Thirsty tree roots blamed for damaging home sewer lines

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The extreme drought from this summer is creating a potential problem underground for homeowners

Experts blame tree roots, thirsty for water in this drought season, for growing into sewer lines of older homes.

"What I've noticed is that we've been doing exponentially more sewer repairs and sewer line backups this year than in other years and I attribute it mostly to the drought," Bobby Hamilton, of Bob Hamilton Plumbing, said. 

Hamilton said homes most at risk at those built before the early 80's when builders used clay pipes. Tree roots grow toward sewer lines searching for water.   Newer homes are built with plastic pipes which eliminate tree root problems.

Several weeks ago while doing laundry, Justin DeNegri discovered water backing up in his basement.  He called the plumber and discovered the problem was tree roots growing into his sewer line. 

"Their explanation was that basically this is a huge problem, not only for my case but throughout the city," DeNegri said.

 A plumber removed the clog at DeNegri's home by snaking the line.  It is an inexpensive fix but he worries he may just be buying time. 

"As those roots grow back in they are going to be stronger and that is going to cause for probably more problematic issues in the future,"  DeNegri said.

As a homeowner, you can have your home sewer lines inspected.  If a problem is discovered, you can plan out the solution before it becomes a serious problem.

Before buying a home, Hamilton said it is a good idea to have the lines inspected.  It costs around $100.  An inspection could help you avoid a bigger problem later.

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