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Tree Roots In The Sewer Line. Want Some Advice?

Image of Jack Devetten the Professer of Plumbing talking about tree roots in the sewer line.

Hi, Jack, the Professor of Plumbing here. And I will be giving some great advice today on the effects of tree roots in your sewer line. But before we get into the root of todays topic. Let’s start off with a recent case study.

In this case study you will learn what not to do when dealing with tree roots in your sewer line. And why a reoccurring sewer clog should be left up to a professional, certified plumbing company. Here we go.

Our homeowner, Michael, had trusted the experts on social media and repeatedly tried to clear a persistent sewer clog using off-the-shelf drain cleaners. But to no avail. The clog kept returning, but each time it seemed worse than before. Eventually, he called in a certifed plumbing company to investigate.

But during the inspection, they discovered extensive root intrusion that had nearly sealed off the sewer line. Eventually the plumbing technician was able to clear the blockage and install a new pipe lining, restoring the sewer line’s functionality. Michael later admitted he should have called sooner. Because it would have saved him weeks of frustration and money spent on remedies that did not work. Don’t let this happen to you. Moving on.

Next we will talk about the relationship between the above ground tree canopy and the underground root system and how they both affect your sewer line. The above-ground tree canopy and the underground root system are closely connected, each affecting the other in growth and health. This is how they both impact your sewer line.

Above-Ground Tree Canopy

Image showing the effects of tree roots on a compromised underground sewer line.

The canopy, comprises of branches and leaves. It is the visible part of the tree that provides shade, beauty, and a home for wildlife. Canopy sizes generally reflect the extent of the root system underground. Which means that larger canopies usually indicate huge root networks.

Impact on Sewer Lines

As tree roots grow and expand, they naturally seek out water and nutrients. Which can lead them to sewer lines. Sewer lines carry water, organic matter, and warmth, creating an inviting environment for roots.

Small feeder roots can infiltrate sewer lines through holes in the line, joints, and cracks, gradually expanding and causing clogs or blockages.

Over time, larger roots can crush or displace sewer pipes. Leading to significant damage and potential sewage backups.

Prevention and Management

It is very important to be mindful of the type of trees that are planted near sewer lines. Because of their potential root system growth.

Regular sewer line inspections and maintenance can help detect early root infiltration. Therefore allowing for preventative measures before major damage occurs.

Root barriers and strategic planting can be effective in managing tree root growth around the sewer line.

By actually understanding the relationship between the tree canopy and its roots, homeowners can better prevent and manage the impact of roots on sewer lines.

Understanding Your Main Sewer Line

Water and power, flow in and out of your home, but the sewer system is unique. Unlike pressurized water lines, sewer lines rely on gravity. These pipes slope downward to allow drainage, which then connects to the municipal sewer system.

Where Your Sewer Line Meets The City Sewer System

Sewer lines are buried deep, ensuring smooth path to the treatment plant. But your home’s main sewer line may be too close to a tree root before it merges with the city sewer system. Tree roots can grow and crush the pipes carrying sewage from your house.

City vs. Private Property Sewer Systems

While sewer lines on city property are their responsibility, your main sewer line is your responsibility. Precautions are taken during construction to avoid potential damage. And if you own an older home, it’s wise to have annual inspections. Another good idea is to get your heating, plumbing, and electrical systems checked by specialists.

Sewer Line Backflow Preventers

Your sewer line should have backflow preventers. These are valves that stop the sewage from flowing backward because of pressure changes in the city lines. Tree roots can damage these components, and lead to sewer line problems.

Tree Root Interference with Your Sewer Line

Tree roots don’t damage pipes overnight, but over time they can invade your sewer system and cause serious issues. Understanding the stages of tree root interference will help you identify the problem early.

Stage 1

If you notice your main line clogging frequently, tree roots might be the culprit. This is the early stage, but it can escalate quickly if left unchecked.

Stage 2

As the interference progresses, you’ll hear gurgling sounds from the toilet and smell unpleasant odors when you flush. Pressure changes lead to backups and frequent clogs, and tree roots start invading pipe cracks, marking the onset of the third stage.

Stage 3

At this stage, the drainage in your sewer is fully compromised. Requiring expensive line replacement. The tree roots have destroyed your sewer line to the point that sewage leaks into your yard, and backups will continue until you replace the line.

Early Detection of Roots in the Sewer Line

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to catch tree root interference in it’s early stages. What begins as small roots invading a crack can turn into a full blockage or broken sewer line if left unchecked. Also, early detection will allow for less invasive and expensive interventions. Consequently protecting your plumbing and sewer system.

Preventive Measures

Regular sewer camera inspections by a professional plumber can identify root intrusions early. Periodic sewer cleaning will help remove blockages and root build-ups before they become severe. Also, by installing physical or chemical root barriers can prevent roots from growing into vulnerable areas. Consider using more durable materials like PVC or HDPE pipes, which are not as vulnerable to root penetration.

Professional Tree Root Removal Services

Pipe Snaking

In the early stages of root intrusion, a plumber can use a mechanical snake to cut through the roots and clear the blockage.

Hydro Jetting

High-pressure water can blast through and remove roots, effectively clearing the sewer line.

Trenchless Pipe Repair

For more advanced stages of root damage, trenchless methods like pipe relining or bursting can repair or replace pipes without major excavation.


Trees add beauty to you yard, but their roots can cause hidden problems. By being proactive and vigilant is the best approach to dealing with a tree root invasion. But with early detection with sewer camera inspections, you can avoid sewer line damage and keep the sewer lines and plumbing systems functioning smoothly.

Immediately get to the root of your sewer line clog and backup frustrations! Call Ace Plumbing in Calgary Today!

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