Roots in sewer lines are one of the biggest problems you can have in a property. Roots are the arch nemesis of plumbers and their plumbing tools, and even plumbing companies have been named after underground roots in the sewer line for example (The Rooter Drain Expert). This article will be a detailed account of roots, how they intrude into your sewer line, and how to permanently keep them out.
Roots are the parts of plants and trees that grow underground to anchor the pant/tree and absorb nutriment and moisture. Many small plants have thin hair like roots which do not go deep underground, grass for example has this kind of roots which are thin as hairs and stay very close to the surface. However big trees like palms and shade trees need big strong roots that go deep underground. Trees are the tallest living organisms on earth, and they need strong roots to anchor themselves to the ground and prevent them to fall to the ground because of wind or other factors in the surface. Another characteristic about roots other than providing a good grip is their importance in providing the tree moisture and nutriment. Roots are programmed to find waterbeds underground (moisture). Regularly underground waterbeds can be found hundreds or even thousands of feet underground, but in urban environments like Los Angeles, California or any other big city in the world; underground pluming of water and sewage are artificial underground waterbeds of easy access for tree roots. A study made by UCLA found houses in the valleys around the Rocky Mountains with roots problems, even though the nearest trees were 2,500 feet away.
Many property owners are puzzled when a plumber discovers tree roots in their sewer line when they don’t have any trees on their backyards or there are any trees not even around the block, but the roots could be from a tree that is thousands of feet away.
How do they intrude the sewer line?
In Los Angeles County properties have clay pipes, galvanized pipe, or ABS pipes for their sewer line, the two most important factors to consider a sewer line vulnerability to root intrusions are age and material.
Clay pipes are probably the most vulnerable pipes to root intrusions. Clay pipes come in segments of 3-6 feet in length and in a sewer line installation they are connected to each other using joints. Many of these joints have weak spots and roots have a big laugh intruding through them. Bad clay sewer pipe installations can be responsible for root intrusion, with time the joints weaken and the older the clay pipe installations the more vulnerable it becomes to root intrusion. Clay pipes are fragile; in areas like Southern California, we have earthquakes year round, and these seismic movements can easily brake or fragment the inflexible clay pipes, giving easy access for root intrusion.