Tree Roots


Believe it or not, tree roots intruding into a sewer line is the most common cause for mainline backups in San Jose, and the South Bay Area.  In fact, it is so common, and so many questions arise that we chose to do a follow up on our previous article entitled “Rooter Service” <– click there to read

We are going to deviate from our usual format, and write this article more along the lines of a “Tree Roots FAQ”.  Are you ready?  Let’s get started…

Tree Roots Frequently Asked Questions

Q – Why are there roots in my sewer line?

A – Tree roots basically do two things: they keep the tree from falling over, and they serve to collect water and nutrients to feed the tree.  The inside of a sewer line sees a lot of water, and a ton of nutrients.  If a tree root can find its way inside a sewer line (and it takes a very tiny hole to do so), it will feed, and grow until it completely takes over.

Q – I had a plumber perform a rooter service, and he cut out the roots.  Is my problem solved?

A – Unfortunately, no.  Although the roots were cut, it is not possible to get every last trace of roots.  The stubs will still be there.  It’s like cutting a bush at ground level.  Over time that bush will start to sprout new growth, and left unchecked, will grow into an entirely new bush.  The roots do the same.  The only way to solve the problem is to completely remove the roots, and seal the hole they used to get into the pipe.

Q – How do I permanently fix a root problem?

A – The only way to really remove the roots completely and seal the hole is to remove the affected section of pipe and replace it with “root proof” seals.  This can be done via a spot repair, or an entirely new sewer line.  If you are unsure which of those two options is the best for your situation, you can check out our article on Sewer Repair/Replacement.

Q – I heard about sewer pipe lining.  Will that work?

A – There are some instances where relining your sewer line may be an option.  Unfortunately it is not usually the best option.  There are several reasons for this, and we will cover that in a future article (sewer pipe lining).

Q – My sewer line used to back up every year, now it is happening more and more frequently.  Why is this happening?

A – There could be a number of factors at play here, but the biggest factor is likely the roots themselves.  The easiest way to explain is to ask you to (again) envision a bush.  If you take a small, thin plant, and you prune it, the spot from which you prune it will grow back pretty fast.  Often, two sprouts will take the place of the one you pruned.  The limb you pruned will also get thicker and stronger.  If you continue to regularly prune that plant, it will grow to be a strong and full bush.  The roots in your sewer line act the exact same way.  You are not really getting rid of the roots when you get your sewer cleaned.  You are merely pruning them, so that they grow back faster, thicker and stronger.

Q – I do not have any tress, or I had my tree removed, why do I still get root problems?

A – Like pretty much everything else that is alive, trees thrive to survive.  You can have a tree completely removed, including the stump, and the roots underground will continue to survive for years.  An example of this can be found in my own front yard.  I have lived in my current home for over 6 years, and there has never been a tree in my front yard that I know of.  Yet, every year I see new tree saplings sprouting up in my yard.  Is this from a tree that used to be there, or the roots from a tree from across the street finding its way into my front yard?  There is no way to know for sure, but they are there.  If the roots are there, they can find my sewer line.

Q – What about root killing chemicals?  Do they work?

A – The short answer is, “Yes, and no.”  The proper root killer is one that foams and turns very thick, so that it clings to the roots, but does not leach into your ground soil and kill all your surrounding landscaping (remember, if you have roots, there is a hole in your sewer somewhere).  These compounds are very pricey, and after years of them being on the market, the jury is still out as to whether or not they really work.  Even if they do work, and manage to kill the roots themselves, they still leave a hole there in your sewer line, and more will get in at some point.

Are there more questions that we have not answered in this FAQ?  If so, feel free to give Gogo Rooter a call.  We will be happy to help you with those pesky tree roots.

Hey, we have “rooter” in our name.  We got this!