If you experience frequent issues with clogs and sewer backups, the problem may be related to tree roots growing inside your sewer line. Roots can grow out over a long distance in search of water and nutrients, and the wastewater that flows through the sewer line has exactly what the roots need. As such, the roots will often grow towards the sewer line and then eventually surround the line. If there is even a tiny crack or hole in the pipe, small roots can get inside. The water and waste in the pipe will nourish the roots and cause them to grow out of control, eventually taking over the entire pipe. Larger roots can also punch a hole in the sewer line or put enough pressure on the pipe that it collapses or bursts. The good news is that there are a few different options that can help to prevent roots from affecting your pipes, and here are some of the steps you may want to consider to protect your sewer line from roots.
Avoid Plants With More Invasive Root Systems
The choice of which plants, trees, and shrubs you use in your landscaping can make a major difference in whether or not roots start growing into your sewer line. You don’t want to plant any type of tree or shrub directly on top of the sewer line, but there are also certain trees that you really don’t want anywhere near the pipe. Some faster-growing types of trees have extremely invasive root systems that will eventually spread out over a huge area as they continue to branch out in search of water and nutrients. Some species to avoid include oak, poplar, beech, sycamore, and aspen trees. Birch, maple, and willow trees also have quite extensive root systems and should also be avoided.
Any larger trees should always be a substantial distance away from the sewer line to reduce the risk of their roots eventually growing into the line. Smaller trees and shrubs are typically fine being within a few feet of the sewer line as long as they have a small root ball. Some species to consider are cedar, cypress, magnolia, and ash trees, as these all have less invasive root systems and will pose less of a threat to your sewer line. Some types of fruit trees can be a good choice as well as many of them also have smaller root balls and less invasive root systems.
Create a Physical Barrier
Another great option is to install some type of physical barrier that will block roots from reaching your sewer line. Most landscaping companies will offer a few options, such as plastic panels or rolls of metal sheeting, or composite fabric. After digging up the area around the sewer line, the barriers are installed so that it surrounds the sewer line to stop any roots from growing into the pipe. These barriers can also protect your driveway, porch, and other concrete features from being damaged by roots.
Use Chemicals to Stop Root Growth
You can also find chemicals that inhibit root growth and protect sewer lines. Some of the most effective chemicals include copper sulfate, sodium bentonite, and potassium hydroxide, all of which will help to stop tree roots from growing around your sewer line without causing any harm to the tree. The chemicals are spread in the area around the entire length of the sewer line, and they then seep into the soil and inhibit any tree roots from growing in the area. Most of these chemicals work by changing the pH of the surrounding soil so that it isn’t conducive to root growth, which causes the roots to avoid the treated area.
Replace Your Sewer Line With PVC Pipe
Most homes built anytime from the 1970s or 1980s and onward use PVC pipe for the sewer line. If your home was built before this, your sewer line could be made from either clay or cast iron pipe instead. Clay and cast iron are much more susceptible to invasive tree roots as the joints between each section of pipe tend not to be sealed all that tightly. This can allow tiny roots to penetrate into the pipe, where they will start to grow much bigger and take over the pipe.
PVC pipe is a much better choice as each joint and connection is glued to create a tight seal and prevent gaps where tree roots can get into the pipe. For this reason, we would highly recommend replacing your sewer line with PVC pipe if your home currently has a cast iron or clay sewer line. While this will require a fairly substantial investment, it can be well worth it as it greatly reduces the chance of roots affecting your sewer line. Depending on the location of your sewer line, trenchless pipe bursting may be an option for replacing your sewer line with PVC pipe without needing to dig up your entire yard to access the pipe.
Reline Your Existing Sewer Line
If your sewer line is still mostly in good shape and you don’t want to replace it, pipe relining may also be an option. Relining uses a special composite resin that adheres to the insides of the existing pipe and essentially creates a new pipe within the existing line. The process works by inserting an inflatable tube into the sewer line. The tube is then inflated to extend through the length of the line and fills up the pipe.
The outsides of the tube are coated in a composite resin or epoxy, which cures and hardens to repair any cracks or damage. The resin also creates a seamless path and forms a hard barrier that will prevent roots from growing through the joints and connections in the existing pipe. Most pipe relining products are rated to last for 50 years or more, so you won’t have to worry about roots or needing to replace your sewer line for decades to come. Another advantage of pipe relining is that it can usually be performed without needing any digging, making it a great alternative to a sewer line replacement.
Reroute Your Sewer Line Away From Existing Roots
If you have any large, older trees in your yard, there is a high chance that the roots are already growing all around your sewer line. Cutting down the trees and then poisoning their root systems is one option that will help protect your sewer line, but most people aren’t willing to do this. If you’re unwilling to sacrifice your trees, another option is to reroute your existing sewer line so that it runs much further away from the tree roots. While this will typically require a much bigger investment and more extensive work than simply replacing the sewer line, rerouting the pipe is still a good option that can protect your sewer line without you needing to cut those big, beautiful trees down.
If you suspect that your sewer line is affected by tree roots, you can count on AJ Danboise Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical for help. We can inspect the entire sewer line with a camera to check the condition of the pipe and look for roots. Our team can help if you need your sewer line repaired or replaced or if you need any other plumbing or drain cleaning service in the Farmington Hills area. For more information on our sewer line services or to schedule a sewer line inspection, contact us today.