tale signs that you have tree roots in your sewer line is the smell of sewage around and inside your property. This is usually the symptom that causes homeowners to make a call to their licensed plumbers. And for good reason.

Sc Treeroots 05

No one wants to own a home that constantly smells of sewage. It’s overwhelming, unpleasant, and embarrassing.  But if you do spot the smell, make sure you take action to prevent it from worsening.

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

We’ve shared the signs to watch for, now we’re on to the next step. What exactly should you do about it?

Sc Treeroots 06

In a nutshell, the only thing you need to do is make a telephone call to a licensed plumber.

This is not a task that can be done yourself. It requires an expert level of knowledge, experience, and specific tools. Do not attempt to DIY this job as you will make it worse.

Do Not Treat Tree Roots with Chemicals

Again: the only thing you need to do when you think you have tree roots in your sewer line is to call a professional plumber.

Do not treat tree roots with chemicals. While it’s tempting to give it a try – especially when you’re having to live with the constant smell of sewage – the chemicals inside certain solutions can cause mayhem inside your pipes. It can actually cause far more harm than good.

And, if you have small children or pets, these chemicals can be toxic if touched or ingested. Therefore, it’s best to leave it to the professionals and avoid treating the tree roots with any chemicals or solutions.

How to Avoid Tree Roots in the Sewer Line

The best measures to take are preventative ones. If you have already experienced life with a clogged sewer line, you know how tricky and stressful it can be.

Sc Treeroots 03

With that in mind, here are the main 3 ways to avoid having tree roots in your sewer line.

Be Mindful with Landscaping

You now know that trees will grow toward any water source. While this can’t be changed, you can make the decision to landscape in a better location.

When (and if) you want to plant a tree on your property, make sure you can identify the position of your sewer line first. Then, ensure you don’t plant your tree within close proximity of this location.

Replace Any Broken Pipes

A broken or fractured pipe is essentially a “Vacancy Here” sign to tree roots. You need to be proactive when it comes to replacing any broken pipes.

Sc Treeroots 07

It doesn’t matter how damaged the pipes are. If there’s even the tiniest fracture, tree roots will invade and spread it open. Then, you’re left with leaks, the scent of sewage, and a high repair bill to settle.

Consider An Annual Plumbing Inspection

Our final preventative measure to avoid tree roots in your sewer line is to schedule annual plumbing inspections with a licensed plumber.

Your plumber will inspect your sewer line using technology and ensure it’s free from any tree roots and debris.

Doing this on an annual basis gives you the peace of mind that everything is ticking along as it should. Plus, if there are any problems, a plumber can spot them early on.

Remember, the key is quick action. So, if your plumber spots a problem early on, the extent of damage will be low, and so will your repair bills.

Looking for the most reliable plumbing service in Orange County? Look no further than Service Champions. Schedule an appointment today!