Are roots causing my sewer line to keep backing up?

sewer line tree root problem

We get a lot of calls from people who feel they are always experiencing sewer line back ups. If you are one, you may be wondering if roots are causing your sewer line to back up. It is very possible.

There are certain times of the year when roots are more likely to grow into sewer lines- that is spring and fall. Sewer line roots growth is the only clog causer that can be helped with preventative maintenance. Let me explain that further in this illustration:

Roots in sewer line or something else?

Judy is a new mom. She doesn’t think about what she is flushing and into the toilet goes feminine products, wipes, toilet paper and heavy amounts of paper. This clog can get stuck anywhere along the line, especially if she has a low flush toilet that doesn’t have a bunch of water to really help move all the flushed items through.

If Judy does all these same things AND has roots in her sewer line, she will likely experience a sewer back up. The roots are also looking for water, so they are reaching to the bottom of the sewer line, creating a net, or strainer of sorts. When this debris is attempting to pass through, it gets caught. It continues to catch debris coming down the pike.

The sewer line preventative maintenance will get rid of the roots that are catching the debris. If there is debris in the line, it will also push that through. The roots will be gone for 3-18 months (depending on the aggressiveness of the roots), but the waste could cause a back up the next day if Judy continues to flush excessive products down the line.

Where are the tree roots?

I like to explain to people that their sewer line is like a tree. If the sewer line is the trunk, the secondary lines are like the branches. The ‘trunk’ runs about 100 feet in most Denver locations, but can run 80-over 200 feet in some cases. This trunk goes from under your house’s foundation out to the city sewer line. People on a septic system will have a line that goes from their house to the pit and this is sometimes referred to as a lateral line. The scenario given applies to both types of lines. These lines are typically 4” (four inches) in diameter.

The branches then are secondary lines. These are typically 2” (two inch) lines and run from a bathtub, sink, washer, etc., anyplace where there is a point of use for the plumbing. These drains run towards the sewer line and the sewer line runs to the city main.

Clogs can happen at any place along the system- in branches, the trunk or both. Roots, will only be in the sewer line, except in extremely rare cases when they could get into a secondary line due to poor plumbing code.

If you have mature trees on your or your neighbor’s property, it is possible their roots are the culprit for your regular sewer line back ups. A sewer line cleaning will troubleshoot what the problem is as the technician will be able to determine whether the cause is roots or other debris.


Call Garvin’s Sewer Service today at 303-571-5114 to get your sewer line cleaning scheduled to prevent another sewer line back up due to roots.