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How Do Tree Roots Get Into Pipes?

September 22, 2022 | Blog

Although trees are beautiful and essential to your home’s curb appeal, they can also prove dangerous to your underground sewer line. By infiltrating the weak spots in your sewer pipes, tree roots have the potential to cause severe damage.

It can be tricky deciphering whether you have clogged pipes as they reside beneath your property line. However, at Mission AC & Plumbing, we’re equipped with the expertise and tools necessary to identify the problem or potential for one.

Tree Root Clogs And How They Happen

Unfortunately, sewer pipes are not indestructible. Cracks and loose joints leave them vulnerable to penetrating tree roots. As warm water travels through, vapors are released, snaking by these loose joints or small cracks and into the soil surrounding your pipes. Due to the moisture, tree roots begin growing toward the pipelines and, eventually, inside them.

Signs Of A Clogged Sewer Line

Slow drainage system

Water that is slow to drain is cause for concern. It can develop over time until it starts affecting multiple plumbing fixtures. Some examples include a slow-draining sink or bathtub.

Gurgling from toilets or bathtubs

When your toilet backs up, flushing may cause the water to bubble, producing a gurgling effect. To test if this is in response to a clogged drain, run the sink closest to your toilet for about a minute. If the toilet water continues to bubble, there’s a high possibility you have a clogged pipe.

Sewer odor

The primary reason tree roots are attracted to sewer pipes is water. Therefore, once the roots have located the water source inside your pipes, they continue to grow by absorbing large amounts of the wastewater that flows through them. This can emit a nasty sewer smell from your drains.

Other Common Causes of Clogs


We’re not talking about foggy weather! FOG stands for fats, oils and greases. Slimy substances like these solidify when cooled inside your pipes, coating the edges and creating blockages.

You should avoid pouring cooking grease and other oily products down your drain. The best way to discard leftover cooking oil is to let it cool and then transfer it into a container or bag to toss.


Many household items commonly flushed down the toilet are not exactly “flushable.” Although companies market bathroom wipes as such, you should never flush them down your toilet.

Along with wipes, you should always dispose of items such as paper towels and feminine products in your trashcan only. These items do not dissolve in water like toilet paper. In fact, they don’t break down at all and can build up inside your pipes. Therefore, it’s best practice only to flush down toilet paper.


Hair is another clog culprit. Bathroom fixtures such as showers and sinks are most susceptible to catching falling strands, which can knot up or wrap around your drain, creating a clog. If you or someone in your home has longer hair, it may be worth investing in a hair catcher for your drains to prevent such a clog.

Prevention Tips

It’s easy to be mindful of what you’re sending down your drains. However, most of the time, tree root infestations are out of your control. To prevent a situation, avoid planting trees close to your sewer line. Our professionals can help you locate where your underground pipes lay so that you can strategically plant your trees away from them.

If you’re concerned that you may have a clog or just want to check the condition of your pipes, we can also perform a sewer camera inspection to identify if and where the issue lies. A camera examination can also help determine whether your pipes need replacing.

Schedule An Inspection Today!

Whether you’re experiencing the early signs of a clogged pipeline or a severe sewage backup, don’t wait to call a professional. Book an appointment with one of our expert Houston plumbers to rectify the problem and ensure your sewer line is fully functional.


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