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How to Avoid Tree Roots in Your Sewer Line

Roots in a Sewer Line

If you have clogged drains or a sewage backup in multiple places, one possible cause is intruding tree roots. Attracted to water and nutrient sources, roots will grow towards a sewer line and eventually around and into it. Roots can put enough pressure on soil to collapse sewer pipe. Whether a pipe is leaking or just moist, tree roots can find it and get inside the smallest pinhole or crack, then grow wildly until the pipe is completely blocked. But roots in a sewer line can be prevented, and we’ll explain how.

Prevention is recommended. The impacts of tree root intrusion are progressive. As solid waste drains, it gets caught by roots and further exacerbates blockages. Oftentimes, you’ll start to notice slow drains, but eventually, this will turn into sewage backups, flooding, and burst pipes.

To avoid or reduce the risk of having tree roots in a sewer line:

Install PVC Pipes

If it has no splits or cracks, a plastic pipe is more resistant to tree roots. All joints and connections must be sealed during installation. To avoid roots in a sewer line, a contractor must glue sections of pipe together, using enough to seal any gaps. If not, a tree’s root system may find its way in, perhaps not until several years later. Durable steel pipe is also resistant to tree root intrusion.

Pipes that are most susceptible to tree roots include:

• Cast Iron
• Clay
• Cement
• Orangeburg

These pipes should be replaced entirely via pipe bursting or trenching, which can be effective and economical in the long term.

Plant Trees with Limited Root Growth

If you want to plant trees near a sewer pipe, choose those that have smaller roots. Landscape with slower-growing trees, small trees, and shrubs rather than trees with more invasive roots, such as sycamore, willow, oak, maple, elm, aspen, or birch trees. Beech, eucalyptus, mulberry, and poplar trees also have expansive root systems.

There are many species that pose little or no threat to underground pipe. To protect your sewer line, plant Mediterranean fan palms, wafer ash, sabal palmetto, or magnolia trees. Some types of cypress and cedar trees are relatively safe, as are various fruit trees.

Create a Barrier

Installing an impenetrable barrier can stop tree roots from reaching sewer lines. It can guide them to grow towards areas where there aren’t any pipes. Various types of tree root barriers are sold by landscaping companies. They are available as panels or sheets depending on the product. These barriers can protect landscaping, concrete, foundations, driveways, and buildings as well.

Use Chemicals

Growth inhibiting chemicals can prevent root growth. Some effective chemicals include potassium hydroxide, copper sulfate, and others. Spreading these near the pipeline can stop the tree roots from growing towards it. These don’t necessarily poison the trees, so you can preserve them if you’d prefer not to remove the trees or cause them harm.


Although expensive and time consuming, moving water and waste lines farther away from trees can avoid dealing with root intrusion issues.

Reline Existing Pipes

Composite resins are now used to reline older pipe. They can often be installed without digging or trenching. The liner is pulled into place through an access point, positioned at a damaged section of pipe, and cured to create a seamless path. Many pipe lining resins are designed to last 50 years or more, so you won’t have to replace the pipe anytime soon.

Contact Nexgen for Professional Removal or Prevention

We take various measures to prevent problems or deal with roots in a sewer line. Our technicians are trained in the latest trenchless pipe repair methods. First, we inspect for pipe damage using video cameras attached to long, flexible cables, so tree roots and potential damage can be clearly seen. Drain snakes with mechanical rotating blades or high-pressure jets of water can be used to break through tree roots in pipe. To ensure the roots are gone, the line will be inspected with a camera once again.

Whether you need tree root removal and/or re-piping service, contact Nexgen, the #1 residential plumber in Southern California, by calling 805-301-6788 today.