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How to Prevent Tree Roots from Destroying Your Sewer

Posted on Aug 23, 2015

It shouldn’t surprise that tree roots naturally grow towards sewer pipes. The condensed water on the pipe walls is a rich source of water and nutrients. When the root finds a weak spot, it will virtually break into the line and clog the waste flow. Besides broken pipes, it can cause serious health and environmental problems and repairing and replacing the line is not a cheap venture. Now you can avoid this unhappy situation by introducing these simple rules whenever you need to plant a tree in your yard.

Know your sewers


Before you decide to plant a new tree you should determine the exact position of the sewer lines. If you bought a house and weren’t actually present when the pipes were laid, you can call your local public works department, or even better the national 811 “Know What’s Bellow – Call Before You Dig” service. By notifying them at least five days before the spade hits the dirt, they will contact the affected utility companies, and these will send a locator who will outline the underground utility lines for you.

Know your trees

Smart landscaping is maybe the best prevention of the burst pipelines and the subsequent budget hole. By knowing where your lines run, you can plan fewer plants along that route. If your landscaping scheme includes large trees, plant them away from sewers, so their roots can’t reach the pipes. Alternatively, you can opt for so called sewer-friendly trees that grow slowly and have a small root ball, like various maples (genus Acer).

Block roots from hitting the lines

Specialized stores offers several types of commercial root barriers that prevent tree and shrub roots from damaging the sewer lines. They work by slowly releasing certain types of chemicals like copper sulfate and potassium hydroxide. These compounds are environmentally friendly and safe to use in residential areas. The only thing you need to do is spread these barriers near the sewer lines and no root will grow that way. You can also bury metal or wood barriers along the pipes for physical separation.

The telltale signs


Home sewer drains can clog from time to time. In most cases these blockages are simple to clear and there is no need to call the cavalry. However, if you experience frequent clogging, you might be facing a bigger problem, like an invasive root. Sometimes you can tell the root-damaged line by gurgling noise from your toilet, which is the sign of an overflowing or slow-flowing drain, we learn from seasoned Monmouth County plumbers.

The Waterworks

If your sewage lines clog more frequently, or you find them impossible to clear by yourself, this is the right time to call the professional plumbing service who will inspect both drain and the sewer lines. By lowering a special flexible camera probe, a plumber can inspect the pipes and identify damaged spots. Then you can have all your options lined in front of you. In the case of a serious damage, the pipes might have to be replaced.

In a nutshell, the best options you have is to plant away from the sewers or choose species that have a shallow root. You can get additional safety by laying chemical or physical root barriers and maintaining your drain and sewers once in a few months.

About Lillian Connors

If one thing is true about Lillian Connors, her mind is utterly curious. That’s why she can’t resist the urge to embark on a myriad of home improvement projects and spread the word about them. She’s also deeply into green practices, cherishing the notion that sustainable housing and gardening will not only make us far less dependent on others regarding the dwellings we inhabit and what we eat, but also contribute to our planet being a better place to live on. When she is not trying to improve the things around her (and herself, for that matter), she likes to lose herself in a good book and sip on an occasional appletini.

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