Trees and bushes surrounding your home make for an aesthetically pleasing atmosphere, but they come with risks as well.  When growing within 10 feet of your home’s sewer line, there is a risk of the roots from these trees and bushes penetrating the line.  It makes sense when you think about it.  Roots seek out nutrients, and sewer lines contain water and organic matter.  It is only normal that roots are attracted to these lines.  Pipes with small existing cracks or seal leaks are especially vulnerable.

So, what happens when roots find their way to a leak in the sewer line?  One word, invasion.  Roots are constantly growing, so they will likely continue to do so throughout the sewer line.  This will no doubt cause blockages and back-ups.  If left untreated, root growth can also cause cracks and permanent damage to the pipes, making for unpleasant and dangerous conditions for members of the household.

Signs You Might Have Roots Invading Your Sewer Line

Because this problem occurs below your home and/or yard, you won’t necessarily notice it happening, especially in the early stages.  However, the following are some signs that you may have roots invading the sewer line near your home.

  • Slow draining water in multiple drains (if the problem occurs in a single drain only, there is likely another cause).
  • Gurgling sounds or a backup of sewage upon flushing the toilet – these are often signs of blockages in the sewer lines.
  • Sinkholes in your lawn may signify severe damage to your sewer line, and if left as it, could cause damage to your home’s foundation as well.
  • Odors (especially those that smell like sulfur) also often mean critical issues are going on below your lawn.

Preventative Measures to Take to Avoid Root Growth in Sewer Lines

The most obvious method to preventing this type of problem would be to not plant trees or bushes within 10 feet of your sewer line.  The lines for each home are unique, so it is important to identify where yours are located before planting anything that might grow large roots over time.  A professional plumber or your local public works office should be able to help identify underground utilities if you aren’t sure.  Another option is to utilize Call-Before-You-Dig.

Also, avoid planting trees with invasive roots in favor of slower-growing types that are less aggressive.

However, those purchasing homes with existing landscaping may have little or no control over this.  Therefore, there are some other measures you can take to avoid root growth in your sewer lines.  A strategic plan of preventative maintenance can help ensure you prepare for this occurrence and eliminate its chance to escalate. 

When possible, consider removing larger trees that may damage your sewer line.  Alternatively, some homeowners build physical barriers between tree roots and their pipes to prevent root growth from expanding further.

Pipe Camera Inspections for Peace of Mind

Regular inspections of the sewer line can help catch root growth in pipes in its early stages or even before it becomes an issue.  With advancements in technology, a plumber can use a pipe inspection camera to check the status of your sewer lines and look for any of the signs of potential root growth. 

If any is identified, they can advise on the stage of the damage and how best to treat the problem, hopefully preventing the need to dig up the pipe (or sections of it) in the future.  In the early stages of this issues, plumbers are sometimes able to annually snake the lines and remove any growth rather than replacing the sewer line.

Costs of Ignoring the Potential of Sewer Line Damage

Once roots have invaded your sewer line, you must take action to avoid costly repairs in the future.  Digging up sewer lines to replace either sections or their entirety can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars.  Homeowner’s insurance often doesn’t cover replacing the pipes due to root growth.  You can purchase a supplemental sewer/water maintenance policy that may cover this, but most households don’t currently have this addition.

Root Growth in Westchester County

Public works sectors such as the Yonkers Sewer Department are constantly combating the issue of root growth in sewer lines.  It is equally as important that homeowners do the same on their property to avoid costly repairs down the line.

Flotechs Plumbing and Heating has invested in the technology that allows us to detect issues such as tree roots penetrating sewer lines.  Early identification of this occurrence can save headaches (not to mention time and money) down the road.  Located in Yonkers, we serve all of Westchester County. Our highly trained plumbers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us and we’ll be happy to set up an appointment for your home or business.