Why Are Tree Roots in the Sewer Line?

While it’s not a pairing we’re overjoyed about, tree roots and sewer lines go together like peas and carrots. However, the outcome is far from delicious.

If you’re wondering why exactly there are tree roots in the sewer line, we’ve got answers for you. Plus, we’re going to tell you what you can do to fix it, what happens if it’s left to spread, and how you can avoid it in the future.

Roots Grow Toward a Water Source

Trees need water to survive. And they’re biologically hardwired to grow in the direction of water source. That’s why your sewer line is a particularly attractive place to set up home for trees.

And while it’s just nature and can’t be changed, there are ways you can identify a tree root problem, solve it, and prevent it happening in the future.

What Happens if You Have Tree Roots in the Sewer Line?

Unfortuantely, you have major problems if you have tree roots in your sewer line. This is not a problem that should be ignored. In fact, the faster you address it, the easier it will be to deal with.

If you turn a blind eye to tree roots in the sewer line, you can expect:

Broken Pipes

Trees are sturdy things. Your pipes – specifically when made out of particular material (we’ll get to that later) – can sometimes not stand a chance against the sheer power of tree roots.

Image: a broken pipe filled with tree roots. With tree roots in the sewer line, you could be dealing with burst pipes.

Once a root reaches your pipe, it will cause the pipe to crack and open. If there’s already a crack in your pipe – no matter how small – the tree root will gravitate toward it because there’s an easy water and oxygen source ready for them.

Yard Sinkhole

The smell of sewage is not a homeowner’s ideal scenario. And it’s about as far away from the scent of a clean home as you can get.

When tree roots invade your sewer line, it can cause fractures and, as we mentioned above, broken pipes. If that happens, you’re likely to get a leak in your yard. This small leak can lead to some big problems, like a sinkhole that will ruin your lawn and smell horrific.

You Will Need Repairs

We’ll talk about the consequences of ignoring your tree root invaded sewer line later in this article. However, one thing you should know is that it’s not something that can be left alone.

Image: a pipe with a piece cut out of it, the piece shows how tree roots have grown into the pipe.

You absolutely will need to have the problem repaired.

If you don’t act quick, it can lead to expensive repair bills. So, it’s always best to act as soon as you spot a problem.

Signs You Have Tree Roots in Your Sewer Line

Clearly, it’s best to act as soon as you identify a problem. But how do you know whether you have tree roots in your sewer line? What are the signs and symptoms?

Here are the top signs to look out for.

Soft or Flooded Parts of Your Lawn

Remember, a broken pipe leads to leaks. And while they’re not pleasant and can cause damage to your property, it’s often one of the clearest signs that you have tree roots spreading in and around your sewer line.

Image: a patch of grass with flooded spots.

Take a walk around your yard and pay attention to the texture of the grass. If it feels soft and squishy, there’s a leak beneath your feet. In extreme cases, you may even see water piling up.

Recurring Drain Clogs

Have you noticed that your sink, tub, toilet, or shower is clogging up regularly? Do you dump a chemical drain cleaner down your sink only to find that a few weeks later you need to re-treat your drains?

If this is the case, there’s a chance that you have tree roots nesting in your sewer line.

Sewer Smells

This is usually one of the key signs that cause homeowners to take action. And we don’t blame you. The pungent scent of sewage circling inside and around your property is the furthest away from pleasant.

Image: a woman inside her home plugging her nose. Your nose will be the first to tell you if you have a problem with the sewer line.

If you can smell sewage, there’s likely a sewer line clog. More often than not, a broken pipe is the culprit, and said broken pipe can be attributed to an overabundance of tree roots.

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

At this point, you’re able to spot the problem. So, how do you fix it? Is drain clearing something you can do by yourself? To put it lightly, this isn’t a DIY job.  And it shouldn’t be attempted by the average homeowner.

Image: a plumbing snake machine with tree roots twisted around the top of the snake.

If you have tree roots in your sewer line, or you’ve simply spotted one or two of the tell-tale signs, you’ll need to contact a professional.

Acting quickly is key. The further the roots spread, the more extensive the damage.

Do Not Treat Tree Roots with Chemicals

It’s fundamental that you don’t attempt to solve the problem with chemical formulas you can buy in gardening and home improvement stores.

Chemical drain cleaners can corrode pipes. They also may not break down the big clog that’s jamming your system, leading to further headaches and repairs.

How to Avoid Tree Roots in the Sewer Line

If you’ve already paid to have this problem solved, it’s understandable that you don’t want it happening again. And if you’re a stranger to this, it’s an experience you don’t want to discover.

Image: a broken pipe filled with tree roots. With tree roots in the sewer line, you could be dealing with burst pipes.

So, how exactly do you avoid tree roots growing in your sewer line?

Be Mindful with Landscaping

You now know that trees will spread their roots toward a water source.

So, if and when you decide to plant a tree, ensure you’re cautious and consider the positioning.

Avoid planting anything close to your sewer line in the future.

Replace Any Broken Pipes

A fractured or broken pipe is like a moth to a flame for tree roots. It grants them easy access to invade and spread.

So, if you have a broken pipe, it’s best to have them replaced before a tree root can spread into it and cause more damage.

Consider An Annual Plumbing Inspection

The best cause of action is to prevent tree roots spreading in your sewer line.

So, you should consider scheduling annual plumbing inspections with a licensed plumber.

That way, you’re able to keep on top of the situation. Plus, if any symptoms reveal themselves, you can act quickly and minimize potential damage.

Tree roots can be a pest for your sewer lines. So, make sure you follow the tips and tricks laid out in this article to avoid damage to your property. For those homeowners who are dealing with tree roots in the sewer line, do not hesitate to reach out to the experts at ASI.