Are you experiencing the sluggish drain of water in your sink or bathtub after you use it? Can you hear weird gurgling sounds coming from your toilet when you flush? If you experience these strange phenomena often, it could mean the sewer lines of your property have tree or shrub roots. Though it sounds like a fairy-tale from Jack in the Beanstalk, root intrusion happens more often than you think.
A small-root invasion in your sewer line is more than annoying. If you leave it untreated, it can cost you thousands of dollars in repairs down the line. Often, shrub and tree root serves as the primary culprits in sewer line issues, clogs, or stoppages. When you leave roots in your sewer line, they will continue to grow. In time, they will become thick enough to block your line. Hence, you have no choice but to do a whole pipe-relining. Read on to learn more about this issue and find solutions. Keep in mind, the only way you can find the best answer is to understand the problem.
Tree Roots Are Naturally Attracted to Sewer Lines
Though it may be hard to believe because of the nasty things that traverse your property’s sewer lines, they draw tree roots to them. After all, your pipes provide the necessities that they need to grow and thrive. Your pipe is full of water, oxygen, and other nutrients coming from your bodily excrement. Thus, your sewer pipes serve as a prime spot for any tree or shrub looking to plant and spread its roots.
The Science Behind This Natural Phenomenon
A loose joint or even a tiny crack in your pipe will let vapor escape. This element moves in the direction of cool soil. As trees and shrubs grow, their roots naturally search for a moist and pristine environment that can help them grow. Hence, they go in the direction of the crack because it has nutrients. Later on, they force their way into the loose joints or cracks, settling down and calling it their home.
The Effect of The Root Intrusion on the Pipes
Unfortunately, as roots continue to grow, they create a type of net that catches anything that traverses the line. With this block in place, it slows down your drainage system. It’s the reason behind your sluggish drain and gurgling toilet. If you don’t nip the problem in the bud, the roots will continue to grow. Sadly, the issue will escalate and become a total clog or block. By then, the giant roots could apply enough pressure that results in the collapse of your property’s sewer pipes. When that happens, the damage is already costly to repair.
Luckily for you, there are many ways to treat these roots in your sewer before the situation gets out of hand. The key to your success is to start the moment you notice a problem. There are a lot of simple solutions that you can try first. They are easy enough to administer on your own, not to mention they are affordable, too. You can first try to tackle the problem on your own, but if you have pressing issues, you can always ask a professional for help.
A Prevalent Fallacy Regarding Roots in Sewer Lines
So many people believe the misconception that roots are the culprit in breaking their sewer lines. However, this is a fallacy. The truth of the matter is the only reason your sewer lines become infiltrated by roots is that there is already a tiny crack or loose joint right from the start. As stated above, roots are naturally attracted to nutrients, water, and oxygen coming from your pipes. The moment a shrub or tree root sense this tiny leak, it will gravitate towards the area.
Notably, it is a natural predisposition to seek the best environment for their continued growth. Roots survive and thrive thanks to the cracks in your pipe lines. Remember, root systems are complex and comprised of many parts. You will find permanent roots responsible for stabilizing the shrub or tree. You will also encounter tinier root hairs spread out in search of oxygen, water, and nutrients. Depending on the size of the shrub or tree, they can reach up to a hundred feet or even more. Thus, your sewer pipes can be reached, and if they have tiny cracks, they shall be breached.
The Only Situation Where Roots Can Break a Sewer Pipe Externally
There is one possible scenario where a root can break a sewer pipe from the outside. This occurs when you plant a tree above the sewer line. Thus, you must be careful, so you won’t unknowingly break your own pipes.
If you plant a tree on top of your sewer system, the root ball will grow, as normal plants do. Eventually, the entire thing will envelop your pipes. It can grow into a massive five feet ball that applies pressure on your pipe system. In areas where the soil constantly moves, expands, and contracts, the root ball agitates the pipes, causing a break. The roots will not penetrate the pipe, but it is the pressure surrounding the area, which will cause your sewer system to break.
Thus, to prevent future issues, find out where your utility lines are before you begin planting. You can call a professional plumbing company to find out where you can plant new trees and shrubs. You can also opt to use slow-growing plants. This way, you don’t need to worry about roots invading your system.
