There are numerous things that can affect your home’s plumbing system and potentially clog your pipes. When thinking about clogs, most people tend to think about things using too much toilet paper and clogging the toilet or sinks that are clogged by food particles or drains. However, you may not be aware that those big, beautiful trees in your yard or even your neighbors can pose as big, or an even greater threat to your home’s sewage system. Tree roots are one of the most common causes of a clogged sewer line, and here is everything you need to know about how this happens and what you can do to fix it.

How Do Tree Roots Get Inside Pipes?

Older trees have extensive root systems. In many cases, the root system will be anywhere from two to three times larger than the tree itself. As the tree grows, roots continually grow out in search of moisture and nutrients. Unfortunately, your sewer line provides exactly what they are looking for since there is a constant supply of water and plenty of nutrients in human waste.

Tree roots most commonly get into your sewer line through small cracks or leaks. These can form due to flooding, shifting of the ground around the pipe or simply due to wear and tear and aging. However, in many cases, it is the tree roots themselves that are responsible for cracking the sewer line in the first place. Larger roots will have no issues cracking or punching a hole in the sewer line as they grow.

If even one tiny root gets inside the sewer line, it will continue to grow very quickly due to the water and nutrients. This will increase the size of the hole and allow even more roots to get inside. Once inside, the roots will also spread out and can quickly grow throughout the entire sewer line.

When this happens, all of those roots obviously prevent any solid waste from flowing through the pipe. This leads to a blockage and will eventually cause wastewater to begin backing up inside your showers, sinks, toilets and other drains.

Signs That You Have Tree Roots In Your Sewer Line

Sewage backups are the most obvious sign that you have tree roots obstructing your main sewer line. However, this problem can also occur because you flushed things down the sink or toilet that you shouldn’t have. Oil, grease and fat are the worst things to put down the drain as they can coagulate and harden inside your drains or your main sewer line. This forms a sticky coating on the inside of the pipes that can trap food particles and any other solids.

Paper towels, feminine hygiene products, flushable wipes, cotton pads, condoms and any other solids other than human waste or toilet paper should also never go into your plumbing. If your sewer line is clear and there is no fat built up inside it, these solids may easily make it through. However, if even a few tree roots or other obstructions are in the pipe, they can get trapped and cause the whole sewer line to clog up.

If your sewer line is fully clogged, a sewage backup is inevitable if you keep using your plumbing. However, in many cases, the tree roots or other obstructions may only partially clog your sewer line at first. Nonetheless, this issue still needs to be taken care of quickly to prevent it from fully backing up.

If your sewer line is partially clogged, it often results in water draining far more slowly than normal. You will often hear a gurgling sound inside your pipes along with this issue. If all of the drains in your home are slow, you should have your sewer line inspected immediately.

If your sewer line is partially clogged, it can trap waste inside. This often results in sewage odors emanating from your drains, which is another sign to watch out for. If you smell sewage in your yard, this requires immediate attention as it indicates that your sewer line is leaking.

If a leaking sewer line is left unchecked for a long period of time, it can sometimes cause a sinkhole to form in your yard around the sewer line. This results from all of the water disturbing the soil and causing it to collapse. If you ever see a sinkhole in your yard, you should never go near it as the ground could collapse further. You also need to immediately call a plumber to inspect the problem. You may also need to have your foundation inspected as all of the water may have damaged it as well.

How Are Tree Roots Removed From Pipes?

If your sewer line is clogged with tree roots, you will need to call a professional rooter service as this is definitely not a problem you can fix on your own. At Plumbtree Plumbing & Rooter, we specialize in drain cleaning and sewer line rooting. When inspecting a sewer line for tree roots, we will first run a camera down the pipe to determine what is causing the problem. This also enables us to make sure that the sewer line is intact and not leaking.

Depending on what is causing the blockage, how severe it is and the condition of the sewer line, we can eliminate the clog using either a rooter machine or hydro-jetting. A rooter machine uses an auger that is fed through the sewage cleanout outside your home down the length of the pipe. As the auger turns, it basically chews through any tree roots or other obstructions in its way.

When it is reversed, any roots or debris behind the auger are pulled out with it. If your pipes are seriously clogged with roots, the rooter will likely only be able to clear a few feet of pipe at a time. This means that the process will need to be done repeatedly until all of the roots have been removed.

If the roots are extremely thick, hydro-jetting is usually the first step. This involves spraying a high-pressure stream of water down the sewer line. The water pressure is high enough that it can almost instantly cut through most roots. We will then use the rooter machine to break up the bigger roots that the hydro-jetting couldn’t cut through. Finally, we’ll blast the sewer line again with water to flush any remaining roots and debris down into the sewer system out in the street.

If the inspection determines that you have tree roots in your sewer line, you will also need to have the pipe repaired due to the presence of cracks or holes. If the damage is more severe or the tree roots caused the sewer line to collapse, it will usually be necessary to replace the pipe entirely.

If the cracks or holes are fairly small, the line may be able to be repaired with an inflatable pipe tube. This tube is coated in epoxy. Once it is run all the way through the line, it is inflated and the epoxy will then harden inside the pipe to reseal it.

Professional Plumbing and Rooter Services

If you suspect your sewer line is clogged, our team of experts is here 24/7 to help. We specialize in drain cleaning, rooting, hydro-jetting and sewer line repairs. If you’re looking for the best plumbing and rooter service in San Jose, look no further than Plumbtree Plumbing & Rooter. Give us a call today to make your drain or sewer line issues a thing of the past.

Josh Gibson

Hi, I’m Josh. I’ve been around plumbing my whole life. When I was 5-6 years old my family built a home where I did a lot of the sanding of copper pipe and definitely some playing in the mud. Plumbing is a major part of my family as I am a fourth-generation plumber. The skills I bring to the job are a good technical knowledge of plumbing and code requirements. I am often complimented on my hands-on problem-solving skills.
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