Your sewer line is one of the most important parts of your plumbing system. We put a lot of trust in our sewer lines, and often don’t consider what would happen until it’s too late. One of the most common issues we see with sewer lines is tree roots.

Not just tree roots growing around sewer lines, tree roots growing in sewer lines. Unfortunately for most homeowners, tree roots and your sewer line go together like turkey and gravy. We’ll explain why there are tree roots in the sewer line and what you can do about it.

Roots Grow Toward a Water Source

We believe our plumbers are magicians. However, they can’t change the will of Mother Nature. Tree roots are naturally hardwired to grow in the direction of a water and oxygen source.

While this isn’t a problem in forests, parks, and other open spaces, it becomes a big deal in your suburban neighborhood. Tree roots are a very, very common reason we’re called to Los Angeles homes.

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

Yes, you can’t control the will of a strong, growing tree. However, here’s what happens when tree roots are actively growing in or around your sewer line.

Broken Pipes

It’s no news that trees are sturdy and robust. They need to be for their survival. And this extends to their roots. If you have even a hairline of a crack or hole in your pipes, a tree root will see this as an open invitation to set up camp.

Some pipes – specifically those made before the 1980s – aren’t built to withhold that type of pressure. So, they simply crack and break. Other pipes can withstand much more abuse. In these cases, we see tree roots growing inches, even feet, down sewer pipes.

Yard Sinkhole

If you have a broken pipe, you’ll end up with leaks. And, if you’re not careful, those leaks can spread quickly. When this happens, your lawn will handle much of the damage, with the potential to turn it from a nice yard to a sinkhole.

Plus, we don’t have to remind you that, due to the nature of a sewage leak, it’s not going to smell pleasant. But more on that later.

You Will Need Repairs

A broken and leaking pipe will need repairs. Unfortunately, it’s not something that gets better on its own. It gets worse over time. Meaning, that if you spot any sinkholes, wet spots in your yard, or other signs you have a broken pipe, get it looked at ASAP.

In short, the longer the problem is allowed to fester, the higher your repair bill and the longer it will take to fix.

Signs You Have Tree Roots in Your Sewer Line

By now, it’s pretty obvious that having tree roots in your sewer lines requires action. Plus, it’s now evident that it can spiral quickly.

But how do you know if you have a tree root problem in your sewer line in the first place? Here are the top signs that something is wrong.

Soft or Flooded Parts of the Lawn

If you notice a soft, squishy section on your lawn, it’s one of the more evident signs you have a problem with your sewer line. When a pipe is broken, water and sewage will seep out, which will cause a small—or large—flood.

To inspect and assess your yard for any signs of flooding, pay particular attention to the feeling of the grass. If you’ve noticed that one area is squishy and feels softer than the rest, it’s a tell-tale sign that there’s a sewer line clog.

In some extreme cases, your yard might be fully flooded. If so, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with a professional plumber as soon as possible.

Recurring Drain Clogs

If you need to routinely have your drain cleared out, that’s a sign you’re dealing with something like tree roots. For those who find themselves calling the plumber over and over again, keep note of how often you’re calling someone out. Then, you’ll be able to see how closely together your treatments have been.

Sewer Smells

One of the most unpleasant consequences of tree roots in your sewer line is the pungent stench of sewage. This is the last smell in the world you’d want anyone to associate with your family home. And if you can smell sewage and the scent is unwavering, you’ll need to get it seen as dealt with as possible.

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

By now, you understand the consequences of tree roots in your sewer line and how to spot the signs. Next, and perhaps most importantly, what should you do about it?

This is not something you can do on your own. You will need to contact a licensed plumber to get the tree roots out of the sewer line. It requires plumber-specific technology, equipment, and precision.

Do Not Treat Tree Roots with Chemicals

It’s tempting to purchase a chemical drain cleaner and call it a day, but this is a very bad idea. Some chemical drain cleaners can corrode and break your pipes without even touching the tree roots.

Oftentimes, tree root clogs are so big that a bottle of drain cleaner will be wholly ineffective.

How to Avoid Tree Roots in the Sewer Line

So, how exactly can you prevent tree roots from spreading in the sewer line?

Be Mindful of Landscaping

Tree roots will grow towards anything that gives them water. It’s not personal! It’s just how they survive. While you can’t change that fact of life, you can avoid planting your trees near your sewer line.

Make sure you know where your pipes are and avoid landscaping there. Also, consider trees that have slower-growing roots.

Replace Any Broken Pipes

A broken pipe – even if it’s just a hairline fracture – is a “welcome home” sign to tree roots. And while you may believe that a crack that small surely won’t do any harm, you’d be surprised at how quickly a root can get in and start growing.

When you’re faced with even the smallest of leaks or breaks in your plumbing, waste no time and get the pipe fixed or replaced. Failure to do so will cost you more money, time, and sanity.

Consider An Annual Plumbing Inspection

You should also consider scheduling a plumbing inspection with licensed a licensed plumber. During one of these inspections, a plumber will send a camera down your drain and inspect the line. They’ll let you know if anything major is wrong and what potential next steps could be.

Booking annual plumbing inspections means you have peace of mind knowing that everything is working as it should.

We know tree roots are a common cause for concern. If you’re a homeowner waging a plumbing war against tree roots, schedule an appointment with the experts at JW Plumbing, Heating and Air.

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