Roots In Sewer Line Explained

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Sewer lines are designed to remove waste from commercial and residential buildings however, backups occur quite often when the sewage encounters an obstruction from reaching the city sewer line.  The invasion of tree roots in a sewer line is the single most common factor a homeowner will encounter when facing a sewer line backup. If the infestation of tree roots is not treated in the early stages, they may force the need for a sewer line repair or replacement. Any crack, separation or opening in a sewer line serves as a tree roots paradise; small hair like roots will sense the warm water vapors and grow toward the pipe like metal towards a magnet.  Once the root reaches the pipe it will look for any cracks or crevices as an entranceway.  When the small roots enter the pipe it comes in contact with all of the essential nutrients needed to survive (minerals, oxygen & water) and may grow as large as the pipe itself in some cases.

Options for unclogging a sewer line

  1. The mechanical auger is an easy method where a metal screw like tool with a spiral head is sent down the sewer pipe to clear the roots from the sewer line but only serves as a temporary fix.  The auger cuts the roots it comes in contact with but does not completely remove all roots in the pipe.  The roots that have been cut will start the growth process all over and fill the sewer line in a short period of time.
  2. Utilizing a video camera in the sewer line will not have any impact on the root growth however; it is a very useful tool as it will show the severity of the root problem which is usually much worse than the homeowner expects.
  3. One of the most successful chemicals used in killing treat roots is copper sulfate crystals, when used properly it can greatly assist an existing root problem from getting worst.  The copper serves as a poison that sits on the bottom of the pipe killing any roots it encounters.
  4. Hydro-jetting uses high velocity water pressure streams that are strong enough to cut through and clear roots that have accumulated over the years.  The hydro-jet enters the pipe through the sewer clean-out and consists of a large tank of water,  heavy duty hose, nozzle, and a machine that creates up to 3,500 psi to push the water through the sewer line.
  5. Repairing or replacing the sewer line is the last option as it becomes quite costly yet is the only guaranteed option that will relieve your sewer line of tree roots for many years to come.

What do roots in a sewer line mean for you?

If a pre-existing root issue is not tended to in the early stages of occurrence, it may result in the need for a sewer pipe replacement.  Once roots have entered the pipe they obstruct the sewage from naturally flowing on gravity from the building to the city sewer.  A homeowner should maintain the entire sewer line from the house to the city sewer as it is very common for tissues and grease to get caught in the roots resulting in complete failure of the sewer line.  It is important to pay attention to how your sewer line runs in the yard prior to planting any trees.  You can take precautionary measures in planting trees that are known to grow slowly and place them as far from the sewer line as possible.

Contact Harris Water Main & Sewer Contractors for any tree root related questions at 718-495-3600