How To Prevent Root Damage To Your Sewer Line

Common Plumbing Problems, How-To,

When you think about plumbing, you usually find yourself concerned with the pipes that are in a building’s walls. These pipes come from a water supply line and then provide you with water inside your home. When you flush the toilet or have waste go down your sink, then these liquids enter the sewer system – but they first need to go through the sewer line. A blockage in your sewer line can cause backups to happen, as well as flooding in your home.

There are several factors that can cause a blockage in the sewer line – and one of these causes includes tree roots that grow into the pipes. We take a closer look at how this happens and what you can do to prevent root damage to a sewer line.

How Tree Roots Damages A Sewer Line

A typical tree root can go as deep as 20 feet and sometimes even longer, depending on the age of the tree, the conditions of the soil, and the type of tree. Many people have trees on their properties, and the position of a tree may be close to where a sewer line runs.

Sometimes, the roots of the tree can wrap around the pipe that makes up the sewer line. When there are small leaks in the pipe, the roots can also enter the line and start to grow inside. The roots of trees are attracted to water and nutrients, which is why they may grow toward the sewer line. This especially happens with leaks, as the soil around the sewer line will be moist.

If the roots enter your sewer line, they can cause a blockage in the pipes. The blockage may cause a slower drain at first, but when they create a complete clog, you may notice flooding in your home and water pushing back up into your toilet bowl when you flush. It is important to note that the waste you flush down the toilet will cause a further progression of the clogging, as pieces can get stuck onto the roots that have started to grow in the pipe.

Preventing Root Damage To Your Sewer Line

Prevention is definitely something to keep in mind if you have trees in your yard. While some prevention strategies might be costly, it could save you from very expensive problems in the future. There are numerous ways in which you can prevent roots from causing damage to your sewer line. We will discuss a few effective strategies to consider.

Use The Right Pipes For Your Sewer Line

Some types of pipes are more susceptible to intrusion from tree roots than others. Clay, cement, cast iron, and Orangeburg are common examples of materials in sewer lines that could increase the risk of these problems.

It is a good idea to turn to PVC as a material choice when you set up sewer lines. If your sewer lines currently use cement, clay, or other materials that are susceptible to damage from tree roots, you can consider having these pipes replaced with a strong PVC option. You can even consider checking all your pipes during a bathroom remodel in Detroit – as this can help you identity pipes that may benefit from a replacement.

Implementation Of A Barrier

Another way to prevent root damage to a sewer line is to use a barrier system. There are different types of barriers that can be used. In addition to providing protection to your sewer line, the use of a barrier can also help to protect other parts of your property, such as paving that uses cement, as well as the foundation of your home.

The barrier will use a material that is impenetrable. This essentially helps to ensure the tree’s roots do not grow past the barrier – which is where your sewer line will lie when you use this particular preventative strategy.

Re-Route Your Sewer Line

If you do not want to remove a tree and find that your options in the specific location are limited, then re-routing of the sewer line is also an option you can consider. One thing to note, however, is that it takes a while for the re-routing to be done and the process can also be costly.

Re-routing involves moving the location of your water supply and sewer lines. There are different strategies that can be used, but the goal is to get your pipes to run further away from areas where trees grow on your property. You should hire professional plumbers in Detroit if this is an option that you want to consider.

Be Considerate When Planting Trees

If you are planning to plant a few trees and want to prevent root damage in your sewer line, then carefully consider the types of trees that you will plan. Some trees do not grow roots as deep as others – these can be a great way to prevent this type of damage.

Some of the trees you should ideally avoid planting if root damage is a concern:

  • Beech trees
  • Mulberry trees
  • Birch trees
  • Aspen trees
  • Maple trees
  • Sycamore trees
  • Eucalyptus trees

Magnolia, fan palms and wafer ash trees tend to be less invasive in the soil where you plant them. These can be good for adding trees that help to add shade to your property without causing problems with the sewer line that runs underneath the ground. If you prefer trees that grow fruits while also adding shade to the property, consider options like the Chinese Pistache or Pawpaw trees. Some people may also turn to miniature fruit trees, as these can still grow tall in some cases, but the roots that grow beneath the soil are not as invasive as with some other types of trees that you can opt for.


A sewer line inspection can help to determine if roots have grown into or around your sewer pipes. At WaterWork Plumbing, we have experts who are highly experienced in providing a thorough inspection and can assist with sewer line repair. We can also assess your current situation, even if no sewer line damage has been dealt with yet, and work on a prevention strategy to avoid damage in the future. Get in touch with us to learn more about how we can help you.