Mature trees add beauty and shade to landscapes, but their roots can cause extensive damage to sewer pipes. Roots grow into the pipes because they like it in there! Sewer pipe contain water, nutrients and oxygen – the essential elements for trees to grow. Aside from sewer blockages and backups caused by Fat, oils and greases, tree roots growing inside sewer pipes are one of the most expensive sewer maintenance items experienced by our customers. Roots from trees growing on private property and on parkways throughout the service area are responsible for many of the sanitary sewer service backups and damaged sewer pipes experienced in our community. Each homeowner is responsible for maintaining their sewer laterals – the pipe that connects the sewer pipes in the house to the main sewer pipe, which is usually in a street. Because the pipes are buried and out of sight, homeowners usually don’t have any clues to potential problems in their laterals until it’s too late. The flow of warm water inside sewer pipes causes vapour to escape to the cooler soil surrounding the pipe. Tree roots grow toward the vapour to the point of its source. The source of the vapour is usually a crack in the pipes or a loose joint. Once the tree roots reach the crack or loose joint they will grow through the opening to reach the plentiful nutrients and moisture inside. Once inside the pipe the roots will continue to grow and if not disturbed, they will eventually completely fill the pipe with hair-like root masses. These can act as a net as they catch household fats, oils, grease, grit, tissue paper and other debris discharged from the residence. Slowly flowing drains are the sign that the system is having a problem from root. Homeowners will notice the signs of a slow-flowing drainage system by hearing gurgling noises from their toilets bowls. A complete blockage will occur if no action are taken to remove the roots/blockage. As roots continue to grow they expand and exert considerable pressure at the crack or joint where they entered the pipe. The force exerted by the root growth will break the pipe and may result in total collapse of the pipe. Severe root intrusion and pipes that are structurally damaged will require replacement. Homeowners should be aware of the location of their laterals and sewer clean out pipe, and refrain from planting certain types or trees and hedges near the sewer lines. Trees should be located more than 10 feet from sewer lines to minimize root intrusion. Also homeowners should choose small, slow growing species with less aggressive root systems, and replace them before they get too large for their planting area.

What can you do if you have tree roots in your lateral?

Once roots are in your lateral they will likely cause an eventual blockage. The best way to prevent this is to schedule regular drain root cutting of your sewer lateral. The common method of removing roots from sanitary sewer service pipes involves the use of augers, roots saws, and high pressure water jetting. It is also important to keep your sewer lateral structurally sound. Any structural fault can allow roots a way into your sewer lateral. You may want J&F Drainage to carry out a CCTV inspection of your lateral sewer to determine its condition and if any repairs are needed.