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Tree Roots FAQ


Q: What is the most common cause of sewer line damage or clogs?

A: Tree roots, by far. These sinister, creeping tendrils will strangle your vulnerable pipes until they’re so squeezed and overgrown that nothing can flow through.

Q: What about tree roots makes them such pipe pulverizers?

A: Because they’re opportunists! Tree roots are most likely to penetrate sewer lines that were already damaged and rest in the top 2 feet of soil. Try to avoid planting large trees that grow quickly anywhere near your sewer lines. Also try to keep the root systems of existing tree in check through careful pruning and landscaping.

Q: What types of trees are my sewer lines’ biggest enemies?

A: There are no “safe” trees when it comes to protecting your sewer lines. But be sure to steer clear of the following at all costs: ash, sweetgum, poplar, cottonwood, lowland oak, locust, willow, basswood, tuliptree, sycamore, box elder and many maple varieties such as sugar, red, Norway and silver.

Q: How can I protect my sewer lines through landscaping efforts?

A: Well, first off, water seeking trees like the ones listed above should be replaced every 8-10 years before they can grow into pipes and sewer lines. In addition, plant only small, slow growing trees near sewer lines. When replacing old sewer lines or installing brand new ones, do whatever you can to ensure root infiltration won’t be a problem down the road.

Q: What if it’s too late and I’m already dealing with root intrusion? Is there anything I can do to minimize the damage?

A: Don’t panic! There are still a couple of things you can do to take some stress off your sewer lines. First, you could try using chemical root killers that slowly release chemicals to stop root growth. You can also try naturally compacted layers of soil to make it harder for roots to penetrate. This involves laying down chemical layers of sulfur, zinc, borate, sodium, salt or herbicides. We’ve also seen some success with folks creating underground air pockets using large stones which encourages roots to grow in that direction rather than toward your pipes. But really the best way to save your root tangled pipes is to contact a drain or sewer cleaning specialist ASAP!

Tree roots ‘stumping’ your pipe system? Get our experts on the job today!

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