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Sewer Problems

Permanent solutions for roots in the sewer line of your Pueblo, Colorado area home.

Besides controlling the roots, replacing or rehabilitating the pipe is the most permanent solution, and with most circumstances you have multiple options here as well.

Once roots have found an opening in your sewer line they are tenacious in their effort to get nutrients and water through that opening.  No matter what you do to remove the roots these measures are temporary at best.  The most common approach to a permanent solution is to dig up the line and replace the old system whether it is clay, cast iron, or a failed PVC system.  In this process we take extreme care in protecting and preserving landscape and property, but obviously the location and depth of the line and in some cases concrete slabs and even some out buildings may prohibit or limit the ability to use this option.

Other options are lining or bursting systems that can replace the drain system with little or no digging at all.

Root damage inside the pipe

After lining of the pipe.

These option provides significant savings of time and money when landscape and patios are considered.  As always, with any of these options, the corrective action starts with a proper video
inspection of the existing system.  This is needed both to examine the condition of your system and to explore multiple options in providing solutions to your needs.

One final note, something we have noticed recently with some of the sewer line back up issues, is that some insurance policies have started to limit their liability towards the damage caused by sewer line back ups, especially if they are a result of root penetration into the pipe.  Some policies require a specific rider dealing with this, others have denied claims all together, based on the insureds “lack of maintenance.”  Because of the obvious costly nature of dealing with the clean up, the harmful bacteria, potential mold,  and just the water damage alone associated with such floods, checking with your insurance provider to go over your  coverage might be a good idea. Because of the expensive nature of a claim like this it would be better to be proactive than reactive when dealing with your insurance claim.

Patterson Plumbing & Heating has several options for  permanently solving root problems including the Perma-Liner sewer pipe re-lining system.  Call for us to evaluate your problem and possible solutions.  719-544-4922 or schedule on line at www.pattersonplumbing.com.

OK, You have roots in your Pueblo, Colorado area sewer line, now what?

OK, you have roots in your sewer line, now what?

There is a misconception on the part of many homeowners that believe having roots in their sewer line is normal, and that having a plumber or sewer and drain company come out and “clear” the line once or twice a year is to be expected.

Sorry to say, both of these are just not true.

  • First, homeowners should never look at roots in their sewer line as normal, it is a failure of the sewer system.
  • Second, having a plumber or sewer and drain contractor out to your home to “maintain”, or do regular maintenance, should not be necessary.  If your sewer pipe is water tight, as it should be, there will be no way for roots to penetrate it.
  • Third, snaking, or cabling the line will remove all the roots from the pipe, except for perfect circumstances cabling a line merely opens the pipe temporarily.

The problem with “clearing” a sewer pipe is that in order for the cable cutter to completely clear the line of all root intrusions a special root cutting tool needs to be used that is the same diameter as the interior of the pipe itself.  This blade needs to be the proper size so that the blades can hold tight to the interior wall of the pipe as it is inserted through, thus cutting these roots as it passes and allowing them to be washed down stream.

Issues arise when the access point into the sewer line for the cable is either smaller than the diameter of the main line pipe, as is the case when snaking the line from inside the house, or when the turns are too tight to allow for the cutter to maneuver around the fittings.

Usually when a snake is run from these lines a single cutter blade is used rather than the optimum size blade for the job.  In these cases, rather than cutting the roots the cable twists the roots up and pulls them away, breaking them off rather than actually cutting them ahead of the blade.  In such cases the roots are wrapped around the cable like spaghetti on a fork, and after so many roots are wrapped up on the cable it can then become stuck in the line, like a Chinese finger trap.  This allows the cable to move forward but not backward. This leads to the probability of sticking the cable in the line eventually breaking the cable and forcing the issue of digging up the line to retrieve the cable and roots.

In some cases if the root intrusions are small enough they can be controlled by chemicals put down the drain lines to kill or at least discourage root growth so they won’t be using your drain lines as a fast food joint.

I have heard some of the remedies that include but are not limited to flushing rock salt down the drain  or putting lye down the drain, and I’m sure there are many more.  Some advertised products that we have seen used are Copper Sulfate or Metam Sodium which are both harmful to the environment and to the bacteria/fungi, which normally decompose dead roots.  These two chemicals also have harmful effects on waste-water treatment plants.  They obviously can create some issues that I think may be worse than the roots themselves, and would probably have limited effect on the problem.  There are some products available that we have had some success with over the years.  Root-X is one of these products, it contains Sulfamic Acid which is widely used to feed and preserve waste-water treatment plant biology.  This product also has a foaming agent that allows it to expand in the pipe, coating the upper portion of the pipe, the area that usually has the most root penetrations.


However, no matter what one of these methods you use to control the root intrusion into your homes sewer line, one fact remains, the cracks or penetrations still exist and the roots will continue to grow and attack that weakness.


Read our next post for more permanent solutions to the problem.


If you have roots causing problems in your home’s sewer line you can always call Patterson Plumbing & Heating, Inc. at 719-544-4922 or schedule on line at www.pattersonplumbing.com.

How do tree roots get in sewer lines in the Pueblo, Colorado area?

Its fall, the leaves of the trees are changing, the nights are getting longer and cooler.  If you are like some home owners you may suffer from what could be another seasonal occurrence far more discouraging and damaging than fall; a backed up sewer.

Tree roots in sewer lines can be a common occurrence, especially if you have an older home that still has the original clay tile pipe used as the building drain from the house to the city main. Tree roots can infiltrate any line if there is an opening to penetrate through cracks or separation in joints, but clay lines have far more issues because of the methods used to join the sections, usually in 1-1/2 to – 2 feet in length.  Each joint would be placed with bald end into the hub of the next joint and filled with rope material, called oakum, and finished off by applying a good amount of thick mortar as a seal. Over time this method breaks down and allows the roots to penetrate these joints where the tree can access water and nutrients.  During fall and spring just before going into or out of dormant periods the tree tends to concentrate its growth below ground on it’s root system.  Although root problems can appear year round we note more service calls for roots during these times of year.

Tree Roots In Pueblo, Colorado Sewer Line PipeThe amount of roots that can work their way into the line can be quite dramatic if left unchecked, as you can see in this photo the roots have totally filled the line making it impossible for anything to pass through it, and impossible to clear without exposing the line and replacing the section of pipe.  That’s exactly what had to be done in this case, we had to excavate the line and replace it.  The PVC Pipe has been removed from the roots that have completely overtaken it.  The dark area is a perfect cast of the pipe formed by roots inside it.

Most cases are not this dramatic, but can still cause damage and back-ups to occur.

Even a small amount of roots create back up issues, usually the roots that penetrate the line are small and fine called feeder roots and can resemble long strands of hair that will lay in the line and absorb the water and nutrients as they flow by. Problems quickly arise when the roots start to impede the solids that also flow through the line on its way to the waste treatment plant. As these solids are held back by the roots the liquid waste for a time is allowed to continue on or seep through the crack in the line and be absorbed by the surrounding earth. Eventually the buildup of these solids becomes too great to let even the liquid pass through and the stoppage creates the back-up into the house that so many of our customers experience.

Many experience these root problems on a continual bases and have just come to expect the occasional backup as normal, and in a lot of cases a simple snake job will at least in the short term open the line and start the flow again, but if left unchecked these root intrusions can lead to more costly and damaging episodes, in future articles we can discuss  what options are available for a more permanent solution.

If you experience drain or sewer backups in your Pueblo, Colorado area home we can help, call 719-544-4922.