When Tree Roots Keep Growing Into Your Sewer Line

When tree roots grow into your main sewer line, slowing down the flow of waste and leading to backups, the normal response is to have the roots removed and hire sewer repair services to replace the damaged section of pipe. But what do you do if the roots come back? It gets frustrating having to call the sewer repair company every year or two because tree roots just keep growing into the line, again and again.

Rather than continue to have your sewer line cleared again and again, you need to start exploring more permanent solutions. Here are three to consider.

Remove the Trees

If you know what tree is most likely to blame for the problem, then having it removed is likely the best solution. You can have the tree removed at the same time that the sewer repair company clears your sewer line or replaces the damaged section of pipe -- so essentially, you'll be starting over with a root-free zone.

Keep in mind that when you have the tree removed, you'll need to pay to have the roots excavated. This is because in some species of trees, the roots can continue to grow for a little while after the above-ground portion of the tree has been knocked down. It will be a big project, but it's certainly simpler than having to continually repair your sewer pipe year after year. Expect to pay up to $1500 for tree removal in most cases.

Of course, removing the tree may not be an option if the tree belongs to your neighbor or if you have many trees and are not sure which one's roots are to blame. In that case, explore the other options on this page (talking with your neighbors as needed).

Use Chemical Root Killers

If you're on a tight budget, this is a good solution to try before you resort to more drastic measures. You can purchase a chemical root killing solution at most home improvement stores. Follow the instructions, and pour the specified amount down your drains every week or two. The chemicals will help keep the roots from growing, so even if there are currently some roots in your pipes, they should keep them from getting any larger.

It's most effective to begin using chemical root killers just after your sewer pipe has been cleared. This way, you can halt the roots' growth while they're still small. Note that some varieties of trees are resistant to these chemicals, so there are cases in which this strategy is not effective.

Have a Sewer Pipe Liner Installed

Another approach is to have your sewer repair company install a sewer pipe liner. This liner will act as an extra tough barrier against the roots. Typically, sewer pipe liners are made from resin. The tube will be pulled into the sewer pipe and then inflated so that its sides sit flush against the inside of the pipe.

The benefit to having a sewer pipe liner installed is that, unlike replacing the pipe, it does not usually require excavation of the pipe. Your sewer repair expert can typically feed the liner in from further down the line. However, if the roots have grown back badly since the last time your sewer repair company was out, they may still have to excavate and remove the roots before they can install the liner. 

Some homeowners worry that the liner will reduce the capacity of their sewer line because it takes up space inside of it. But while the liner does take up some space, it's not usually enough to impede flow -- and having the liner present is most definitely better than having tree roots growing into the sewer pipe.