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How Trees Break Your Sewer Lines

It’s a battle that has been silently waged for years, often unnoticed until the consequences bubble to the surface. Yes, we’re talking about the intriguing and sometimes destructive relationship between tree roots and sewer lines.

Have you ever wondered if trees can really break sewer lines? Or perhaps you’re curious about the mechanics behind how tree roots can disrupt the intricate network of sewer pipes that keep our homes running smoothly. 

According to recent statistics, a significant percentage of sewer line blockages are attributed to invasive tree roots. In fact, a study conducted by the National Association of Plumbing Companies revealed that tree root intrusion was responsible for over 50% of all sewer line blockages in urban areas.

In this blog, Harrisonburg plumbers will help you understand how tree roots can damage your sewer line, the early signs of tree roots in the sewer line, and how to clear tree roots from your sewer line. Moreover, guide you through the methods professionals employ to clear tree root obstructions, from traditional snaking and hydro jetting to cutting-edge trenchless technologies. 

Also, we’ll share expert advice on proactive measures you can take to mitigate tree root intrusion and keep your sewer system flowing freely.

Do Trees Really Break Sewer Lines?

Yes, trees can indeed break sewer lines. Tree roots are naturally drawn to sources of water and nutrients, and if a sewer line is nearby, the roots can infiltrate and damage the pipes over time. While tree roots themselves might not have the strength to break sturdy sewer pipes physically, their growth and presence can cause significant issues.

As tree roots grow, they exert pressure on the surrounding soil and objects, including sewer pipes. This pressure can lead to cracks, fractures, and even collapse of the pipes. In addition, the fine, hair-like root tips can infiltrate tiny openings or existing cracks in the pipes, eventually causing blockages and restrictions in the flow of wastewater. As these roots continue to grow and expand, they can further exacerbate the damage and lead to more serious problems.

Which Are The Worst Trees For Sewer Line Damage?

Elms, maples, and sycamores are the worst trees for sewer line damage. These tree species are notorious for their ability to damage pipes and cause clogs. They also tend to grow very quickly in urban environments, making it difficult to predict when they will be ready to be removed.

Apart from them, here is a list of tree species that are known for having aggressive and invasive root systems, making them more likely to cause sewer damage:

  • Willow Trees (Salix spp.)
  • Poplar Trees (Populus spp.)
  • Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)
  • American Elm (Ulmus americana)
  • Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)
  • Boxelder (Acer negundo)
  • Aspen Trees (Populus tremuloides)
  • American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)
  • Norway Maple (Acer platanoides)
  • Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)

How Tree Roots Affect Your Sewer Line?

Tree roots are one of the most common culprits for sewer line damage.

They can wrap around the pipes and cause them to crack or grow into the pipe itself and cause a blockage.

Here are seven ways that tree roots affect your sewer line:

Tree Roots Can Cause Sewer Line Blockages

Sewer lines are built to handle the wastewater from your home or business, but if the roots of nearby trees get inside, they can quickly cause blockages in your pipes that prevent water from flowing properly. This can lead to problems like backups and overflows—and not just in your yard!

Tree Roots Can Damage Your Sewer Pipes

The same thing goes for old pipes—if tree roots find their way inside your sewer lines and start growing there, they could potentially damage those pipes over time. That could lead to leaks or cracks that allow sewage to leak out onto the ground around your home or business, which is something nobody wants!

Tree Roots May Be Responsible For Odors Coming From Your Toilet Or Sink Drain

Tree roots give off a bad odor when they enter your sewer system because they contain bacteria that feed on decaying organic matter and produce methane gas as a by-product. The smell will increase as more roots grow deeper into your pipes, which means that if you don’t take care of it quickly enough, you’ll end up with an overwhelming stench coming from your toilet, bathroom, or kitchen sink.

Tree Roots Can Reduce Flow Capacity

Tree roots can reduce the flow of water through the pipes by clogging up the pipes with their roots and causing them to become blocked or broken over time. This means that less water will move through your pipes which could lead to backups or flooding if it gets too bad!

Tree Roots Can Cause Leaks in Your Home’s Sewer System

When tree roots grow into your home’s sewer line, they can cause leaks leading to sewage leaks, and water leaks out of your toilet or sink. This can also lead to backups when there are heavy rains due to flooding in areas where there are no gutters or storm drains installed yet.

