How to Avoid Tree Roots in Sewer Lines Without Killing the Tree

Ellie Brooks

Written By Ryan Merchant

Published 01/12/23
How to Avoid Tree Roots in Sewer Lines Without Killing the Tree

Having a sewer or plumbing line blocked by tree roots can be a frustrating and potentially expensive problem. You can avoid the problem by clearing your property of problem trees, but few of us want to sacrifice the shade and aesthetics that trees provide. Fortunately, there are a few ways to prevent tree roots from obstructing underground pipes without harming the tree in the process. 

In this article, the Liberty Home Guard team will share some of our best tips for avoiding tree roots in sewer line segments. We’ll discuss how to use physical barriers, chemical barriers, and other techniques to keep your pipes free from tree roots. We’ll also cover the potential consequences of ignoring tree root intrusion.

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Tree Roots Growing in Pipes: What Are the Dangers?

Tree roots in pipes and other underground components of plumbing and sewer infrastructure pose a major problem for homeowners. Thin, new roots can creep into superfine gaps in underground lines, and they cause a number of problems as they grow steadily over time. The roots are insidious. You are unlikely to realize there’s a problem until the roots are reasonably large, and it then becomes an expensive problem to fix. Here are some potential consequences of unchecked tree roots in your plumbing

Blockages. The most obvious result of tree roots in your plumbing lines is blockages and obstructions. Water and sewage cease to flow freely, resulting in overflows, backups, and flooding. You might see pooling sewage in your lawn, or symptoms may present inside with your toilets and drains. 

Damage. Growing plants have remarkable strength. Roots can widen hairline cracks and even warp or sever underground lines. Your only recourse is to hire a professional service to dig up your lawn and replace the affected pipes, and that’s not cheap. 

Corrosion. Roots can facilitate the corrosion of metal pipes. This shortens the lifespan of the pipes and can contribute to discoloration in your water.  

Flooding. Obstructions caused by tree roots can directly contribute to flooding inside and outside your home. Backups can cause flooding in your bathrooms and kitchen. You may also encounter substantial flooding in your yard, destroying your grass and landscaping.  

Pollution. Damage from tree roots can cause sewage and other pollutants to seep out of pipes, leading to environmental contamination. Depending on the extent of the problem, cleanup can be quite costly.

If you encounter any of these problems, removing roots from drain pipes and other plumbing lines on your property is likely your only recourse. 

Tree Roots in Sewer Line Removal Cost

The average cost to remove tree roots that have grown into the sewer lines on your property can vary greatly depending on the severity of the issue. Generally, tree roots can be removed using a professional plumbing service or a rooter machine, which is a specialized machine that uses a cutting head to cut through the tree roots and remove them from the underground pipes. Professionals may charge anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars. It all depends on the size and complexity of the problem. It’s also important to consider the cost of replacing any damaged pipes or sewer lines, as this can quickly inflate the overall cost. Bear in mind that homeowner’s insurance is unlikely to cover this expense.

How to Keep Roots at Bay and Save Your Plumbing

It’s costly to remove roots from pipes, but you might be able to spare your wallet by taking measures to avoid the problem before it gets out of hand. Installing barriers and engaging in conscientious landscaping can keep you from removing or killing roots in septic tank baffles, drain pipes, water mains, and other critical plumbing lines. Let’s take a look.

1. Use root barriers. 

Installing root barriers can be a great way to keep roots away from your sewer lines. These barriers are often large sheets or slabs of metal, plastic, or concrete. Install them around the perimeter of the tree’s root zone. 

You may want to consider having an arborist assess the root zone after several years. The tree’s roots can eventually grow under the barrier. 

2. Plant trees far from sewer lines.

When planting a new tree, make sure you plant it far enough away from sewer lines so that the roots won’t be able to reach them. You can reach out to your home’s building contractor or your town for information on where the sewer lines lay.

3. Prune nearby trees.

Pruning trees can stunt their growth and help keep their roots from growing too close to underground pipes. Trim back the canopy of the tree to reduce the amount of shade cast onto the soil. This can limit the growth of the roots.

4. Use root inhibitors.

Root inhibitors are chemicals that are applied to the soil around the tree’s roots. These chemicals can stop the roots from growing and delay them from creeping toward sewer lines. 

5. Consult a surveyor.

When in doubt, reach out to an arborist or land surveyor to get a better idea of where your tree roots are and which plumbing lines are at risk. With information at hand, you can sever problem roots, saving your tree and pipes alike.

Keeping Your Plumbing System in Top Condition

Healthy trees aren’t the only threats to your home’s plumbing system. Stoppages, fixture malfunctions, and leakages from wear and tear are all possibilities even inevitabilities. Protect yourself financially with home warranty coverage. Liberty Home Guard has a national network of highly trained plumbers and other home service professionals. We can have an expert resolve your problem at a fraction of what it would cost for you to hire someone on your own.

Use our website for a free quote. You can also call (866)-432-1283 to talk with someone on our team. 



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