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Trees and Sewer Lines: What You Need to Know Before You Plant

Before you plant trees on your property, you should know how those trees could impact your sewer. Under the right conditions, tree roots can clog or collapse the lines. Know what you can do to protect your sewer so you can take care of your property. 
Trees With More Invasive Roots
Some trees are known to have aggressive roots that will spread long distances and grow into tight spaces for water. These trees can be a danger to your sewer line and are best not planted on your property. These trees include:
  • Cottonwood
  • Fig
  • Poplars
  • Silver maple
  • Willows
In general, any tree that is fast growing and large can be dangerous to your sewer system. Some trees are designated as sewer safe, meaning they can be planted on your property with less danger to your sewer line. Some of these trees include:
  • Gingko
  • Japanese maple
  • Serviceberry
  • Smoke
If you're not sure about a particular type of tree, speak with the person at the nursery where you are thinking about buying your tree. A knowledgeable plant expert should be able to tell you about the growing habits of the roots of the tree that you would like to purchase. 
Distance From Sewer Line
Even if you plant a sewer safe tree on your property, plant it a safe distance from your sewer line. Contact your local utility company to find out where the sewer lines are located before putting a tree in the ground.
Once you know where the lines are, find out the expected root size of the tree that you would like to plant. This can help you determine where the tree can be planted in relation to the sewer line. 
Drought Problems
A thirsty tree will grow more roots more aggressively to find water. During times of drought, trees often grow roots into the sewer line.
The best way to protect your sewer lines from your trees during times of drought is to water your tree on a regular basis. To water a tree, use a drip irrigation system or a hose to water the area just around the outside of the tree's crown.
Trees need to be watered to a depth of about 18 to 24 inches down in the ground, or until water begins to run off of the surface of the soil. Be sure to irrigate your trees in the mid to late summer when the soil is dry. 
Some trees need to be watered once monthly, others need more watering. Talk to an expert to find out how often your tree needs to be watered.  
Signs Your Sewer Line Has Been Invaded By Tree Roots
Knowing the signs that your sewer line has been invaded by tree roots can ensure that you'll get help from a plumber when it's needed. Common signs that your sewer lines have been clogged include:
  • Slow drains in the house (especially in the lowest drains) 
  • Gurgling noises in the drains
  • Water draining from one plumbing fixture flows into another instead of flowing down the drain  
Note that these warning signs could also be an indication of a sewer clog that is unrelated to tree roots. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to tell the difference without help from an expert. If your drains are displaying any of the above behaviors, talk to a plumbing expert to get sewer help.
Plumber Assistance
If you have more questions about how you can protect your sewers from tree roots, contact us at Action Plumbing & Heating Maintenance. We're happy to provide answers to your questions and give you plumbing advice to keep your sewer line in good shape.