Roots: A Common Cause of Septic System Failure

March 4, 2020

There are plenty of ways a septic system can suffer damage, overflow or leak, and wayward roots is one of the most common ones. If you have roots in or around your septic system, you should have a plumber or septic system professional inspect your system at once—if your tank is allowed to leak, harmful disease-causing bacteria could be allowed to leach into the groundwater supply.

Here are some of the ways roots can harm your septic system.

Roots in the septic tank

Tree roots can enter the septic tank in a variety of ways. Usually we see them enter through the access lid, but they can also come through seams or inlet and outlet pipes. Generally, if you notice tree roots while your septic tank is being pumped, they can be trimmed away and probably won’t cause any real damage. The problem is when the tank is either not cleaned regularly, or the root invasion happens right after cleaning.

Large roots can create a lot of damage, and if they enter through the pipes, you might need to replace the pipes entirely, which is an expensive and time-consuming process.

Roots in your septic drain field

When your drain field pipe is smothered by roots, that can cause different kinds of problems. As you may know, septic tanks allow water to seep into your drain field through a perforated pipe. If tree roots grow around or in the pipe, you can usually trim them away or clean them out, and the system will still function properly.

However, if the tree roots are allowed to smother the pipe, the water will have no way of getting into the drain field, which can cause your septic system to back up and flood the drain field or your home’s sinks, tubs and showers.

Some homeowners use copper sulfate to kill and dissolve tree roots in their system, but research isn’t clear as to what effects that might have on the soil and groundwater—we recommend avoiding this method.

Another way to avoid this problem is to remove all trees within 30 feet of your septic tank system. Tree roots spread out over great distances, so even the ones that look like they would be too far away to affect your underground system could still be causing trouble.

Ultimately, the best way to ensure your septic system stays root-free and in top working order is to pump your tank every three to five years, and keep a watchful eye out for signs of issues or damage.

Rooter Express is a premier plumbing contractor. We offer superior customer service, exceptional plumbing maintenance, installation and repair and the best prices in the area. Our family owned and operated business has been helping the area keep their pipes in working order for over 20 years. No matter what your plumbing and drain issues, we’re on call 24/7 to make sure you’re covered. Are you wondering, “Do I have roots in my septic system?” Call us today for service.

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