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Detecting & Preventing Tree Roots in Your Sewer Line

tree with exposed roots

One cause of a sewer backup may be due to tree roots getting into your sewer line. Tree roots can block the line and cause sewage to back up into your home, in addition to causing damage to your sewer line and plumbing. Here are some of the things to watch for and ways to prevent tree roots from causing a sewer back up.

Why Tree Roots Grow in Sewer Lines

A big shady tree is a beautiful landscape feature, but the bigger the tree, the longer the reach of the roots. Tree roots are drawn to a leak in a sewer line because it provides the perfect environment for the tree to grow. A leaky sewer line gives the roots oxygen, water and food. While tree roots don’t initially cause problems with sewer backups, it’s when the tree roots grow and flourish over time that give them the potential to cause all kinds of damage. Older homes or those surrounded by large trees are especially prone to this type of problem.

Signs of Possible Tree Root Problems

Here are some signs that you may have tree roots blocking your sewer lines:
  • Slow draining sinks and tubs
  • Frequent plumbing back ups in floor drains or tubs
  • Toilets that won’t flush or make gurgling noises
  • Gurgling noises from floor drains
  • Unpleasant, lingering sewer odor
  • Frequent clogs

Tree Root Fixes

There are a few options when dealing with tree roots that have infiltrated your sewer lines.

Mechanical Removal

Rent an auger, which is a piece of equipment you “snake” down through a floor drain or toilet to clear through the root blockages. The upside of this method is that it most likely will clear enough of the roots to provide a temporary fix until the problem is properly corrected. The downsides of this method are that it requires some sweat equity, may require several attempts, and may not be able to clear through the blockage. The biggest drawback is that it’s only temporary and those tree roots will grow back.

Chemical Removal

Using a foaming herbicide-laden root killer might do the trick and doesn’t harm your pipes. The chemicals contained in these products kill tree roots on contact and prevents most new growth. These products are typically used directly in the toilet but follow directions carefully.

Prevention Measures

  • Identify where the sewer lines run through your yard. Digger’s Hotline can mark your property, so you know exactly where underground lines and utilities are located. A phone call requesting this service can save you a lot of money and headaches down the road.
  • When planting trees for landscape purposes, don’t plant the trees near sewer or water lines.
  • If you plant trees near sewer lines, choose smaller, slow-growing varieties.
  • If you discover where the sewer lines are located and large trees are planted nearby, you may want to have them removed now to avoid potential future issues with ever-growing tree roots.
  • You may need to hire a plumber who specializes in identifying and clearing clogs in sewer pipes. They can “camera” your pipes and verify whether you have tree roots or something else blocking your pipes.


If it’s too late and the damage after a bad sewer backup is done, call the Sonoma County water and sewage extraction specialists at RCS.

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Restoration After Sewer/Water Damage

water damage santa rosa

If you have experienced sewer or water damage to your home, you may think that once the cleanup is complete, you’re done. However, in some cases that’s only about half of the process. The final step is to restore your home to its pristine condition prior to the damage. Here is what to expect.

Assessing the Damage

Your part in the process is to act quickly. The longer you wait, the more time there is for further damage, potential structural damage and the longer the cleanup and restoration process will take. Aside from the structural impact on your home, prolonging sewer or water damage cleanup leaves conditions right for mold, mildew and bacteria to form, leading to airborne pathogens that result in potential illness and respiratory distress. Depending upon the amount of water left behind, standing water (especially due to sewer backups) should be turned over to a professional to properly remove, dry and sanitize every inch of the damaged space. Water doesn’t just pool on the floor, it seeps into drywall, wood, insulation, carpeting, flooring, stored personal items and porous surfaces. It’s this that causes more extensive damage. The level of water damage determines the cleanup and restoration plan. At the assessment stage, water damage is rated from Category 1 to 3. Category 1 is minor damage, while Category 3 is severe and earmarked by saturated flooring, carpet and drywall, and evidence of contaminated water filled with dangerous bacteria and pathogens. After inspection, most likely done on an emergency basis due to the urgency of water removal, damage is assessed, and a cleanup and restoration plan is discussed and put into action as soon as possible. After the water is removed, the space is dried completely, cleaning and sanitizing have been completed, the final step, or restoration work begins.

