Once roots get into your lateral (the connection from your home to our main sewer line) they trap grease, tissue paper, and other debris resulting in blockages in your lateral line that can require very costly repairs.
Roots thrive in the warm, moist, nutrient-rich atmosphere above the water level inside sanitary sewers. Tree roots are attracted to the water vapor leaving the pipe and they follow the vapor trail to the source of the moisture, which is usually from cracks or loose joints in the sewer pipe. Tree roots will penetrate the opening to reach the nutrients and moisture inside the pipe. The first signs of a slow flowing drainage system are gurgling noises from toilet bowls or slow draining bath tubs. A complete blockage may occur if no remedial action is taken to remove the roots.
As roots continue to grow, they exert considerable pressure at the crack or joint where they entered the pipe. The force exerted by the root growth can break the pipe and may result in total collapse of the pipe. Severe root intrusion and structurally damaged pipes will require replacement. Tree roots growing inside sewer pipes are generally the most expensive sewer maintenance item experienced by residents. Roots from trees growing on private property throughout the MAWC service area are responsible for many sanitary sewer backups and damaged sewer pipes. Homeowners should be aware of the location of their lateral line and refrain from planting trees, bushes, and hedges near that area.
If your home was built before 1980, you may have clay or iron pipes. These pipes are more likely to have cracks or joint problems, therefore resulting in root problems.
Other than removing the trees or replacing the building sewers with PVC pipe, there isn't any permanent solution. If the blockage is bad, the roots have to be cut and flushed away. A foam-type aquatic herbicide can be added a couple weeks later. The foaming herbicide fills the pipe, killing the roots on the top of the pipe as well as the sides. Annual use usually will keep them from returning. Please do not use any copper sulfate type root-killer. The copper will end up at the treatment plant and may adversely affect the sewage treatment process.
Should you decide to replace your damaged lateral please pick up a copy of the lateral detail specifications at the Authority's office and remember to contact the Authority to schedule the required free inspection. Contact MAWC for more information.