How to stop roots in sewer pipes

Posted on: March 18, 2011

Post Highlights

As the trees start to bloom in the Maryland and Washington, DC area this spring, one thing you don’t want to have to think about is how their roots are going to destroy your sewer system. Unfortunately, every year people from all over the Washington, DC area wind up at some point or another with pipes that are almost completely blocked because of tree roots.

How do you get roots in sewer pipes?

How do roots actually get into sewer pipes?  Well, it’s actually pretty interesting! Basically, when warm water flows through the sewer pipes, water vapor escapes and makes its way into the cooler soil around it. The tree roots can sense the vapor and grow toward it until they reach the sewer pipe. They then look for a crack or a loose joint fitting and extend small, hair-like roots right into the pipe. Pipes contain all the essential nutrients – water, minerals & oxygen – that plants need to thrive, so eventually those hair-like roots begin to expand, cracking the pipe open more and allowing more roots into the sewer pipe. Before long, roots in the sewer pipe can completely block off the line and cause a seriously damaging backup.

What do roots in the sewer pipe mean for me?

Unfortunately for you, roots in sewer pipes, if not taken care of quickly, can cause some of the most costly plumbing problems you’ll face as a homeowner. And, as a homeowner, you are responsible for maintaining the sewer pipe that connects your home to the main sewer. When roots get into sewer pipes, anything you put down the drain, especially things like toilet tissue, fats, oils and grease get caught up behind the hair-like root masses and can eventually completely block the pipe.

How can I stop roots in sewer pipes?

One of the biggest problems with getting roots in sewer pipes is that it’s hard to tell you have the problem until it’s too late – after all, when was the last time you looked in your sewer pipes? In fact, pretty much the only warning you’ll get when you have roots in your sewer pipes is slow flowing drains coupled with a gurgling sound coming from your toilet. If you experience this, have a plumbing company come out and clean your pipes as soon as possible – the longer you wait, the more expensive the procedure will be.

Also, make sure you know where your main sewer pipe is before you plant any new trees in your yard. To avoid getting roots in the pipes, make sure trees are planted at least 10ft away from sewer lines -the further, the better.  Also, choose mainly small, slow growing trees as opposed to larger ones – small trees have less aggressive root systems that are less likely to invade your sewer and try to get their roots in the pipes.

What do I do if there are already roots in my sewer pipes?

If you already have roots in your sewer pipes, it is almost guaranteed that they will eventually cause a blockage if not dealt with quickly. To clear out the roots in your sewer pipes, you will need to call a plumber, who will use augers, root saws and high pressure flushers to cut and wash them out.

Once you’ve taken care of the roots in your sewer pipes, how do you keep them out? The first thing you should consider is installing plastic root barriers around your pipes. If your existing sewer pipes are already completely destroyed, replace them with concrete or PVC pipes – these are much more durable than ceramic or clay pipes and carry a much lower risk of cracking, making it much harder for roots to enter.

Don’t let tree roots in your pipes create huge problems for your plumbing this spring. If you need a local plumbing company in Maryland or Washington, DC to clear out the roots in your pipes, call James A. Wheat & Sons today!