If all of the plumbing fixtures in your home are backing up with foul-smelling sewage, your sewer line is clogged. One of the most common causes of a clogged sewer line is tree root intrusion. Tree roots get into your pipes through the joints that connect sections of pipe. Roots will grow into the joints of the pipe and then begin growing into the pipe itself, preventing water from draining through the sewer line. This will cause your plumbing fixtures to back up with sewage, which needs immediate professional attention — not only does sewage smell foul, but it can harbor dangerous bacteria. For a permanent solution to root intrusion in your sewer line, you'll need to call a professional plumber.
Root Control Products Are Ineffective and Can Damage Your Pipes
The root removal or root control products you see for sale in the plumbing section of the hardware store are ineffective. The reason for this is that your sewer line is a wide pipe that's installed horizontally. It's rare for the pipe to be fully filled with water — in most conditions, there's only a small layer of water at the bottom of the pipe.
When you add a root control product to your plumbing system, it disperses into that small layer of water in your sewer pipe. It doesn't fill the entire pipe. Only roots that are touching the water will be eaten away. Roots intruding through the top of the pipe are unaffected. While root control products can provide a temporary fix by eating away clogs, the roots will quickly regrow and block the pipe again. In addition, frequent use of root control products can damage your pipe, since these products are composed of caustic chemicals that contribute to pipe corrosion.
Plumbing Augers Cut Roots Away, but Don't Stop Root Growth
You can rent a plumbing auger with a rotating blade on the end. These tools are similar to pipe snakes but are meant for cutting away tree roots instead of hooking clogs. You feed the auger into your sewer line and cut away intruding tree roots from the sides of your pipe. Much like using root control products, this only provides a temporary fix. A plumbing auger can't reach into the joints of the pipe where the initial root intrusion occurred, so you can't eliminate the source of the root growth. Eventually, the roots will regrow and block your pipes again.
Contact a Professional Plumber for a Permanent Solution
The only permanent solution to tree root intrusion in your sewer line is to repipe the line. Advances in plumbing technology have eliminated the need to dig up huge sections of your yard. As long as the existing sewer line is unbroken, a professional plumber can repipe your sewer line using either the trenchless pipe lining method. This is a less expensive alternative to digging up your yard to replace your entire sewer line.
In the trenchless pipe method, a membrane containing epoxy compounds is run through your existing sewer line and inflated. When the epoxy cures, the membrane is securely welded to the inside of your sewer line. Since there are no joints in the membrane, there's no opportunity for roots to intrude. This effectively keeps roots out of your sewer line.
If sewage is backing up into your plumbing fixtures, call a professional plumber as soon as possible. A plumber will inspect your sewer system using a pipe camera to determine if root intrusion is the culprit behind the clog. He or she will also examine the condition of your sewer line and determine if trenchless pipe relining can be performed. Since trenchless relining requires your sewer line to be in good condition, it's important to call a plumber at the first sign of root intrusion — leaving roots to grow in your pipe can eventually cause sections of pipe to separate at the joints, necessitating more expensive methods of repair.
For more information, contact your local drain repair service.