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Getting to the Root of the Problem

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If you’ve noticed that your sink, tub or toilet are taking a long time to drain, you may have tree roots in your sewer lateral line.  Your sewer lateral is the smaller sewer pipe that takes waste from your house to the District’s larger main sewer line.  Sewer lateral lines are full of things tree roots love to absorb like water, nutrients and oxygen.  Once tree roots make their way into sewer lines, they continue to grow and expand.  The roots catch any solids flowing out in the sewage, creating blockages that make it difficult for the sewage to flow from your home to the main sewer line.

You can prevent blockages and damaged pipes, and avoid expensive repairs, by taking a few preventative measures:

  • Contact a licensed plumber for a sewer line inspection.
  • Be aware of frequent, unexplained clogs, backed up and slow drains, and gurgling sounds coming from toilets and floor drains.
  • Do not plant trees near sewer lines.  If you do, select slow-growing trees with a small root area.
  • Sewer line barriers can be buried vertically next to the sewer pipe to prevent tree roots from reaching pipes.

Before doing any digging in your yard, always call your local utility or the national 811 “Call Before You Dig” number to find the location of your sewer line and other utilities.

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