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The Terrible Tale of Tree Roots and Your Sewer Line

split-drainage-pipe-with-roots-in-itLast week we looked at some of the reasons other than clogs that you’ll discover slow or stopped drains in your home. In that post, we mentioned that tree roots can create blockages in your sewer line. This is a big enough topic that we want to look into it closer. Tree roots, and roots in general, can turn into major catastrophes for the sewer line from your house—and that can mean major catastrophes for your house!

Why tree roots are a problem for sewer lines

What’s so special about tree roots that they’re considered a significant trouble for sewer lines rather than some odd occasional occurrence? The reason is that tree roots actively seek out sewer lines, honing right in on them. Tree roots grow naturally toward sources of nutrients such as water, as well as sources of heat. An underground sewer line has exactly what tree roots seek, so they’ll grow straight toward any sewer line that’s nearby. 

You might think that something like roots can’t be too bad for a piece of durable metal like a sewer pipe. Well, you’re underestimating how tenacious and powerful roots can be, especially from trees that need strong support. Roots don’t move toward strong, sealed areas of a pipe, but toward weak spots such as connection points or any tiny leak. Once the roots start growing inside, they’ll gradually tear apart the pipe and even lead to a full rupture. You’re more likely to notice clogging first, which is an early warning you need to call professional plumbers to do something about the sewer line.

Fixing root infiltration

There are several methods of sewer repair in Evanston, IL that can eliminate root infiltration. The simplest method is to use hydro-jetting to blast high-pressure water through the pipe that will clear out all the roots. This can work if the root growth isn’t too extensive. If the roots have caused more damage, then we need to perform pipe relining to slide a new pipe interior into place inside the damaged pipe and seal it along the interior to form a new lining that seals up all the damaged areas from the roots. In extreme cases, usually with extremely old sewer lines (more than fifty years), we recommend a full sewer line replacement. We’ll use video pipe inspection equipment on the sewer line to give us a good idea of the condition of the pipe and what tactic will work best.

Avoiding the root problem

We’ve explained what we can do to fix root infiltration. But are there steps you can take to prevent the trouble in the first place? Yes!

The first is to see that you don’t have trees planted too close to the sewer line. Our plumbers can help you with this by identifying where the sewer line is located so you can have a better idea of where to put trees and other plants. Another is to landscape with plants that have shallow roots, such as Japanese maple, dogwood, sourwood, and serviceberry. (Here’s a longer list of sewer-line-safe trees.)

Reliance Plumbing Sewer & Drainage, Inc. serves the Northshore and Northwest Chicagoland. Reach out to us for sewer line service.

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