The Restoration Process

When the restoration work begins, you know you are in the final stretch and typically within a few days, you’ll be able to enjoy your space once again. Depending on the extent of damage, restoration can range from relatively minor repairs to a more extensive, involved project. If the damage was rated a Category 3, the restoration process involves replacing any and all materials that were damaged from the water. This includes replacement of drywall, flooring, sub-flooring and restoration of any other damaged structures such as built-in cabinets, a kitchen, bar, and any other structural damage.


While a small amount of water is something you can probably manage yourself, it’s the burst pipes, broken water heaters, floods or sewer back-ups that call for the professionals. At RCS, we’re here for you in an emergency or to answer any of your questions. Let our highly skilled professionals in Santa Rosa, CA handle the entire sewer/water damage restoration process for you.

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How Leaves Affect Your Septic System

sewer grate

Millions of leaves descend to the ground during the fall. While they can be a beautiful sight, they can be a huge nuisance for homeowners. One particular issue is them clogging your septic system. This post will explore how leaves can ruin your septic lines and a few ways you can protect your sewer from them.

Do Leaves Cause Problems for Septic Lines?

Surprisingly, leaves can create serious issues for septic lines. Large quantities of them can collect together and make a large wet bundle. The longer they stick together, the harder they’ll be to remove. Eventually, the clump could block pipes making it harder for your sewer to function. Sometimes, the mold they produced could also eat away at the pipes causing them to crack. Because of the unique gravity situation with your sewer, the more the leaves sit on its drainage field, the more likely they will cause it to sink. This could create heavy puddles which could lead to sinkholes.

How to Protect Your Sewer From Leaves

Rake Leaves Away From It: One of the best ways to prevent leaves from clogging your sewer is to consistently remove them. While this might be a hassle at first, it will be worth it in the end. Regular raking will prevent leaf build-up around the sewer. It can also stop mold growth within the leaves which could eventually sneak into your home. Make sure to fully remove them though from the spot. Otherwise, they could blow back and fill the area again. Do Regular Inspections: You’ll also want to frequently check the sewer and the devices connected to it. If you notice your toilet backing up, the sounds of running water in the walls, or smell a strong odor coming from the sewer, you’ll want to get it checked out immediately by a professional. Use a Drain Guard: If your home has an outdoor drain it’s an easy target for leaves. To stop them from flushing into this area, place a drain guard over it. This slotted tool allows water to easily flow into the section but keeps leaves out. Keep in mind that you’ll need to wipe it off every so often so the rain can easily flow through. Colorful fall leaves are a stunning natural wonder but they can wreak havoc on your sewer. If you’re concerned they might have caused sewer or water damage, in Sonoma County, contact RCS. Our team will inspect the issue and get to work fixing it.

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How to Save Wood Floors From Water Damage

wood flooring santa rosa

Hardwood floors are a highlight in many homes thanks to their stunning looks and durability. Despite this, they can get ruined if they come into constant contact with water. Below you’ll find more information about how water hurts hardwood floors and how you can better defend them from it.

How Water Damages Wood Flooring

When water seeps into wood it will quickly soak into its fibers. Depending on how well the floor is sealed, the liquid will linger and spread through the planks. The longer this happens, the more likely cupping will occur. This results in the flooring abnormally expanding which can make it buckle.

Is Water Damage Serious?

Yes, this is a concerning problem. Not only will water damage ruin the hardwood’s aesthetics, but will encourage the growth of mold. When mold spores develop, they’ll cause the wood to turn black and green. They’ll also result in the area having a musty smell. If not fixed, your flooring won’t only look unsightly but could become a structural hazard.

3 Ways to Protect Wood Floors From Water

Apply a Sealant: One of the best ways to defend your floor from water damage is to seal it. Often, a polyurethane finish is ideal because it will enhance the wood’s grains while creating a strong barrier. While the seal won’t fully stop water from sneaking into the wood, it will do a better job at safeguarding it from serious issues. Don’t Wear Shoes On It: If you walk across the floor with dirty or wet shoes, any debris on them will get pressed into the floor. Many times, particles left behind by shoes go unnoticed because they’re so small. Despite this, they can cause major problems. To prevent this, it might be best to ban wearing shoes on your floors. If you prefer to wear shoes, invest in a pair that you only wear indoors. Quickly Clean Up Messes: You want to always clean up any water droplets from your floors as soon as you notice them. This will stop them from soaking into the floor. You can use paper towels to do so or have a mop on hand. Water damage is an alarming problem that can negatively affect your wood floors. By keeping these tips in mind, you can help shield your flooring from it. If you’re worried you might already have hardwood water damage, give RCS a call in Santa Rosa. We’ll be happy to inspect it and offer advice as to how it can be restored.

