Roots are one of the most common causes of drain blockages. One would assume that roots would be a summer problem, but in reality, roots are constantly on a lookout for water and nutrients, exactly what is flowing in drain lines.
Roots won’t grow through healthy PVC pipes, but they will grow through other pipes, such as clay and cast iron, as they degrade. Once moisture escapes a degraded pipe, the roots will find their way into the pipe, causing blockages and further degrading the pipe.
Once roots are found in the pipe, they will always return. The pipe will eventually have to be replaced, but this expense can usually be pushed off for several years. At first, you may only need a cleaning once every 2 years. As time passes, you will need more frequent cleanings. Once drains need a cleaning more frequently than every 6 months, it is a good time to replace the line.
The only way to prevent root intrusion is to plant trees and shrubs away from the sewer pipe. This is also a good idea because eventually the pipe will need to be replaced. It may be 30 years from now, but it would be a shame to have to cut down that beautiful Maple tree in the yard to replace the sewer line (and think of the added expense!).
While there are products on the market claiming to stop tree root growth, they are often harmful to the environment and often don’t even slow the problem. Rather than wasting money on these products, it is best to plan out a maintenance plan and eventual line replacement.