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tree with exposed roots

Detecting & Preventing Tree Roots in Your Sewer Line

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.

Conclusion

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.

sewer grate

How Leaves Affect Your Septic System

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.

sewer drain cover

5 Signs Your Sewer is Damaged

A sewer might seem like an unnecessary part of the home, but it’s one of the most important. Without it, you would have toxic waste building up in your walls. While durable, sometimes they can break. Below you’ll find more information about what could damage this system and a few signs that you might need to get it examined.

What Damages a Sewer?

There are many things that could damage your sewer. A common cause is corrosion. If your pipes are old or if the soil is too wet, it could cause the metal pipes to break.

Another issue is tree roots. If your septic system is situated near woods or a large tree, you risk its roots growing and wrapping around the pipes.

The last main problem that could damage a sewer is rats. While not always a concern, once they enter this system, they will quickly multiply. They will also try to sharpen their teeth on the pipes, something which could puncture them.

5 Signs Your Sewer is Broken

You Smell a Strong Odor: One of the most common signs that your sewer is broken is that you smell a strong odor near the septic system or coming out of your toilet. This odor is bacteria within the sewer that is escaping through small holes.

The Grass Looks Extra Green Around the Area: While you might appreciate the extra lush grass around your yard, it’s an indication that there’s a problem. This usually shows a leak or that there’s a problem with the surrounding drainfield.

There are Sinkholes: Another thing to watch out for are sinkholes. Sewers will cause this when they allow water and other debris to escape from them. Over time, this will disturb the land and cause it to slowly collapse.

Your Drain is Acting Up: If you find that your home’s drains are having trouble removing water, it could be due to a broken sewer. Many times, this shows that there’s a clog in the pipes leading to the septic system.

You Notice More Pests in Your Home: Numerous pests, like drain flies and cockroaches, enjoy living in your sewer system because it’s dark and moist. It also provides them with a consistent food and water source. If your septic system is damaged, leaks will invite these creatures to enter your home, especially in your kitchen and bathroom.

It’s important to fix your sewer if you notice these signs. RCS can help by refering a qualified plumber in the Sonoma County ariea to fix your septic issues so you don’t need to worry about them spreading.

What Is The Biggest Threat From Sewer Damage?

What Is The Biggest Threat from Sewer Problems?

The thought of sewer problems is enough to make any homeowner’s blood run cold. These problems are often extensive, expensive and almost impossible to predict.

Sewer problems occur when something happens to the outflow line that connects your home to the municipal sewer system where you live. When everything is in good working order, wastewater simply leaves your home bound for the treatment plant, and all is well.

However, when something happens to disrupt the wastewater flow, bad things happen. Today we’re going to take a look at the biggest threat to your home from sewer problems.

Understanding a Sewer Line Blockage

Blockages in a variety of forms are the main culprit behind sewer line problems. Often, blockages occur from interference, such as tree roots penetrating the sewer line, or from internal issues, like grease and other waste backing up the pipe.

There are, of course, other problems that can cause a sewer line issue. These include breaks, punctures and leaky joints.

If you have a sewer line blockage or break, you will become aware of the problem fairly quickly. Often, sewer line issues present themselves with slowly draining shower and sink drains. This may be accompanied by slight backflow and overflow into basement drains.

Obviously reduced drain speed and backed up drains can lead to flooding issues, particularly if a sewer line problem is overlooked for too long.

Sewer Problems and Homeowner’s Insurance

The biggest problem with a sewer backup, blockage or break is that sewer problems are not covered under most homeowner’s insurance policies. This means that the cost for repair or replacement and any residual issues from flooding are the homeowner’s responsibility alone.

Additionally, sewer line maintenance is the owner’s responsibility up until the point where the line intersects with the city’s main line. In the event of a sewer line failure, you as a homeowner are entirely responsible for every aspect of repair up to the intersection. This includes the underground area both on your property, and likely underneath the sidewalk and road in front of your house.

Sewer line repairs are very expensive – often running homeowners upward of $10,000 to repair. There is, unfortunately no way to predict when sewer line problems will occur. Additionally, you won’t get the money invested into a repair when you go to sell your home, because a functional sewer line is simply something you just have to have.

Catching problems quickly and being diligent about what items leave the home through your sewer line are the best ways to minimize the likelihood of running into sewer trouble.

