Roots in Sewer Pipes

roots growing in pipes

Roots in your yard crave water and will go wherever they can find it, even to your underground sewer piping. Learn about the potential risks and treatment that are involved with different sewer pipes….

Sewer Line Problems

You have a sewer line running from your house to the city main sewer line out by the street. Tree roots in your front or back yard could potentially crack and destroy your sewer line if you have the wrong type of piping. The three main types of piping that are not safe from this problem are Orangeburg (paper), Terracotta (clay), and cast iron.

Unfortunately, all of these are locally abundant, with cast iron being the most abundant in the Columbia area. PVC is the best type of piping to have for a sewer line because the life expectancy is so high and when installed CORRECTLY there is almost no risk of having roots come into your line. Our most common sewer line issue is caused by tree roots clogging and backing up the sewer line that runs from the house. This can make your toilets, or even worse bathtubs, back up with sewage. When city sewage touches flooring, the whole floor has to be pulled up and replaced..

When we are called out due to a sewer line backup we always check to see if there is a tree or any potential roots that could cause the sewer line to collapse. We will then snake the line to clear the clog and see if there are any roots on the snake. If we see that roots could be the cause, we then recommend that you let us run our camera line to diagnose the problem and find its exact location. From there you have two options, one is that you can keep paying for the plumber to snake the sewer line repeatedly and it adds up quickly or the second option is that the plumber removes the problem areas of the sewer line which involves digging up the problem area, typically 3-5 feet deep in your yard and replacing that section of the sewer line. The latter solution may initially seem more expensive but over time saves you money and solves the problem for good.

sewer cleaning

Preventative Measures

There are a few things that you can do to prevent HUGE disasters. One is to have your sewer line checked, even when you don’t have a problem. Running a camera line is a lot less expensive than replacing a sewer line and it is worth it for peace of mind and knowing what you’re up against.

Another thing that can be done is to install an emergency clean out. A lot of newer homes have it (due to a change in plumbing code) and it helps to have your lines snaked for less money when you have a back up due to the plumber not having to pull out one of your toilets or drains. Remember, you must have this PVC clean out adapter visible and you should not plant any trees around it in case of an emergency. You can have an adapter put on your clean out so that when there is a back up the top will pop off and the suction will suck the sewer out of the clean out, saving your home from costly and disgusting city sewage.

The last thing we would recommend is a backwater valve which uses a device with a flap on it to just allow your sewer out and not allow city sewer to back up into your house. It is almost like a backflow device for your sprinkler/irrigation system.

Is It Your or The City’s Responsibility?

In certain cases, sewage overflow is not the responsibility of the homeowner and the city/county is liable to fix the plumbing problem. It is worth having us come out and look to determine whose responsibility it actually is. The city sometimes uses Terracotta clay pipes that are out of date and they will deteriorate very easily so the stoppage is not always your fault. You can count on Kay Plumbing to correctly locate the stoppage, determine who is responsible based on its location and fix the plumbing issue for you so you don’t have to 🙂


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