Sewer Line Repair Tree Roots: How To Keep Tree Roots Out Of Your Sewer Line

Since the first sewer systems were built and implemented in the late 1850s in Chicago, tree roots have plagued residential and commercial homeowners for over a century.

Root infestation has been one of the leading catalysts of sewer line repair and one of the most common problems that can damage your sewer line.

Sewer lines carry waste from your home and lead it away to a treatment plant. Tree roots in your sewer system can cause clogs, which will result in backups and overflows of sewage into your home or yard.

We want to share some tips with you on how to identify tree roots in sewer lines, what problems they might be causing, and how you should go about getting them removed if they’ve penetrated too deeply!

Warning Signs You Have Tree Roots in Sewer Line Pipes

There are many signs homeowners can watch out for to keep their sewer pipe system running efficiently. Below we have outlined the most common signs to look out for.

  • Clogged drains are a sign of tree roots. If you continue to experience clogged drains, even after plunging the line or using a drain snake, it is possible that there are tree roots in your sewer lines.
  • Foul odors might also be an indicator of tree root invasion inside your sewer pipe. This can happen if sewage backs up and leaks out through the joints and cracks in the pipe wall, which will generally have been weakened by the intrusive tree roots.
  • Floor drain water level changes could indicate that there is something obstructing water flow down the pipe because of a broken joint between two lengths of pipe where they meet or tree roots.
  • Wastewater puddles near your home for more than one day on end without any rainfall, this could be a clear indicator or you are in need of a sewer repair.

Potential Damage from Tree Roots in your Sewer

Tree Roots often enter your sewer line through cracks and joints between two lengths of pipe where they meet. Over time, this can create a severe blockage as hair-thin stands form and create root ball obstructions and pressure changes.

The water flow can be reduced by as much a 90%. This backflow can lead to chronically wet areas around the obstructed area. Moisture can potentially build up, damaging walls, and can lead to mold growth.

Drains under your kitchen sink or toilet may become clogged because of tree roots that can cause wastewater to back up into them. This can cause very unpleasant smells around the area.

Tips to Avoid Tree Roots in your Sewer Line Pipes

The best way to stop these pesky intruders from causing any unnecessary sewer repairs is to kill the problem at its source. Here are tips you can implement to keep your pipe lines running at optimal performance.


  1. Practice Careful Landscaping

  • Find out where your underground sewer line is located – One way to deal with this problem is by doing adequate research on how close you should keep trees from your sewer lines so they do not interfere with your sewer system.You can call the professionals at Rescue Plumbing, INC and we can come out to perform a sewer camera inspection and pinpoint the exact sewer location.
  • Plant trees that have naturally less aggressive root systems – Trees with a naturally more aggressive root system, such as elms or maples can cause pipes to collapse if they are too close and under stress from tree roots.When planting trees or plants near sewer lines, be sure to choose those that have less invasive root systems, such as pines. It’s a good idea to speak with an arborist about the right type of tree for your location. You can find an arborist near you here.
  • Think about removing fast-growing trees on your property – If you have too many plants and trees near your home you may want to consider removing them. It’s a good idea to speak with an arborist about the right type of tree for your property and which ones you should plant near sewer lines. You can review our blog post here to learn more about the types of trees to plant near your sewer line. Blog title: Tree Roots in Sewer Line: Types of Trees with Aggressive Root Systems
  • Install a barrier separating your tree root system from your sewer lines – Tree barriers can be a great way to prevent tree roots from getting into your sewer lines. Barriers come in many different styles and largely depend on your unique situation. Concrete, metal, and wood barriers are a good option to consider.

  1. Sewer Line Repair – Fix Vulnerable Sewer Pipes

Sewer pipes age and corrode over time giving way for roots to infiltrate your sewer system. It is very important to replace old piping before it causes big and costly problems. In most homes, you will find 5 types of pipes.

  • Galvanized Steel – Prior to the 1960s, most contractors and plumbers built homes with galvanized steel. Later, industry professionals discovered that galvanized steel rusted and corroded relatively easily.
  • Copper – Typically lasts much longer since it does not corrode over time as galvanized steel-line pipes do.
  • PVC – Many homeowners replace galvanized steel or cast-iron pipes with PVC because it’s relatively inexpensive compared to galvanized steel or cast. PVC doesn’t rust or corrode as a metal pipe would and handles high-pressure very well.
  • ClayIn the city of Chicago Illinois, it is still plumbing code to install clay sewer pipes underground. Most of the sewers in Chicago are made of clay. At the moment, PVC pipes are not allowed underground in Chicago. Clay pipes have the advantage of longevity. There are clay pipes installed by the Roman empire still in existence today.
  • Cast Iron – In the City of Chicago Illinois, it is still plumbing code to install cast iron sewer pipes underground. Cast iron is harder and stronger than clay pipes, but will subsequentially corrode and rust away over time.

Replacing old sewer pipes is a sure way to avoid a plumbing disaster and avoiding future ramifications. Yearly inspections from a reputable and licensed plumbing company is recommended.

  1. Schedule Regular Inspections

Hiring a licensed plumber to perform regular inspections is a great way to avoid plumbing problems. Yearly inspections are recommended. Sewer Camera Surveying can determine if there are any tree root issues, and will also reveal other outlying concerns that need to be addressed.

If you do find root growth inside your sewer line, it is imperative to have a professional and licensed plumber like Rescue Plumbing come out immediately to avoid a future problem.

What to do If You Have Tree Roots in your Sewer Line Pipes

So what do you do if you have roots in your sewer line pipes? Well, if you wait too long to fix the problem then it may become a bigger and very expensive issue to fix.

You will want to have a professional team such as Rescue Plumbing Inc. to fight off any offending roots. To fix the plumbing problem, sometimes power drain cleaning can do the job with a power rodding machine or a hydro jetting machine.

Sometimes your plumber will have to cut the pipe accordingly and remove the roots with special tools. In many cases, digging is necessary to access the corroded pipe. After a thorough drain cleaning, our technicians perform a camera inspection to confirm all tree roots and debris are gone.

The drain is then repaired with a possible clean-out installed for future access. To make it easier to clean the sewer years down the line. The area is then backfilled and restored.

Avoid Major Plumbing Catastrophes with Rescue Plumbing

In the Chicagoland area, one of the oldest sewer systems in the United stated, a yearly plumbing inspection is essential for all residents. ​

This annual evaluation is a great way to make sure your plumbing system is up to date and running at optimal efficiency. To learn more about Rescue Plumbings’ yearly inspections, you can click the link here for more information.

In Conclusion: Tree Roots in Sewer Line Pipes Can Be Solved

Tree Root Removal can be a difficult and a time-consuming task that can cause any homeowner to experience a lot of unnecessary stress. Luckily for you, Rescue Plumbing offers professional plumbing services in the Chicagoland area to address any sewer line issues you are experiencing.

Anything plumbing we can rescue, we are available 24 hours a day to serve all your plumbing needs. Schedule your service call today for help with plumbing problems, including tree roots in sewer line issues.

For questions about your sewer, you can contact us at (773) 799-8848.

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