Michael Runk Blog

How to Remove Roots From Sewer Lines

March 15, 2016

tree roots

As you probably know, all the waste water generated in your home exits thought the main sewer line into your septic tank or the municipal sewer, depending on where you live. Unfortunately, sometimes this main sewer line becomes clogged, often due to invasive tree roots that grow inside the pipe. If this happens, you are in for some major plumbing issues and a potentially expensive repair. Here is some advice from our Maryland plumbers on what to do in this situation.

Signs of the Main Sewer Line Clog

First of all, let’s make sure that it’s the main sewer line that’s clogged and not just your toilet. The number one sign is that several or all plumbing fixtures in your home start having drainage problems. All of them drain slowly, and if you have several open at the same time, you may even see the water backing up. These are the first warning signs that you should take very seriously, as they can save you from an unpleasant mess. The next sign will be sewer backup—you don’t need us to explain what that involves!

Should I Worry About Tree Roots in My Pipes?

Tree roots in pipes are a common problem in older homes built before 1970. These homes often have clay or concrete sewer pipes instead of the plastic ones used today. Trees expand their roots to search for water, and if they find a leak from your old clay pipe, they can try to get inside. Eventually, invasive roots will grow inside the pipes, as well as cause the pipes to crack and collapse in some areas.

So if you live in an older home, tree roots in sewer pipes could be a real concern for you. If your home is a newer one, it was probably built with plastic pipes that are much more difficult to break apart. If everything was installed properly, you usually shouldn’t worry. However, if you start experiencing issues with drainage, it’s best to have your Maryland plumber come out and put a video camera in your pipes to see what the problem is.

Removing Roots From Pipes

If an inspection with a video camera finds roots in your main sewer line, there is special equipment that can be used to remove them. One of the most common machines we use is called a root cutter. It has blades, and when inserted into the pipe, it shreds all the roots inside. Another approach is to use a water-jetting machine that uses pressurized water instead of blades to remove the roots. Either way, keep in mind that the roots are removed only from the inside of the pipe and continue to exist outside of it. This means it’s only a matter of time until the roots find their way inside the pipe again.

Here is an example of how a root cutter works:

A More Permanent Solution

If there were roots in your sewer line, the pipe is probably damaged and needs replacement. One way to do it is to dig it out and put in a new PVC pipe that will act tougher against the roots. Another way, which is not always possible, is to lay a new pipe inside the old pipe, which makes for double the protection and less digging. But if the original pipe is in very bad shape, this may not be possible.

Give our Maryland plumbers a call, so that we can evaluate what will work best for your home. We can also recommend some products you can flush down the toilet to help keep the pipes clean and stop any root growth. Give us a call or contact us online today!

 


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