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How Tree Roots Can Destroy Your Septic System

Roots growing around septic

Why Are Septic Systems Susceptible to Root Intrusion?

When maintaining a healthy septic system, homeowners must be vigilant of tree roots. They might seem harmless initially, but they can potentially wreak havoc on a septic system.

Septic systems are buried underground, often near trees and shrubs, making them vulnerable to root invasion. Also, because roots seek the nearest source of nutrients and water, the chance of roots growing towards your system is high.

Furthermore, unlike city sewage systems that are often made of tough, industrial materials resistant to roots, the components of a residential septic system are more vulnerable. This is especially true of older septic systems with pipes made from clay or concrete.

Three major root intrusion-related septic issues are:

  1. Blocked flow: Roots grow into pipes through tiny cracks or joints and obstruct the flow of wastewater.
  2. Broken components: Over time, the strength of growing tree roots can break pipes apart, damage the tank, or disrupt the drain field.
  3. System contamination: Compromised septic systems can lead to untreated waste leaking into the surrounding environment, posing a significant health hazard.

Signs of Root Intrusion in Your Septic System

Tree roots can be incredibly destructive. However, this problem is insidious. You may go years thinking everything is fine until you suddenly have a major problem. Because of this, those who have property on a septic system must make themselves aware of the subtle signs of root intrusion.

Signs that your septic system might be experiencing root intrusion include:

  • Slow drainage in sinks, showers, and toilets
  • Gurgling sounds from your plumbing
  • Soggy areas or unexplained lush spots in your yard
  • Unpleasant odors outdoors
  • Frequent backups or overflows

Repairing Root Intrusion Damage

When dealing with root-related problems, working with a professional is highly recommended. Failing to consult a seasoned septic repair specialist risks exacerbating the situation, leading to more costly repairs down the line and potentially causing severe environmental contamination. Our professional septic plumbers have the background knowledge, experience, and tools required to assess and repair the damage that tree roots can cause.

Methods that may be used to mitigate root intrusion issues include:

  • Mechanical removal: This involves cutting roots that have found their way inside the pipes.
  • Chemical treatments: Root-killing agents can prevent the regrowth of roots after removal but must be used judiciously to avoid environmental damage.
  • Whole-system replacement: In cases where the damage is extensive, parts of the septic system may require replacement.

When Replacement Is Necessary

Replacing the system may be necessary if the root damage is severe and compromises the entire septic system's function. Repeated clogs, extensive pipe damage, or a failing drain field are indicators that more than repairs are required.

Preventing Root Intrusion

At Wind River Environmental, we believe in taking proactive steps to maintain septic system health. Learning how to prevent root damage is your critical first step to avoid the significant expense and hassle of repairs or replacement.

Our top three ways to avoid root intrusion in your septic system:

  1. Plant trees and large shrubs away from your septic system.
  2. Choose plants that have shallow root systems.
  3. Regularly inspect and maintain your septic system to catch problems early.

However, if you suspect your system may be a victim of root intrusion already, don't wait until it's too late.

Schedule a septic inspection with us right away. Whether you are a residential homeowner or a commercial property manager, we are here to help.