When our customers find tree roots growing into their sewer drains, many of them turn to a tried and true plumbing tool: the drain snake. Yes, snaking your sewer line is one way to get rid of a tree root infestation, but it’s far from a perfect solution.

Why You Shouldn’t Snake your Sewer Drain to Clear Out Tree Roots

This last year, one of our customers called us for a sewer repair because of a tree root invasion. At that point, they were snaking their line more than once per year to keep the roots at bay, but never realized what it was doing to their sewer line.

When roots get into your sewer line, water starts leaking out. Over time, the water turned the hard soil that supported the pipe into mud, and then into soup. This caused the pipe to slip downwards and lose grade, which means water pooled up in it instead of draining to the sewer main.

For a commercial property, a 300 foot sewer lateral isn’t unusual. In this case, opting for a trenchless sewer replacement at the first sign of trouble would have cost about $30,000. Instead, the cost of digging out the old line, regrading the soil, and other complications cost the customer over $65,000. This, of course, does not include the cost of repeatedly snaking the line, either.

What to Do if Roots Get Into Your Sewer Lateral

The very first thing you should do with a possible root infestation is to call a plumber for a video sewer inspection. That will let you see exactly where the roots are getting in, just how exensive the damage is, and how much of the sewer line is affected.