If you have tree roots that grow into sewer drain pipes, you have a serious problem. Roots find cracks in the lines and sense the water vapor that is leaking into the soil. Because roots seek out water, they grow toward it and make their way into the pipes. They expand as they mature and cause blockages and backups in your sewer system. If they are not disturbed, the roots will completely fill the pipe. To keep roots from growing in sewer drain pipes, you need to be smart about where you plant trees. If roots still manage to reach the sewer tank, there are some things you can do to fix the problem.
Find out where the sewer lines are around your home. A plumber can assess the situation before planting. You can also get a good idea by looking at the trees and estimating the root growth to be 2.5 times the height of the tree.
Plant a tree that has a smaller, non-aggressive root system. These include crabapple, scarlet oak, white oak, cherry tree and dogwood. Do not plant trees such as pine, maple and willow near septic systems. Measure before planting and make sure to put the tree far enough away from sewer lines so the roots can grow without hitting the pipes.
Install a root barrier to protect sewer drain pipes from tree roots. They resemble panels and are available nurseries. Dig 3 feet from the septic system to a depth of at least 5 feet. Put the panels in the ground and cover them with soil.
Use chemicals to kill roots that have already grown into sewer drain pipes. Pour drain-cleaning products containing copper sulfate down the bathroom drains. Do this in the spring and fall to break up the clogs caused by roots.
Place fabric or rubber that is filled with the chemical trifluralin between the tree roots and pipes. The chemical is inside time-release pellets. To accomplish this, you have to dig until you find the spot where the roots have grown into the drain pipes. Insert the fabric along the side of the drain pipes, following manufacturer instructions.
Call a plumber to replace the sewer drain pipes or patch cracks. This will keep water from escaping, but it's an expensive proposition.