It’s smart to spend some time preventing tree roots in sewer pipes. Tree roots are the mortal enemy of sewer lines. Trees like sewer pipes because they offer water and nutrients, especially if they have a small leak. Tree roots can quickly take advantage of your sewer lines, crushing them or growing into them, causing either a severe clog or a severe leak which is not always covered by insurance. This is an expensive problem to deal with, so it’s better to learn how to stop rots from coming back.

1. Spot Problem Trees

If you have trees on your property, you should identify their species so you can determine how large they will grow and how invasive their roots tend to be. Certain trees, like willows, elms and poplars are notorious for damaging sewer lines and home foundations.

Also, it’s not just trees that can cause issues with sewer lines. Shrubs like bamboo, wisteria, creeping euonymus, and other can also damage your sewers.

If you’re adding a tree to your property, choose small varieties with weaker roots and plant them far away from your sewer lines. Your arborist will have recommendations for trees that are the least likely to cause sewer problems.

2. Cut the Roots

Sometimes homeowners don’t want to remove potentially damaging trees because they have sentimental value, are an endangered species, or add valuable shade or good looks to the property. If so, you can have the roots of the tree cut back from the sewer line.

This can prevent problems but is always a bit risky. It’s hard to know exactly when the tree will need it’s roots cut back, although an arborist can give you an estimate on how fast the particular tree’s roots should grow. You will be cutting back the roots at least once per year.

If possible, you may look into transplanting the tree a bit further away from the line. In general, younger trees are more likely to survive transplant.

3. Chemical Treatments

Certain chemical treatments and sewer line guards (which may be chemical or physical) can protect your sewer lines from tree roots. Certain chemicals, including bleach, burn tree roots, so these treatments stop roots from coming back. Chemicals are often applied after the tree roots are cut.

Or, you can add sleeves to any section of your sewer line that is within range of your tree. The sleeves are treated with a chemical which deters tree roots, but don’t run less of a risk of leeching.

4. Regular Sewer Inspections

A tiny crack in your sewer line can give a tree enough room to grow into. Therefore, it’s wise to regularly have your lines inspected. Video sewer line inspections will find any tree roots that have begun to sneak into the line. They can also find cracks that a tree can take advantage of.

Sewer line inspections are the best way to find tree root problems that are in the line, as you don’t need to dig up the whole line to have a look. Sewer line inspections are less costly and less fuss than taking a shovel to your yard.