Warning Signs of a Clogged Sewer Line

Warning Signs of a Clogged Sewer Line

Without a doubt, a properly functioning sewer line is one of the most important and underappreciated parts of a home. When they are working right, we don’t give them a second’s thought. The minute something goes wrong, however? Well, at that point you probably won’t be able to think about anything else. Toilets, showers, dishwashers, sinks — take those out of commission and you’ve got a serious problem, one that needs to be fixed as soon as possible. So, how can you know if your sewer line is starting to back up? Here are a couple of warning signs you should look out for:

1) Multiple Clogged Drains

We all get the occasional clogged sink from things like hair, bits of food, toilet paper, whatever. But when you start to get more than one drain that seems clogged at the same time, it means that there is something obstructing your house’s main drain, which is your sewer line, and that clog is stopping everything from getting out. Just like all roads lead to Rome, all drains lead to the same pipe. And if that pipe doesn't drain, you’ve got serious problems.

2) Water Backing Up

The action from one sink or appliance should have minimal effect on others. Sure, turning on the sink might make someone take a colder shower, but other than that they are fairly separate. So, if turning on a sink makes your bathtub start to gurgle, sputter, or (worse) back up, then you’ve got water that has no place to go. This goes for anything in your house that uses water: running or flushing one thing shouldn’t cause it to back up somewhere else in the house. When this starts, you’re only one step away from those multiple clogs we just talked about.

3) Toilet Problems

When we think of sewers, we naturally think of toilets. So, when your toilets start acting strange, there’s a good chance you’ve got problems with your sewer line. Again, one toilet flushing slowly, bubbling, or gurgling is probably just a localized problem. But when drain cleaners and plunging fail to fix the problem, and it starts to happen in more than one toilet, then you’ve got a serious issue that you need to fix as soon as possible.

4) Bubbles

We just mentioned bubbles, and for good reason: bubbles and gurgling coming from your sinks, tubs, or toilets is never a good sign. Bubbles form when water tries to get past a clog, trapping air in the process. Keep an eye out to see if the bubbles are happening everywhere in all of your drains. . If so, then you’ve most likely got a problem.

When you start to notice problems like these, it’s important to get it taken care of as soon as possible. What starts out as slow drainage can quickly turn into overflowing toilets, water damage, and horrible smells that can ruin your house. And don’t think you can do this on your own: backed up sewer lines can be caused for many reasons, and they take expert knowledge to diagnose and fix. 

It it's too late, and you have a horrible mess to deal with, call a professional restoration and cleanup service like us.

Warning Signs Of A Sewer Pipe Damage

Warning Signs Of A Sewer Pipe Damage

 

If you can’t truthfully say that you’re a plumber or a professional of a related field, chances are you won’t know about the warning signs involved with having a pipe about to break or fail. It’s important as a homeowner or building manager for you to be able to recognize the signs of an impending sewage spill. Spotting it early can mean saving thousands of dollars, so it’s important to know the big signs.

Warning Signs Of An Impending Sewage Spill

 

Unexplainable Water Bills

This is actually perhaps the most telltale sign of a pipe breakage or need for repair. Your water bill gives a factual record of how much water you are using. Bill overages indicate a leak or a burst pipe. Most Pennsylvanians average a water bill around $40 a month, and if you find yourself with a bill $5-10 dollars more expensive in a month, you likely have a problem with one of your pipes.

Repulsive Odors

If you smell a foul odor in your home or building, then you likely have water damage internally that has allowed mold or mildew to form. The water buildup comes from a damaged pipe, and the foul odors from the stagnant water. If you are smelling odors like these and can’t find a source for it in your house, you need to get your system checked ASAP.

Poor Water Pressure and Flow

Water pressure in your home or building is another great indicator for pipe damage. If there is less flow, how much water is put out, in your sink, shower, etc., there is a leak somewhere in one of your pipes. Water pressure, rather, is how hard the water is pushed out, and variance here indicates an expanded or burst pipe.

Constant Clogging

Blockages may seem like a normal occurence in your household but they may spell trouble. These blockages can result in more serious damage, particularly if you have old or damaged pipes and the clog proves to be the tougher. If after thorough cleaning, you still experience clogs, you most likely have a broken pipe in your sewage system.

Damp Spots

Lastly, if you see damp spots that you know aren’t from a spill, especially on carpet, there’s likely existing damage that could lead to serious problems if not treated.

To learn more about water damage and repair services, visit us at rcscares.com/damagecleanup/ or call us at (707) 570-0555.