Tree Roots : Drain’s Worst Enemy

Your entire household drain system is built on the fact that water flows downhill.

The main drain, which is located under your house branches off and is connected to each drain fixture in your home. All drains come back to one place: sewer or septic drain line.

Getting Rid of Roots

Sprawling Trees around your house are searching for nutrients and moisture. Their roots tend to spread, and break sewer lines until the pipes are packed. Roots in the main drain are a pain and difficult to deal with. Tree roots grow towards the vapor to the point of its source. The source of the vapor is usually a crack in the pipes or a loose joint. Once the tree roots reach a crack or loose joint, they will grow through the opening to reach nutrients and moisture inside. Once inside, the roots will continue to grow, and if not disturbed, they will eventually completely fill the pipe with hair-like root masses.

As roots continue to grow, they expand and exert considerable pressure at the crack or joint where they entered the pipe. The force will break the pipe and may result in total collapse of the pipe. Severe root intrusion and pipes that are structurally damaged will require costly replacement.

Fixing them by removal and replacement of the pipe is very costly and can be several thousands of dollars depending on what needs replacing and how easy it is to access the pipe. Of course, these sewer lines are usually buried quite a bit underground and there are roots in it, they’re likely to be under a tree root. It’s a big job.

The next best thing to do is to treat the pipe with an anti-root treatment to help kill the roots in the pipes before they become an issue. However, if the drain is plugged, you may be beyond the point of using a anti-root treatment. In that case you need to have a power drain auger run through your drain.

What You Can do if You Have Tree Roots

Once roots are in your lateral they will likely cause an eventual blockage. The best way to prevent this is to schedule regular cleaning of your sewer lateral. The common method of removing roots from sanitary sewer service pipes involves the use of augers, root saws, and high-pressure flushers. It is also important to keep your sewer lateral structurally sound. Any structural fault can allow roots to find a way into your sewer lateral.

If the problem has persisted outside of your own capabilities, you should hire a plumber to video your sewer lateral to determine the condition and if any repairs are needed.

Originally published at on April 21, 2015.