Tree Roots And Sewer Lines: What You Must Know

Every homeowner knows that doing things like disposing of paper towels in a toilet or pouring grease down a kitchen drain can lead to sewer clogs. One potential problem they may not be aware of until it's too late, however, is tree roots. Yes, tree roots are one of the main sources of sewer drain troubles and, in some instances, they can create significant damage to your sewer pipes. Here are some key facts you should know about this important issue.


Although it may seem strange that a tree root has the ability to enter a sewer pipe, this phenomenon is actually quite common. Tree roots need water and oxygen to survive and are drawn to the wastewater and oxygen in your sewer drain.

Sometimes tree roots enter the sewer drain through cracks in the pipes. This often happens with older sewer lines that are in disrepair. A crack is not actually necessary for a root to break through the pipe, however. As strange as it may seem, tree roots are strong enough to force their way through a sewer pipe even if no cracks exist.


If a root has entered your sewer system, one of the most common signs is slow draining in your house. The drains or toilets may even back up. Another common sign is unpleasant odors near your plumbing fixtures. Also, watch for mushy spots in your yard where wastewater is leaking out and causing the ground to soften.


One solution to the problem is to take a metal tool, known as an auger, and place it down the sewer pipes. By pushing the auger back and forth, you should eventually be able to break up the roots, if the problem isn't too serious. You can also rent a machine that powers the auger for more severe clogs caused by tree roots.

Of course, not every homeowner will want to perform this type of dirty job themselves. Fortunately, you can hire a drain cleaning service to do the job for you. An advantage of using a professional service like this is that they have specialized equipment that makes breaking up the roots much easier.

For example, the typical drain cleaning service will be able to run a small camera down into the pipes. This allows them to discover the exact extent of the problem before starting any repair efforts. The service can also advise you on how to prevent any tree roots from harming your sewer system in the future. Contact a service, like Equisure Inspectors, for more help.