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Tips For Removing Water Damage Odors

deoderize home sonoma

Water damage is a common problem. Besides ruining your home’s structure, it can also emit a strong smell. This post will explain more about what this odor is and how you can get rid of it.

What Causes Water Damage Odors?

The musty smell your home has after water damage is due to mold. Because the water will puddle in an area, it will make the section moist. This moisture will create humid conditions which will encourage mold growth. The longer it sits, the more the mold will reproduce. This won’t only cause severe structural damage but can contaminate the air.

How to Get Rid of It

Apply Baking Soda: Baking soda is a well-known deodorizer. By sprinkling it on and around the damage, it will quickly soak up the odors. It can also reduce moisture which can destroy mold spores. Make sure to let the baking soda sit for at least 24 hours. This way, it has enough time to fix the problem. When you’re ready to remove it, simply vacuum it up. Install a Dehumidifier: Another way to get rid of this pungent smell is to utilize a dehumidifier. This device will absorb humidity. This can irritate the mold because its prime living conditions have been disturbed. The longer it runs, the more it will remove mold and its spores. This will end up reducing the odor. Besides eliminating the smell, a dehumidifier can also dry the affected area so the problem doesn’t spread. Blow Fans: Proper ventilation is key when it comes to getting rid of water damage odors. By blowing fans in the spot, it will improve air circulation. This can reduce the musty smell and dry damp areas. Make an Essential Oil Mix: If you can’t stand the smell, consider blending some essential oils which can mask the odor. Many are also antibacterial so they’ll get to work eating away at the mold. Some of the best to use for this purpose are:
  • Lemon
  • Rosemary
  • Tea tree
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
Keep in mind you do need to dilute them in water. While this small amount of liquid won’t make the problem worse when you spray it on, make sure to not overdo it. Water damage is a serious problem that can cause anything from structural damage to allergic reactions. If you suspect you might have this issue in your Santa Rosa home, RCS can help. We offer water extraction and mold remediation services that will work to quickly eradicate any issues so you stay safe.

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Who To Call For A Broken Pipe In The Wall

pipe water damage santa rosa, ca

An issue commonly faced by homeowners and renters is water damage from a leaking or broken pipe, and since plumbing takes place behind the scenes, it can be confusing for someone to deal with it if they have no prior knowledge. Fortunately, it’s not very difficult to spot the symptoms of a faulty pipe, but the damage could all come at once. If you see water damage on the walls or ceiling or notice the odor of sewage in your home, then it’s likely you have a broken (or soon to be broken pipe) and you should contact a professional immediately. In the case of a water emergency, you’ll want to shut off the main-valve as soon as you notice a burst pipe, this will prevent any further damage. There should be two main-valves (if not more) located at your water-meter; once you’ve located these, you should turn them both off until you understand the location of the damaged pipe and the nature of the leak. (If you don’t know where your water-meter is, you should locate it before an issue like this occurs if possible.) Once the potential of further damage has ceased, you should proceed to secure any valuable items and documents from harm’s way; if there is a pool of water, you should shut-off your electricity to avoid electrocution until you’re certain there is no risk, then find a method to drain the water out of your house (most easily with a water pump). Remove any rugs or items which may have gotten wet and vacuum the water out to prevent mold from growing (you may need to hire a carpet-cleaner). When the urgent water damage has been dealt with, it’s time to hire a water damage specialist near you to repair the damage and clean any mold which has potentially grown in your home. What needs to be done is: cut out the drywall around the affected area, precisely locate the broken pipe, remove the pipe, clean the pipe (inside and out), solder on a copper repair-sleeve, ensure the leak has been repaired, then patch the wall. You can also skip cleaning the pipe and mounting a repair-sleeve by simply replacing the pipe. In the case of a broken sewage pipe (accompanied by a disgusting odor), attempt to secure the leak by blocking both sides with a rag and duct-tape, then call a professional immediately (these leaks can release harmful chemicals into your home). Repairing a broken pipe in your wall can be tricky and, if done improperly, can cause further damage to your home. Your best course of action is to personally deal with any urgent threats of water damage and call a professional plumber immediately. For additional help in the north bay, contact us for a qualified plumber.

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