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How To Deal With Tree Roots In Your Septic System

Updated: Apr 14

Vector drawing of yellow house showing cutaway view of toilet, bathroom sink and kitchen sink drain lines running underground and tree roots in sewer line

Trees enhance curb appeal and work to shade your home in the summer, which helps with cooling costs. Tree roots, however, can spread into your sewer pipe or septic system and degrade their functionality. How do you know if tree roots are in your system, and what can you do to get rid of them without harming the environment? We’ve got your answers.

How Tree Roots Get into Your Septic System

Tree roots are always looking for moist nutrients, and your septic system is the perfect environment for them to seek out.

These are the entry points where tree roots most often enter your sewer line:

  • The lateral connection point where the city main connects to your home’s piping.

  • Cleanouts and T-fittings (a cleanout is a fitting typically installed at main elbows, the far end of the system, and where the system meets the municipality’s sewer system).

  • Between entry points covered by protective grease caps that are designed to protect these areas from tree roots but can fail over time.

  • Tiny cracks in the main line.

Tree roots that enter your sewer line or septic tank will spread in any direction and can grow up to 1 foot per day. Areas with high table levels near tree root bed areas are especially vulnerable because they force trees to look for sources of moisture that allow absorption of oxygen and water, which standing water won’t do.

Once in, tree roots cause significant damage by filling the space, causing clogs and slow drains that back up sewage into your home.

Signs You Have Tree Root Problems