We are fortunate to live here in Georgia where the landscape is lush with trees, flowers and plants. The downside though of this is that our plumbing pipes can end up taking a beating from all those roots!

Why Are Tree Roots Attracted To Pipes?

The tips of tree roots can naturally detect the slightest differences in the level of moisture nearby so they are attracted to the warm water flow that is in sewer pipes in your yard. They will then begin moving (growing) towards that water source and begin the process of searching for a way in to the pipe.

If there is a crack or a loose joint in the pipe system - that's a very easy way for plant and tree roots to gain access.

To Help Prevent Tree Roots From Getting Into Your Pipes

There are a few preventive measures that you can take to stop this from happening.

1) Plant trees at least 10 feet away from any sewer lines - if possible. This isn't a foolproof prevention but it will take the tree roots much longer to get to your pipes if they are further away to begin with.

2) Plant trees that are considered to be "safe" - because they are smaller and grow more slowly. A few are:

  • Amur Maple
  • Paperbark Maple
  • Serviceberry
  • Fringetree
  • Flowering Dogwood
  • Cypress

3) You can use products like Copper Sulfate to dissolve tree roots without killing the entire tree. But be aware that it is banned in certain areas because it can be harmful to animals.

Because copper sulfate can be toxic to animals and its buildup in aquatic environments can harm both plant and fish populations, the use of the root destroyer is banned in certain areas. As a result, before using copper sulfate as root killer, you'll need to check with local and state ordinances to see whether the treatment is legal or not. - Hunker.com

You can contact your local water department for more information on Copper Sulfate.

There are also other various products on the market that can be used to kill plant roots in your sewer pipes. The geography that you live in will determine what the best type of product to use so we recommend that you contact an arborist or speak to a professional at your local nursery.

4) Physical barriers can also be used to keep tree and plant roots from your water pipes and sewer lines. This would involve some work but may be a good solution for your situation.

The idea here is to place metal or wooden barriers deep into the ground, ideally 6 to 12 inches deeper than the pipes and to run them vertically alongside the pipes.

How Do You Get Rid Of Roots In Your Pipes?

1. Prevention, of course, is the very first thing that any homeowner should be doing to keep plant and tree roots from invading their plumbing system, but it may not always be enough.

Because many homes here in Georgia are situation in highly forested properties, it's very difficult to prevent tree root invasion 100% of the time.

So, in addition to preventive measures, we recommend that you have regular "checkups" of your plumbing system with a Camera Inspection Service.

Camera pipe inspection is a relatively new tool available to plumbing contractors for diagnosing chronic sewer and drain problems.

These waterproof video cameras are specially made to fit the end of a tube which is then snaked through your pipes. The operator can see the live video via his tablet or computer screen as if he's in the pipe himself. The "camera" itself is a fiber optic camera, like the ones used in smart phones.

This is a great way to identify not only if there are roots in your pipes but also if there are any cracks or loose joint fittings throughout your plumbing system.

2. Using products like Rock Salt and Bleach may kill the roots that are invading your pipes but they may also very well kill the plants / trees connected to those roots so if you do use these type of products, we advise that you do so cautiously and/or under the supervision of a landscaper or arborist.

As we mentioned above, Copper Sulfate may be a safer product to use to kill the roots but again, it is not legal to use in all areas and may harm animals.

3. The last step to getting rid of roots in your pipes is to physically remove them by digging up the pipes, removing the roots that have invaded them and replacing them with newer pipes. We generally recommend PVC pipes because they are, as of today, the best type of pipe material to ward off plant and tree roots.

The reason PVC pipes are more impenetrable than other pipe materials is because they have fewer and tighter fitting joints and they are less likely to crack and leak. These two factors make them a superior piping product.

If you have any questions about roots in your water pipes or are having some problems with it, call Atlantis Plumbing today at 770-443-8229. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.