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The cause of clogged sewer lines are usually tree roots as they can penetrate the pipes and clog them up. If you ignore the problem of clogged pipes, you may need to shell out large amounts of money to fix a complete sewer system by excavating and replacing the pipes. As we all know that prevention is better than cure, so here is the checklist of things you need to do in order to avoid costly excavation of your yard.
Find where your sewer line is
The best prevention is knowing your sewers before you decide to plant a tree. Firstly, ask the previous owner about it, whose contact you can find on the deed and municipal tax records. On the other hand, ask your neighbours if they know something about the issue. If that does not help, check with your building office in your municipality. The final two solutions include digging: the first involves locating a septic tank and the second includes digging where the drain line exits your house.
Go for the right trees
Even though any tree can damage your sewer as roots look for the condensed water on the pipe walls, you can choose the so-called sewer-friendly trees with shallow roots. The trees you can consider planting in your yard include: crepe myrtle, boronia, myrtle wattle, coast banksia, Italian cypress, sweet olive, Virginia pine, prickly Moses, daisy bush, small crowea, grevillea, heath, westringia and gingko.
Plant the trees away from the sewer line
Trees may be placed away from the sewer line and still invade your pipes. Generally speaking, roots extend up to 2 2/1 times the height of the trees. Sometimes, you may come across the species extending 5-7 times of its height. So, it is extremely important to know which species you plant. If a tree you want is not on the list of the sewer-friendly ones, ask the specialist in the store about its roots.
Use a root killer
“All root killers are based on the same principle: they are flushed down the toilet and they kill roots the moment its chemical properties come in contact with the pipes”, claims an experienced Sydney-based plumber. Some of the commonly used chemicals are copper sulphate and potassium hydroxide.
Additionally, you can use rock salt known as sodium chloride. Flush 200g of salt down the drain. Place another 200g into the toilet and flush again. Repeat the process until you spend 1kg of salt. Do not use the toilet for the next 12h.
Use a root barrier
Apart from chemical root killers, you can opt for root barriers. They come in different materials and each one of them has its advantages and disadvantages. The barriers made of fiberglass and plastic are effective, but they can prevent water from draining properly. Permeable barriers consist of a mesh through which water and small roots pass through. You can use them if you deal with large roots. The best type is a solid/permeable barrier with root-inhibiting chemicals on it.
Call a professional
If you tried all of these solutions to fix a clogged sewer line and you still have problems with your pipes, you should definitely call a professional plumber. The signs to help you know your drain line is clogged are: some kind of a gurgling noise in your drain and toilet, sewer odour, water backup out of a basement floor drain, flooding and sewage backup.
To sum up, the first thing you can do if you notice your pipes are clogged is to use a chemical root killer and a root barrier if you have a young tree. Before you plant a new tree, make sure you know where your main sewer line is. Estimate the possible root length in order to choose the right spot for a tree. If you have older trees in the yard and chemicals are of no use, call a plumber.