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Mature trees take up as much space underground as they do above ground, and over time, trees can do substantial damage to your sewer connection. In their search for water, tree roots can crush your home’s sewer connection, causing sewage leaks and backups in and around your Boston home. While most sewer lines are susceptible to damage from tree roots, other things can cause damage to your sewer line, allowing tree roots to invade more easily.

Often, the first sign of trouble is a sewage backup inside the home. Raw sewage can back up into the basement and appliances, leaving a hazardous mess to clean up. Tree roots represent a serious problem, and one that’s not going to be resolved by adding a chemical to the sewer line.

Tree roots usually invade from the top of the sewer line, while wastewater flows in the bottom of the pipe, rarely filling it to capacity for more than a few seconds. Chemical additives will never reach the roots that are causing your sewer problems. Some foaming agents fill the sewer pipe and kill the tree roots they contact. This will only provide temporary relief. The tree will keep sending roots into the damaged sewer line.

If tree roots have invaded the sewer line of your Boston home, you’ll need to respond not only to the immediate problem – a clogged sewer line – but also to the long-term issue of new root growth, as well as the damage to the sewer line itself.

Mechanical removal of the obstruction will clear the sewer line immediately and allow bio-hazardous materials to flow freely into the sewer system. If this is the only step you take, however, you can be sure that the tree roots will grow back very soon.

You’ll also want to assess the damage to the sewer line. Badly broken lines will allow waste materials from your home to escape into the surrounding soil without ever reaching the sewer line. This can cause problems if the break is near the foundation of your home, or under the driveway, sidewalk or another structure.

The professionals at Boston Standard Plumbing can help you determine the location and extent of the damage. Complete repair may entail replacing the sewer connection or placing a protective shield over the broken line. It may also be necessary to poison the soil around the pipe with copper sulfate or a similar compound to prevent the tree roots from invading the line again.

If you’ve experienced a sewage backup in your home, your first step should be to contact the Boston Water and Sewer Commission, the sewer authority in Boston. They will determine (usually at no cost to the homeowner) whether the breach is on your side of the sewer connection or the utility’s side. BWSC also offers a one-time financial assistance program to homeowners and commercial property owners to help offset the cost of replacing a sewer connection. To receive this one-time aid, the problem must meet certain conditions.

If the damage to the line is on your side of the connection, contact Boston Standard Plumbing. We are fully licensed and bonded, and provide 24-hour service for plumbing emergencies. We can help you correct major problems with your Boston home’s main drain.
Photo Credit: Aaron Escobar, via Flickr

DIY Blog, DIY Plumbing

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