Tree Roots in Sewer Line

Tree Roots in Sewer Line damage demystified 

Tree roots in sewer line damage can be a nuisance. Tree roots often cause severe damage to sewer and waste-water pipes buried underground – resulting in calling Toronto emergency plumbing services.

As roots continue to grow, they expand and exert a large amount of pressure at the crack or joint where they entered the pipe. The force exerted by the root growth will break the pipe and may result in total collapse of the pipe. Pipes that are structurally damaged by severe root intrusion require complete replacement.The flow of warm water inside sewer pipes causes vapour to escape to the cooler soil surrounding the pipe. Tree roots grow toward the vapour to the point of its source. The source of the vapour is usually a crack in the pipes or a loose joint. Once the tree roots reach the crack or loose joint, they will grow through the opening to reach the moisture inside. Once inside the pipe, the roots continue to grow, and if undisturbed, they will eventually completely fill the pipe with a hair-like root mass. This root mass acts as a “net” as it catches fat, oil and grease, tissue paper, and other debris emptied down the drains. because they love it there. Waste pipes contain water and nutrients – vital things trees need for growth. Aside from blockages and sewer backups caused by fats, oils, grease, and grit, tree roots growing inside sewer pipes are one of the most expensive sewer maintenance items that homeowners incur.

In certain parts of Toronto, you may still have pipe-work made from clay joining your property to the street’s sewer main. This type of pipe is particularly susceptible to root invasion. Read this article on how to be preventative and prevent tree roots in sewer lines to begin with. 

Drains that are slow to empty are a sign that the system is having problems caused by root build-up. The first signs of a slow-flowing drainage system can be heard from gurgling noises from a toilet, shower, sink or floor drain. A complete blockage will occur if no actions are taken to remove the roots and the resulting build up of waste materials.

Each  property owner is responsible for maintaining their “sewer lateral”, the connection between the sewer pipes in the building to the main sewer pipe, which is usually in the street. Because the pipes are buried and out of sight, property owners usually don’t have any clues about problems in their laterals until it is too late.

Property owners should know the location of their sewer lateral, and avoid planting some types of trees and hedges near the route it takes. Trees and hedges should be located more than ten feet from sewer pipes to minimize root intrusion. Also, choose slow-growing species with root systems that aren’t too aggressive, and replace them before they get too big for the location they are planted in. Speak to someone at your local Toronto garden centre for advice on this subject.

Once roots are in your lateral they will probably cause a blockage. The best way to prevent this is to schedule regular cleaning of your sewer lateral. The common methods of removing roots from waste pipes involve the use of root saws and high-pressure flushers. Treatments like RootX also help, although the drains will need treating every year. Sometimes root incursions have to be fixed by digging up and replacing pipework.

It is very important to keep your sewer lateral structurally sound. Any cracks or loose connections in the pipework can allow roots a way inside. You may wish to hire an experienced local Toronto plumber like Hoerner Heating & Plumbing to send a special video camera into your sewer lateral to check the inside and see if any repairs are needed.