Categories: Sewer

Can You do Anything to Prevent Roots from Infiltrating Your Pipes?

Tree roots are naturally drawn to water and nutrients in the soil. In fact, they actively seek out those things. And a gravity flow sanitary sewer pipe is a great source of both. Every time you flush the toilet, wash something down the drain, take a shower, or run a sink, you are introducing water and/or solids into your sanitary sewer pipes. And oftentimes, that water contains the nutrients that tree roots are seeking.

By their nature, gravity flow sanitary sewer pipes are only intermittently full of water. The most common place a tree root will infiltrate your sanitary sewer pipeline is at each pipe joint. Tree roots can easily infiltrate at the pipe joints because the line is not under any internal pressure. All pipelines that work by gravity flow are subject to root infiltration.

Why are Tree Roots a Problem?

The most common problem caused by tree roots is that they interfere with the flow of water and solids through the pipe. Once tree roots begin to infiltrate at the pipe joints, they will only multiply from there. Once they multiply, they cause more problems. They can even grow so thick that they will completely stop the flow of solids and/or water through the pipe.

When this happens, you will notice that your sinks, showers, and tubs begin to drain more slowly. In severe cases, the drain will stop altogether. That is a big sign that something is blocking your sanitary sewer pipe.

When the drains stop altogether, water and/or solids will back up into your home. Thus, creating a huge and odorous mess. If your line has reached that point, it is time to call in a professionally licensed plumber.

There are Ways in Which You Can Prevent Roots from Entering Your Pipe

The best way to prevent root infiltration is to stop the roots before they ever reach the pipeline. This means you will need to create a barrier between the tree and the pipeline. A barrier can be chemical, plywood, fabric, or even fiberglass.

The most common chemical used to prevent root infiltration is Copper Sulfate. Copper Sulfate is naturally blue in color. If you have ever been to an amusement park and have seen blue water around, it is most likely that the park has put Copper Sulfate in the water. Copper Sulfate works to stop roots because it contains copper. The copper will run up the root for a short distance killing just that portion of the root. It will not kill the tree, shrub, or any other plant that has a tap root system.

Copper Sulfate can be obtained in powder form, so it can be mixed into the soil surrounding the sewer pipe. This will prevent roots from growing around the sanitary sewer pipe.

If you choose to go with a physical barrier such as plywood, fabric, or corrugated fiberglass, you should be aware of how they work. A physical barrier must be installed on all sides of the pipeline. That means below, on the sides, and on top of the pipe. And they must be at least three to five feet deep.


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