Solutions to Get the Potentially Problematic Roots Out of the Sewer Line
Now, you may be wondering how to keep these pesky roots from creating havoc in your sewer lines. Well, you can start by making sure that you don’t plant anything on top of your utility line. Since the pipes are under the soil, you cannot see them. Thus, be cautious when doing your gardening or landscaping. However, if you bought a property that already has an existing tree or shrubs, then you can try the following remedies:
Dry the Roots With Rock Salt and Chemicals
One of the easiest solutions you can try is pouring rock salt into your toilet or drain. You can also try copper sulphate or sodium chloride from the hardware stores. Follow these easy steps:
- Pour a generous amount of salt or chemicals into your toilet and keep on flushing. Repeat the process several times.
- As for your drain, pour your salt or chemicals down there, too.
- After, avoid using your toilet and drain pipe for about eight hours to let these elements do their magic.
Rock salt and the above chemicals are known for drying out the roots. They zap the moisture from the roots, eventually killing them. If you do this routine every so often, you can keep your sewer pipes clear. However, proceed with cautions as the salt can kill the entire tree and surrounding plants. Similarly, chemicals can weaken the pipe and cause corrosion over time. Remember, this is a temporary fix for pipes with small root hairs. For bigger roots, you need a professional who will seal the cracks. Breaks in the line mean the roots will eventually grow back.
Try a Store-Bought Foaming Root Killer
You can also try a foaming root killer, which does as its name says. This herbicide kills the roots immediately upon contact. Furthermore, it leaves a residue that prevents new roots from snaking into your pipes. Best of all, this solution is said to be much gentler on your pipes.
The trick here is to catch the problem early. As soon as you hear gurgling sounds or experience a slow drain, pour this directly into the problem areas. For best results, make sure you follow the directions. If you perform this process several times a year, you can successfully eliminate the roots around your sewer lines.
Hire a Professional to Cut the Roots
If you have a big root problem, you can call a professional to cut the roots for you. They have a specialized sewer machine for the job. The pros connect it to a long cable with a root cutting attachment. Then, this cable is inserted into the line. As it spins, the cutting blades will eliminate all the roots that come into its patch. After which, the remaining debris is flushed out.
Though this approach provides you with a fix, it is still only temporary. If you have tiny cracks or loose joints in your pipes, it is highly likely that roots will find their way back into your system. In a few cases, the roots network is entrenched into the pipes. As a result, the cutting machine can no longer take them out. In this scenario, there’s no other choice but to expose the pipe, cut them off, and fix the crack.
Replace the Entire Sewer Pipe System
The most surefire way to ascertain that your piping system stays root-free is by replacing the entire system. Though you can do the temporary fixes above, if you don’t address the problem, it will come back. Eventually, you will need to deal with pipe relining.
- Take note; no one can predict how fast roots will reappear in your sewer lines. This all depends on the following:
- the kind of tree or shrub
- the nature of the soil,
- other environmental considerations
Thus, it is best to go ahead and prepare for a pipe replacement if a clogged toilet or sluggish drain is giving you grief.
Signs that Show You Have Roots in Your System
You can determine if your pipe has root issues if the clog in your drain or gurgling sound in your toilet keeps on recurring. If you successfully clear up a clog and it does not come back, chances are it is just a temporary problem. However, if you clear up the block, and it keeps coming back, then you must dig deeper. You are no longer dealing with a simple problem. Call a reputable plumber to help you make an assessment. They have a sewer camera that can help you see what is going on beneath the ground. If you are a diligent homeowner who wants to take preventive measures, you can also ask for a bi-annual sewer camera inspection.
How Much Will This Problem Cost
Cost is a primary consideration when dealing with plumbing issues. You may be wondering if your homeowner’s insurance can cover it. Sadly, since this line system is outside of your home, it is not covered. However, if this issue runs under your property’s slab, some companies provide coverage. The key is to know your insurance policy coverage. Call your agent and ask because they may partially cover flooding in your home caused by a root.
If you intend to have your sewer roots professionally removed, you need to fork out around a hundred dollars or more. This price only refers to the cutting job and depends on the severity of your issues. The more permanent solution of pipe replacement can run several thousands of dollars. Again, this all depends on the breaks and cracks.
Call Us for Professional Assistance
If you constantly hear odd noises in your toilet when you flush it, or you deal with annoying drain issues that make you feel frustrated, give us a call at San Diego Pipe Lining Company. You don’t need to deal with dirty water because we can clear it all up for you. If you suspect you have roots in your system, we have cutting tools to help take them out. In the same token, if you have old pipes that are in dire need of a replacement, we’ve got the crew, equipment, and skills to do that seamlessly. Every home situation is vastly different, so we would gladly give you a free consult to assess the problem and suggest the best solution.