Many homeowners worry about finding “scary” tree roots in their home’s sewer lines. While this can be a rather extensive (and sometimes expensive) situation, there are ways to find out whether there are tree roots growing in your sewage lines, as well as ways to fix the issue quickly should it arise. 

One of the first steps you should take if you’re worried tree roots are growing in your sewer line is contacting the sewer department to find out where the sewer lines are located in your yard. This will help determine whether the issue at hand is in an area near the sewer line or not. 

A good next step would be to contact a professional plumber who can perform a video pipe inspection to look at the issue closer and determine the best way to fix it, should they find any roots in the sewer line. 

Signs you may have tree roots in your sewer line 

Slow drains and noisy toilets
One of the most telltale signs of a sewer problem is a loud, gurgling toilet when flushing. If this happens, check to see if your drains are slow. If they are, even after attempting to unclog them, it’s time to contact a plumbing professional. 

Foul odors
Since we’re dealing with sewage, it stands to reason that there may be an unpleasant smell in the home should your sewer line have root damage. Usually, you’ll smell the odor outside of the home, near the sewer line itself. In some cases, however, you can detect the odor inside, especially if there are drain and toilet problems, too. 

Sink holes
If you suspect a sewer line issue, take a look around the yard for sink holes. These are a sign that roots have grown into the plumbing and are causing water leaks. If you see sink holes, it’s important to call a plumbing professional to fix the problem, otherwise it can lead to further damage to the yard and your home. 

How to remove tree roots from the sewer line  

There are several ways to remove tree roots from your sewer line, and a video pipe inspection is often the best way to determine the best method of treatment. 

Mechanically
One of the most popular methods of removing tree roots from your sewer line is with a mechanical auger that can dig into the sewer line and pull away the roots. 

Chemically
You can also treat and remove tree roots from sewer lines using chemicals like copper sulfate. It’s important to note that this method of treatment should be done by a professional because of the dangers of using this chemical compound. 

Foaming root killers
If you’ve detected root growth in its early stages, you may be able to eradicate the problem by using a foaming root killer that uses an herbicide to kills the growth and prevents new growth from occurring. You can find foaming root killers at your local home improvement store. 

Concerned you may have tree roots growing in your sewer line? Contact us at Allied Reddi-Rooter. We can schedule a $250 video pipe inspection to address and fix the problem promptly. 

Sometimes a call to the plumber is the result of something that’s completely out of your hands, like a burst pipe, a sewer line break or leak, or to install a new water heater or bathtub. But let’s face it, we’re human, and many of us have had to call a plumber for something we could have prevented.

We’re talking about clogged drains and pipes as a result of putting something down the drain or flushing an item down the toilet that’s better off being tossed in the garbage or recycling bin. 

To help you avoid the burden of unclogging a backed up sink or toilet on your own, or a call to the plumber, we’ve come up with a top ten list of items you should never put down a drain (or garbage disposal, for that matter). 

And the ten worst things to put down the drain are…  

  1. Cooking oils and butter 

Cooking oils, butters and margarine that are tossed down the drain when hot can congeal in the pipes. Eventually, this will make debris you send down drain stick to the pipe and eventually cause a blockage. This also happens when you pour animal fat (like bacon dripping) and vegetable fats like coconut oil down the drain. 

To dispose of fats safely, pour them in a metal container (like a coffee tin), cover, and throw away. The verdict is out whether to reuse fats or not. While they may not be good for the waistline, grease and oils are definitely not good for the drain. 

  1. Egg shells 

These belong in the compost bin. The reason? Eggshells are very hard on garbage disposal blades and even small pieces of eggshell can collect in pipes and cause a blockage. 

  1. Coffee grinds 

The biggest issue with putting coffee grounds down the drain is that they won’t break down in water. Since they aren’t water soluble, in time remaining grounds in the drain will clump together and cause a clog. Coffee grinds are best left for the compost pile. 

  1. Rice and pasta

Both semolina and rice will swell when flushed down the drain and will cause blockage. While newer types of pasta made with rice or vegetables (usually gluten-free pasta) may be slightly better for drains, we advise against putting this type of pasta down the drain, too. The same goes for most types of rice including brown and arborio rice. 

  1. Produce stickers 

Make sure to peel any produce stickers off your fruits and veggies and discard them so they don’t end up in the drain. The stickers can adhere to the sides of pipes and can even damage the water filters at your city water treatment center.    

