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Roots in my Septic System

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Roots in septic system

Tree roots are a common cause of septic system failure. Let’s consider some situations where roots will, or will not, affect your septic system.

There are two main parts to a conventional septic system, both of which can fall victim to the perils of tree roots: the tank and the drain field.

Septic Tank

Your tank’s biggest and most common vulnerability to tree roots is through the access lid, although roots may also enter the tank through the inlet or outlet pipes, or through the seams of the tank. If your septic system is properly maintained, roots can be identified, cut and removed during septic tank cleaning. These small feeder roots, addressed promptly, usually do not create a problem that affects the workability of the system. But when the tank is never cleaned, or there is a long period between cleanings, the roots may grow excessively. Larger roots can cause adverse effects if they are not controlled. Roots entering through the inlet or outlet pipes usually result in a need for pipe replacement.

Septic Drain Field

Roots can enter the drain field through the perforated pipe designed to allow liquids to seep. While roots may penetrate a drain field, a system can still function if the roots are not completely suffocating the pipe. Roto-rooter servicing can help clear drain field pipe of roots, but the result will be temporary as the roots will grow back. Sometimes the drain field cannot be roto-rootered because the roots are too thick or the roto-rooter won’t reach all the pipes of the drain field.

Copper sulfate can be injected into the drain field (past the tank) to kill roots. However, the full effects of copper sulfate on trees and other foliage is unknown so this can be a risky endeavor.

If drain field pipes become so filled with roots that liquids cannot flow through the pipe or out of the perforations, the system will no longer function and the pipes usually will need to be replaced. If regulations have changed since the original system was installed, a whole new system may be required.

If you haven’t cleaned your tank in the past 3-5 years, call us for a free quote today! We will check for roots inside your tank as part of your septic tank cleaning at no extra charge!


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