If your sewer lines were built before the 1980s, they might be particularly susceptible to tree root interference. Older pipes were generally constructed from vitreous clay tile, which is a great material for transporting water and has been used for that purpose since the Romans incorporated it into their aqueducts. Vitreous clay tile is very strong and deteriorates very slowly so that the pipes last a long time. Unfortunately, this ancient hero of the world of water delivery systems has a one fatal flaw: the clay pipes tend to let water leak out at the joints. Enterprising trees and shrubs are more than ready to take advantage of such a rich water source and will slowly dig their roots into the pipes through the joints, causing serious clogging problems in your pipes.

These clay pipes were widely used back in the late 1800s when the demand for indoor plumbing meant a demand for quick sewer installations. 2’ lengths were preferred though that was replaced by 3’ and 4’ lengths in the 1930s. This means that there are a lot of joints in old pipes which create opportunities for root infiltration. The older pipes were sealed with a variety of different materials—from concrete to tars—but all of those sealants deteriorate over time, letting water escape which attracts the roots in the first place. In the 1980s, clay pipes were replaced with plastic pipes (either PVC or SDR) which have better joint sealing systems and cut down on the potential for root infiltration. If you have an older Denver home, though, with an older sewer line, you may be plagued with roots in your sewer lines.

When the lucky tree or shrub gets their roots into the pipe, they don’t stop there. The roots continue to grow bigger which spreads out the joint, leaking even more water into the ground. If the roots are allowed to grow unchecked, they will grow to the point that they actually break the clay pipe in their search for more water. While small roots only filter out debris, when they get larger they will completely clog your pipes altogether.

If we find that you have a root problem, we will suggest that you get it handled sooner rather than later. Unlike other pipe problems, root infiltration will continue to progress unless it is stopped since it’s caused by living organisms. We will give you solid recommendations for getting your line snaked out. The process can cost around $125-175 but it’s better to get rid of the problem early than to wait for it to get worse and the excavation and replacement of a pipe is a much more expensive operation. When you get a company to snake your pipes, you’ll want to make sure that they use a blade that is the same size as the diameter of the inner part of the sewer line. This way, you’ll get the most root removal possible for the price you’re paying. Make sure you use a company who offers a good warranty on their work. Also, beware of companies who will tell you to replace the line instead of just getting it snaked. At Safe Investment Sewer Inspections, LLC, we’re dedicated to giving you the real story about your sewer inspection. We’ll help you find a reliable company to fix your root problem and if you need a pipe replacement, we’ll tell you. If you don’t, we’ll help to make sure you get the solution that fits your needs—no more and no less.