Tree Roots Can Increase Repeat Incidents

Once tree roots have found their way into your sewer lines, they are likely to continue growing and causing issues over time. This means that even if you clear the roots initially, they may return and cause further damage.

Tree Roots Can Have Environmental Impact

Tree roots can grow up to 1 foot per year and cause serious damage to your sewer line when clogging it up. Tree root removal is costly and can be a safety hazard for workers who have to remove them.

Tree Roots Repair Can Be Costly to Repair

Tree roots can break through concrete or clay pipes and cause leaks in the line. If this happens, you will need to hire a Harrisonburg plumber to perform sewer damage restoration at your expense. Repairing these types of leaks can be expensive because it involves digging up the area around your sewer line and replacing damaged parts with new ones made from materials such as PVC pipe or cast iron fittings that cost money upfront but last longer overall when compared with other materials like plastic piping which may not last as long over time due to environmental factors such as heat exposure from UV rays from sunlight exposure during daylight hours (sunlight exposure).

Signs of Tree Roots Damage Your Sewer Line

If your sewer line is damaged by tree roots, it can be a real headache—and it may come as a surprise. But trees that are close to where you live can cause a lot of damage to your sewer system.

We’re here to help you spot the signs that something’s wrong so you can get your home back in shape and avoid expensive sewer repairs down the road. Here are the signs to watch out for:

Slow Drains

Tree roots grow into the soil and make their way through cracks in the sewer line, which can cause slow or clogged drains. This is one of the most common signs that you have a tree root problem with your sewer line.

Multiple Backups

If you’ve had multiple backups in a short period or if they’re happening more often than usual, it could indicate that tree roots have damaged your sewer line. The roots can cause the pipe to crack or collapse entirely, leading to frequent backups and overflows.

Fluctuating Water Levels

If you notice that your water levels are changing back and forth dramatically, there may also be an issue with your sewer line. This can happen when tree roots grow into the line and cause damage from within—the resulting damage causes water pressure changes that make it harder for water to flow through the pipe as usual.

Gurgling Sounds

When tree roots grow into your sewer line, they can cause clogs and blockages, leading to gurgling sounds whenever water flows through the pipe. These noises aren’t just annoying—they’re also an indication that something needs to be done about them!


When tree roots grow into your sewer line, they can cause clogs and blockages that lead to foul odors coming out of your toilets or drains. The smell may be mild at first but will become stronger as time goes on until it becomes unbearable!

Greener or Lusher Patches of Grass

Are there greener or lusher patches of grass in your yard? These patches could be indicative of a damaged pipe that is allowing moisture into the ground—and if left unchecked, this could cause further damage to your sewer line.

Visible Sinkholes or Depressions

If you notice visible sinkholes or depressions in your yard, it may be time to check your sewer line. Tree roots are a common culprit when it comes to damage to the trenchless sewer repair. If there’s a lot of wet weather, it can be hard to tell whether the issue is caused by tree roots or something else.

Sewage Backups

In many cases, sewage back-ups are caused by tree roots growing into a drain or pipe and clogging it up. This can result in the pipes backing up, which leads to very unpleasant smells and dirty water in your home.

Visible Pipe Damage

If you notice any visible damage to your sewer line or drain pipes, this could indicate that tree roots have grown into them and caused damage. This can also lead to sewage backups.

Changes in Water Pressure

If you’re experiencing a sudden change in water pressure, it may mean that tree roots are growing into your sewer line. Tree roots can cause this problem because they grow downward and eventually reach your sewer line, leading to leaks.

How To Clear Tree Root Sewer Damage?

Clearing tree root sewer damage is no easy task.

Clearing tree root damage from sewer lines requires specialized techniques to remove the intrusive roots and restore proper flow effectively. Here are some common methods used to clear tree root sewer damage:

Mechanical Snaking

This is a process where a machine is used to pull out the tree root from your sewer pipes. This can be done by hand or using a machine, depending on the severity of the problem.

Hydro Jetting

This method uses high-pressure water to blast away tree root debris and debris that has built up inside your pipes. This method can be very effective if you have severe blockages but may not be as thorough as mechanical snaking if only minimal tree root damage exists.

Chemical Root Killing

This method involves using chemicals to kill the roots and then removing them from your sewer system. This can be effective, but it does require you to be present for the entire process and may take several days.

