7 Sewer Problems Only a Sewer Camera Can Find

Roots in the sewer line are a critical issue that leads to various inconveniences starting from slow draining of water to sewage leaks. So, before you find a major problem, you can identify possible pipeline damages using sewer cameras. These are waterproof cameras attached to a flexible cable that can pass through the sewer pipes. The radio transmitters in the cameras can record the location of the problem detected. So, sewer camera inspection saves you from unnecessary excavation in finding the block.

roots in sewer lines

Signs of a Damaged Sewer Line

It is not hard to find that something is wrong with your pipelines, especially the sewer. The signs are obvious and easily identifiable. Here are some of the signs of roots invading the sewer and water lines.

Unexpected Increase in Water Bills

Sometimes you get unexpectedly high water bills that you have never gotten in the past. This could be an indication that something could be wrong with the pipelines. Damaged water or sewer lines cause broken pipes that leak continuously. 

Slow Draining of Sink

If you notice that the water in your sink and shower drains slower, it is the first sign that something is blocking the drainage. Check the sewer lines for possible invasions of roots since this might be the cause.

Sinkholes in the Yard

Your lawn could have soft spots and visible sinkholes caused by leaking pipelines. Sinkholes emit a pungent odor that lingers in the area until the problem is solved. Constant water leakage causes the soil to settle, which threatens the structural integrity of the house. 

Gurgling Noise in the Drain

You might also find gurgling sounds coming from the drain whenever you take a shower or wash something in the sink. It’s the blocked drains that cause these strange noises as water moves through obstacles in the pipeline.

Bad Smell From the Drain

An unpleasant odor coming from the drain is another red flag that gives away issues in the sewer line. This happens when rots invade the sewer lines and trap the waste without allowing it to pass along. The smell gets worse if the waste accumulates in blockages.

Toilet Blocks

Another sign of sewer line problems is when you experience frequent toilet blockages. This can be due to damages to the sewer line if inappropriate items are flushed down the toilet.

Sudden Low Water Pressure

Unexpected low water pressure in the house water supply could also be due to roots blocking the drain. You need to get a professional to inspect the water lines and determine the issue.

roots in sewer lines

What Are the Problems That Only a Sewer Camera Can Find?

Not all sewer problems are easy to find. Some problems can only be detected by passing a sewer camera. The following are some of these sewer line issues that need immediate attention. 

1. Pipe Clogs

This is one of the most common sewer problems faced by most homeowners. Pipe clogs may seem easy to fix simply by passing a snake to clear off the clogs. But this could damage the sewer line instead of pushing the waste. So, it’s important to find the exact location and cause of the block to fix it. Only a sewer camera can precisely diagnose the problem. Then the plumber can fix it easily and prevent it from recurring.

2. Tree Roots

This is the most common problem for homeowners with trees in the yard. Tree roots tend to invade the pipelines made of cast iron, clay, or any other porous materials. The roots penetrate through the cracks in pipes in search of water. Then they grow inside the pipes, causing blocs. Fixing this issue takes a lot of time, money, and labor as it’s not easy to find the location of the block. Flexible sewer cameras can pass through the pipes to find the block. This is the only way to diagnose the problem without digging up the sewer line.

3. Cracked Pipes

Broken or cracked sewer pipes leak untreated waste into the ground. This causes the whole area to smell bad and it’s very unhygienic for the environment. In case you have a similar situation, the first way to deal with this is through camera inspection. It will show you whether the pipes are cracked or damaged.

4. Collapsed Pipelines

Old pipelines can collapse over time as the materials decay underground. The most suitable way to find this is by using a camera. The plumber will inspect the line through the camera to find whether the pipeline is collapsed and, if so, the location.

5. Sagging Pipes

When parts of the pipeline sag and curve downwards, it hinders the normal flow. Once the sewer line bellies, it causes blockages and even leaks waste. This can be a major issue in sewer lines if not detected at the right time. Plumbers will pass a camera through the line to identify sags and corrosion.

6. Blocks

There is a higher chance of waste building up inside when using sewer lines for many years. This cannot be detected by physical inspection of the pipeline. Only a sewer camera can locate the issue inside. Once the problem is diagnosed, the plumber can take the necessary steps to clean it out.

7. Rusting Pipes

Metallic sewer pipes tend to rust with time especially if they are exposed to moisture underground. They corrode and crack, causing sewer leaks. So, it is important to detect corrosions beforehand to replace the pipes. 

roots in sewer lines

How to Get Rid of Roots in Sewer Line

If root invasions are the case of sewer blocks in your home, you can try removing them yourself. There are some DIY methods that you can attempt without calling over a plumber. But if these solutions do not solve the issue, you need to get professional support.

Rock Salt

Rock salt absorbs moisture from roots which will eventually kill them due to loss of water. You can easily find rock salt at a local store or purchase it online. Rock salt is safe for use in septic systems. You will need about 2 pounds of rock salt for this. First, put about half a pound into the toilet and flush it several times to get it down the drain. Continue this until you flush all the 2 pounds and leave it for about 12 hours without using the toilet or flushing any more water. This should remove the clog after the said time, and if not, you should consult a plumber.

Foaming Root Killers

Pour the powder into the toilet and flush it. This causes foam as the powder contacts water. This is an effective solution that clears blockages with dichlobenil, which is a root-killing agent. It also prevents the growth of roots in sewer lines in the future. Flush some foaming root killer down the toilet about once a month to keep the problem from occurring again.

Copper Sulfate

You can find copper sulfate at local home improvement stores and use it as a root killer for the pipelines. Pour about half a cup of copper sulfate crystals down the toilet and flush it a few times to pass it in. Leave the house with everyone, including pets, for a few hours. This is because the toxicity of copper sulfate can kill animals. Since the use of copper sulfate is banned in certain regions, check this with the local codes before use.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take for Tree Stumps to Naturally Decompose?

Tree stumps decompose with the effect of natural chemical reactions. It takes around 3 – 5 years for tree stumps to decay naturally. The actual time taken for the process depends on the type of tree, environmental conditions, and climate. If the stump is cut lower, it will rot quicker than when cut above.

How to Avoid Tree Roots Getting Into the Sewer Line?

Here are a few things you can do to prevent roots from getting into sewer lines:

  • Replace old pipes before they corrode and leak. Plastic pipes are resistant to corrosion, and they also don’t have vulnerable joints or seams.
  • Check the drains and pipelines frequently using sewer inspection cameras. Routine inspection once every six months will help detect any unusual conditions. 
  • The best precautionary step is to avoid planting trees in the wrong place. Plant them away from the sewer lines as much as possible. This lessens the risk of root infiltration to the pipelines.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix Roots in a Sewer Line?

If you simply need to remove the roots only, it will cost between $100 and $200. More serious repairs and replacements will cost over $700. Fixing damages caused by tree roots in a sewer line can cost something from $100 to a few thousand dollars. 


Plumbing problems are very often visible only when it starts to leak. Getting a professional to handle the situation is the best when it comes to blocked sewer pipes. They will pass a camera to detect blocks and roots in sewer line. This saves you from having to pay for misdiagnosed plumbing issues and unnecessary excavation. Remove the roots permanently to prevent critical issues such as water backing up and sinkholes in the yard.