Rooting Out the #1 Cause of Sewer Clogs

Featured Author: Michael Moore

Tree Roots Tree roots are the leading cause of sewer clogs

Overflows, and pipe damage in central Contra Costa County – and the entire nation. Roots are particularly aggressive in looking for sewer water during a drought because it is often the only water in the ground. They not only cause sewage to back up into homes, businesses, or the street, they destroy sewer pipes.

How Roots Cause Damage

Microscopic cracks or openings in pipe joints enable hair-thin roots to burrow their way in, then thrive on the moisture and nutrients inside the pipe. It doesn’t take long for fast-growing roots to spread out and begin snagging materials like grease, condoms, “flushable” wipes, diapers, and other items that go down toilets and drains.  Eventually the pipe will become completely blocked, and can even break apart as the roots and blockage continue to grow. The wastewater will back up inside the pipe and overflow through the nearest outlet “upstream” of the blockage – a manhole, an Overflow Protection Device, or a house drain.

How to Prevent Root Problems on Your Property

  1. Determine where your sewer pipes are on your property. Companies that do this can be found by searching the Internet or phone book for “Pipe & Leak Locating Services.”
  2. Avoid planting trees or shrubs above or near the sewer pipes, or install root barriers when planting.
  3. Maintain your house side sewer and lateral (the point of connection to the public sewer main). These are the property owner’s responsibility. Schedule regular cleanings of your sewer pipes by a professional plumbing service at least every other year.
  4. If you have continuing root problems, consider removing the offending tree or shrub. We recommend that you consult with an arborist and hire a licensed professional tree removal service.
  5. Ensure an Overflow Protection Device is installed on your sewer pipe’s cleanout