Roots in the Sewer Line? Do this!

May 13th, 2014

There are few homeowner issues more frustrating and potentially expensive than tree roots invading your sewer lines. Tree and shrub roots can cause substantial damage to your sewer system if left unchecked. Even more exasperating is the fact the no pipes are immune to invading tree roots­ – clay, PVC, and concrete sewer pipes are all susceptible to moisture-seeking roots, which then cause cracks in your pipes, sometimes leading to repair or replacement. What should you do if you suspect tree roots invading your sewer line?

  • Practice prevention. To prevent any further damage to your pipes, do not plant any more shrubs or trees near your sewer lines. Many kinds of trees and shrubs need moisture to grow, and if they cannot find it elsewhere, they will extend their roots into your sewer system, causing cracks, holes, and pressure that can cause damage not only to your sewer pipes, but to your home itself. If you feel you must, plant small, slow-growing species such as Amur maple, dogwood, redbud, Japanese maple, or fringe tree. You can consult a landscaper as well as to where you should place plants, shrubs, and trees. Water-seeking trees near your sewer pipes should be replaced every eight to ten years, so that the roots don’t have any more time to get into your pipes and cause or exploit cracks and holes.


  • Use a commercial root killer. If you already suspect tree root invasion, you can try using a commercial root killer to halt root growth. Remember, first and foremost, that you are working with dangerous chemicals, so take all manner of caution when handling them. Follow all instructions to the letter, and protect your skin and eyes. Most commercial root killers work similarly: you must pour the solution down a drain such as a toilet. The chemicals then kill any tree roots it comes into contact with on their journey through your sewer pipes. However, like any chemical pipe cleaner, this could prove corrosive to your pipes, leaving them just as damaged.


  • Hire a professional to take care of the issue. A good rule of thumb is that if you suspect tree roots are cracking your pipes, turn to an expert first. Unless you’re uncommonly skilled at plumbing, a tree root invasion is best left to professional plumbers. Usually, a professional plumber will determine whether root invasion is a problem as well as its severity, and then offer a less damaging yet more effective solution to the problem than commercial root killer. Not only will a professional take care of your tree root invasion, you’ll be left with the peace of mind that the job has been done right.

When you need the help of a professional plumber, call Benjamin Franklin Plumbing. We will get the job done for you.