Tree Roots Lead to Sewer Replacement in Windsor Terrace Brooklyn
February 8, 2014

It is common that a sewer line may need a routine cleaning after suffering from root intrusion.  A plumber may use a sewer snake to assist in root removal.  The snake is inserted through the trap inside the house and is pushed until it encounters the blockage. At this point, it is maneuvered in a way that the blade can cut through the roots restricting the sewage flow.  It is also common that a plumber uses a Hydro jet machine for root removal.  The hydro jet uses the power of pressurized water for root removal and is the most effective method. However, neither of these methods are permanent solutions.

A homeowner in Windsor Terrace Brooklyn had his drain cleaner removing roots from his sewer line for several years.  He had purchased the house in 2007 and was aware that there was a root problem.  He continued to perform a routine cleaning of the sewer line on a bi-annual basis, this worked well for many years.  The routine cleaning was able to clear most of the roots in the line but there were large roots that had grown too big and too strong.  Over the years the roots continued to grow and finally had reached a point where they were restricting 85% of sewage flow.  Neither of the pipe clearing methods were working and the homeowner was at a the point of no return.  His plumber had made one last attempt to clear the sewer resulting in another backup 24 hours later.

Actual root from inside pipe
Actual root from inside pipe
Harris begins excavation
Harris begins excavation

Harris Water Main & Sewer Contractors was one of the 4 licensed, bonded and insured sewer contractors that were called by the homeowner for a free estimate.  The homeowner had decided to hire Harris Water within 24 hrs. of meeting with the company rep.  He later revealed that his decision was based on pricing, level of professionalism and Google reviews.Harris obtained all required DEP and DOT permits and inspections before starting the new pipe installation the very next day. The first day of the installation began by installing pipe from the new house trap to the curb line where the tree was located.  It is common for a Brownstown in Brooklyn to have the sewer line running underneath the front stoop.   To avoid any unnecessary damage to the stoop, the installation crew made a 15 foot tunnel underneath the steps.  This tunnel ran through the foundation wall where the new house trap was installed.

Location of tunnel
Location of tunnel
Making tunnel under stoop
Making tunnel under stoop

The sewer installation required a Parks Department Permit as well as having an ISA Certified Arborist on site to protect the city tree.  Harris was required to build a wood barrier around the tree for protection. The tunnel was completed underneath the steps when the new 6” cast iron pipe was installed, all in time for the DEP inspection.

Tree protection
Tree protection
Hand dig around conduit
Hand dig around conduit

The next day excavation took place in the roadway when they encountered another utility conduit.   The crew now had to hand dig, as opposed to using the backhoe.  The excavation process for most sewer installations are completed with a backhoe in order to complete the job in a timely fashion.  The crew quickly adapted to keep the sewer installation on pace for the two day period, as originally estimated with the home owner.  The roadway excavation was completed along with the pipe installation before the DEP inspector arrived later in the afternoon.

All DEP inspections were approved followed by the replacement of concrete the very next day.  This is another situation where Harris Water was able to help another Brooklyn family in an emergency situation, all in a cost and time efficient manor.


Contact Harris Water 24-7 at 718-495-3600 for over 95 years’ experience in New York’s five Boroughs.