Why Winter Means Watching Out for Roots in Your Sewer Lines

Winter seems like a time of dormancy for trees but in fact, that’s an illusion. Winter is a big growing season for your trees but that growth is focused on their roots, not their branches and leaves. 

That can be bad news for your sewer lines. Winter growth plus the general lower-than-normal levels of water and nutrients can mean that your trees’ roots are going to be attracted to your sewer lines.

Why Would Roots Be Attracted to Sewer Lines? 

Your trees sense that there are both water and nutrients in those pipes. They will send out long, thin feeder roots to acquire those nutrients. To a tree, the contents of your sewer lines look like a real feast!

When they find your sewer lines, they’ll do their best to find a crack or joint they can penetrate. Once they send a feeder root into your sewer line, the nutrients there generate some very fast growth. Those feeder roots quickly grow into a dense clump that blocks the flow of water and waste. You may begin to notice clogged drains, gurgling noises coming from your toilet when it’s flushed or foul smells. Drains may back up enough that you get floods in the house. 

Many of the sewage lines in Albuquerque are made from either clay or cast iron. Both are highly susceptible to root invasion especially at joints that tend to be somewhat loose. If the root invasion becomes severe enough, it can collapse the pipe. At that point, the only solution is to replace that section of pipe. 

But don’t feel safe because you have concrete or PVC sewer pipe. Persistent trees can pry their way into any of them. 

Repairing Choked Lines

Our technicians at Rocketman Plumbing have the tools, knowledge and experience to perform sewer line repair in Albuquerque. The first step is to find out if a root invasion is the cause of your plumbing problems. This is most quickly accomplished with a video inspection. If you’ve got roots in your lines, we’ll be able to see them. As an additional benefit, we’ll know exactly where the blockage is and if the pipe has collapsed yet.

Once we know where the roots are, we can send a cutter into the line to chop the roots into small pieces. We then kill the root structure with an herbicide that can prevent growth for as long as three years. If the pipe needs to be repaired, we’ll take care of that next. 

Tips to Avoid Root Damage to Sewer Lines

Know where your sewer lines are. If you have a cleanout cap on your property, this generally indicates the path your sewer lines take as they leave your home and connect to community sewage systems. Avoid planting trees anywhere near to this path. 

These trees are particularly risky to plant within ten feet of a sewer line:

  • Norway Maple
  • Sweetgum 
  • Cottonwood 
  • Aspen 
  • Sycamore

Here are some trees that grow more slowly and have smaller root balls so are less likely to invade your sewer lines (or they will take a lot longer):

  • Amur maple
  • Serviceberry 
  • Gingko 
  • Winter king hawthorn 
  • Crabapple 

It’s still smart to plant these trees ten or more feet away from the sewer line. 

Our next tip is to call us as soon as you notice poor drainage. If the cause of your problem is root blockage, addressing it quickly can prevent broken pipes as well as water damage in your home. And no one likes to live with stinky plumbing. 

You may need to follow up by having the roots mechanically cut back from your sewer lines. In severe cases, the tree(s) may need to be moved or eliminated to keep you from needing an annual root-blasting service of your sewer line. 

Inspections and Repairs for Your Sewer Lines

If your sewer line has never been inspected and you have trees on or near your property, we can perform an inspection. We’ll let you know if you need to clean out roots before they can block the line. Remember, the roots of some trees can reach out two-to-five times the width of a tree’s canopy. 

The plus of scheduling an inspection before you have a severe problem is that eliminating a minor blockage is far less expensive than repairing the line once it’s fully blocked or the pipe is broken. We specialize in fast responses to calls for problems like these. If your drains aren’t working, a home can quickly become uninhabitable. 

We provide fast, reliable sewer line services for residences, property managers, realtors and commercial properties. In Albuquerque, you can reach us at 505-243-1227.