  1. Medication 

It’s critical that you take any unused or expired prescription medications back to the pharmacy. Most wastewater treatment systems don’t have the ability to filter out medications which can end up in rivers and lakes. This not only contaminates the water, it can be dangerous to fish and all water wildlife. 

  1. Sanitary napkins and tampons 

Most people know that sanitary napkins aren’t flushable, but tampons aren’t either.  Sanitary napkins are simply too thick to be flushed down toilets and will almost instantly cause a blockage. They aren’t biodegradable either, so they’ll pollute water if they don’t clog the pipes first. 

Tampons, as well as their wrappers, are not flushable, and most manufacturers note this on tampon boxes, but they are often still the cause of toilet clogs. Tampons will expand in water, which makes it easier for them to get stuck in pipes.   

  1. Flushable wipes, cotton balls and paper towels

Like sanitary napkins, flushable wipes including baby wipes, facial wipes, are too heavy and thick to be flushable. Eventually, they’ll get stuck and cause a pretty significant clog in the drain. Consider this: toilet paper will disintegrate completely within 24 hours. When a wipe is flushed down the toilet, it can take weeks for it breaks down. Then, as each wipe gets flushed down the toilet, they accumulate to cause a big clog. 

  1. Cat litter 

If you think flushable cat litter is too good to be true, you’re right. Not only can large clumps of cat feces coated in clay or a biodegradable material like corn, wheat, or walnut shells, clog toilets, flushing cat droppings down the toilet can allow a parasite called toxoplasma gondii to enter the water supply, and that can cause toxoplasmosis in humans. 

  1. Bleach

Because bleach is a toxic substance, you should never pour it down a drain. Doing so can cause the bleach to mix with different substances in your pipes which can result in toxic fumes. 

Remember: If you’re concerned an item may clog a drain, it probably will. When in doubt, throw it in the garbage can. Keep this top ten list handy, and get in the habit of never flushing these items down the drain. 

 

In our 1920’s vintage home, we’re at peace with our vintage plumbing: everything above ground is new-ish; everything underground is cast iron, rusty, and likely broken in places that we can’t see. After 20+ years of peaceful coexistence, our basement drain recently decided to take our relationship to a new level. It burped up a wave of sewer gas that we could not ignore. Our beloved basement man-cave had become too stinky to enjoy.

What is Sewer Gas?
According to Wikipedia, “sewer gas is a complex mixture of toxic and nontoxic gases produced and collected in sewage systems by the decomposition of [sewage].” The actual gas portion may include hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, methane, esters, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. The stinky part is typically the hydrogen sulfide component.

Although unpleasant, common sewer gas smells from a basement drain are in low enough concentrations that they are generally not toxic. On the flip side, if one was compelled to enter the sewer for a closer look at the source of sewer gas, the chances of sewer gas poisoning are high. Tip: Stay out of the sewers.

How Does Sewer Gas Enter a Home?
Bad News: If you have a sewer gas issues, something is wrong. According to the “www.marionoh.us” web site, “the most common fault in the plumbing system is untrapped drains, especially floor drains in the basement or utility room.” Examining your floor drains for dry or damaged drain traps is a good starting point. If floor drains are seldom used, the water barrier that sits in the U-shaped trap can evaporate over time, letting sewer gas seep into your home. If you suspect this is the issue, pour a few gallons of water into the floor drain to re-fill the trap with water.

If the smells persist, it’s possible the drain line/drain tile is damaged. A reputable plumber can assist in identifying the source of the sewer gas.

How Do You Get Rid of Sewer Gas?
In our case, our cast iron basement floor drain had rusted away (it’s over 90 years old). We installed a new, PVC trap (available from the big-box hardware store) and filled it with water, to create the water barrier in the trap itself. We’re a month into the repair and the new PVC trap seems to be working well. We were lucky – we rarely use our floor drain and we could see that the trap had rusted through. The repair was straightforward and a good fit for a DIY approach.

Water You Waiting For?
If you are noticing sewer gas smells in your around your floor drains, an inspection by a trained plumber is worthwhile. Ray and his team of plumbing professionals are at the ready and there’s never a service fee just to come to your home. Call today for more information – (513) 396-5300. If repairs are required, discount coupons may apply – visit our website for details: http://alliedreddirooter.com/.