Trenchless Repair

This process involves using special equipment to clear out the roots without having to dig up your yard or sidewalk. The trenchless sewer line repair method is less invasive than digging, but it requires some specialized equipment and training to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

Root Cutting Tools

Another way is to use root-cutting tools. This is done by first removing the top layer of soil around where the tree is growing. Then you cut into the ground with a shovel or other digging tool until you reach the pipe where it is clogged. From there, you use a knife or saw to cut through any roots that are blocking your pipes. This may not work well if too much damage is already done, but if there is just some minor blockage, this method will help clear it out quickly and easily!

Mechanical Root Removal

If root-cutting tools aren’t working, you can try using a mechanical root-removal process. This involves sending an auger through your drain line, where it will pull up damaged roots so that they no longer block your pipes. This method is more effective than root-cutting tools alone because it removes debris and dirt that may have built up around those roots over time.

Pro Tips on How to Maintain Your Sewer Lines

For most homeowners, the thought of paying a sewer line maintenance company to maintain their sewer lines is scary. As a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your home is safe and secure. And while you may be able to handle some of the smaller sewer repairs yourself, problems with your sewer lines are just too big for you to handle alone.

When something goes wrong with your sewer line, it can cost you thousands of dollars in sewer repairs. If you don’t take care of it immediately, the problem will only worsen and become more expensive over time. However, if you know how to maintain your sewer lines on your own, you can avoid these costly issues altogether!

Here are some pro tips on how to maintain your sewer lines:

Be Mindful of Landscaping

You may be thinking, “I don’t have a lawn or garden,” but the truth is that landscaping can still create problems with your sewer line. If you have heavy landscaping in your backyard, it could push roots into the ground and damage your sewer line—even if you don’t have a yard!

Regular Inspections

Another way to keep those pipes working smoothly is to hire sewer line repair professionals to perform regular inspections of your home’s sewer system. If there are any cracks or holes in the pipe lining, these can become clogged with debris over time, leading to backups or overflows during heavy rains or snowmelts (which can cause damage to property). The best way to avoid this issue is by getting someone qualified like R.C. Gochenour and Son Plumbing LLC  out there periodically checking things out for you so that any problems can be addressed before they become serious!

Limit Chemical Usage

Chemical drain cleaners can be very effective at unclogging drains, but they do have a downside—they can damage the pipes themselves over time if used too frequently. If possible, avoid using these products and instead try using hot water or a plunger in order to clear out clogs.

Install a Backflow Preventer

A backflow preventer is an important piece of plumbing equipment that prevents water from flowing backward into the home through the sewer line when it should be going forward into the street. This can lead to serious problems if you don’t have one installed on your system, so make sure you get one as soon as possible!

Consider Root Barriers

Root barriers are used to block roots from entering your pipes. Roots can cause major damage to your pipes if they aren’t properly managed. So if you have trees near your house or business that tend to grow close together and have large root systems, consider installing root barriers around them so they don’t penetrate your drainage system.

Professional Tree Care

It’s important that you hire a professional tree care service provider who knows how to maintain trees without damaging their roots or underground pipes. This will ensure that both your trees and pipes stay healthy and unobstructed over time—which means fewer problems down the road!

Consult with R.C. Gochenour and Son Plumbing LLC Today for the Best Sewer Line Repair Services in Harrisonburg!

If you are in the Harrisonburg, VA area, you may have noticed some tree root sewer line damage problems. Sewer lines can become damaged over time by tree roots, and if not fixed right away, they can severely damage your home. In order to avoid these problems, it is important to schedule regular inspections of your sewer line.

At R.C. Gochenour and Son Plumbing LLC in Harrisonburg, Virginia, we provide professional sewer line repair services for residents throughout the area. Our staff will come out to your home and assess the problem with your sewer line so that we can make sure that it is fixed properly before any further damage occurs. 

Whether you need us to thoroughly clean your Sewer Lines in Rockingham or repair them after tree roots or other obstructions have damaged them, we’ll take care of everything quickly and efficiently—and at a price that won’t break the bank.

We also offer emergency service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so that you never have to worry about whether or not someone will be available to come out and fix any issues that occur to your plumbing system during normal business hours when most companies close their doors at 5 pm on weekdays and stay closed on weekends until Monday morning at 9 am.

So if you notice tree roots damaging your sewer line, then call our licensed plumbers today at 540 271 3393—we’re here for you when you need us most!

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R.C. Gochenour and Son Plumbing LLC is proud to serve the plumbing needs of Harrisonburg and surrounding areas, including communities in Page County and Rockingham County.

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