Believe it or not, tree roots can do serious damage to your septic system. Tree roots will grow in the direction of moisture. They tend to be attracted to the damp environments inside the pipes that lead from your home to your septic tank, and they can actually grow through small cracks in the pipes or through pipe joints that have not been completely sealed. Once a tree root wriggles its way into your septic system, it will continue to grow. Oftentimes, since they are fueled by the moisture of the septic system, these roots will grow so large that they can actually restrict water flow. If left unaddressed, this can cause serious issues.
So, what are the signs that you have a tree root problem with your septic system? Be sure to keep an eye out for the following:
Fixtures That Do Not Drain Properly
Once tree roots start to restrict the water flow in your septic system, you will likely begin to notice problems with drainage in your home. This might include sink drains that drain very slowly and slow-flushing toilets.
Patches of Green in the Leach Field
Depending on the location of the root incursion, you may start to notice noticeably greener vegetation above your septic system. This typically happens when roots begin to block the distribution pipes in the leach field, and water subsequently begins to leak out of the leach field and into the surrounding soil. The wastewater that leaks out, though a major hazard to human health, is actually very nutrient-rich and a great fertilizer for plants. As a result, any grass, shrubbery, or groundcover is likely to become noticeably greener.
A wet lawn near your septic tank is yet another indication that your septic system pipes may be leaking as a result of a root incursion. Whenever you have a severe blockage – whether caused by roots or another factor – the water ends up with nowhere to go, and subsequently leaks out back into the lawn. A “spongy” lawn (especially if it has not rained recently) or pools of wastewater are definitely an indication that you need to get your system checked out.
The bottom line is that tree root damage to your septic system can be a hassle – not to mention costly to repair. Your best bet is to try to mitigate the risk of any root incursions in the first place, ideally by avoiding planting any trees in the vicinity of the system. And if you do suspect any tree root damage to your septic system, you should call in a professional for a repair as soon as possible.