What to Do When Tree Roots Grow into a Septic Tank and Repairing Broken Risers

Recently, our septic pump failed and had to be replaced. Roots growing into the tank were causing damage to the septic system.

Here at Happy Haute Home, we talk about it all…the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is one of the not so attractive posts, but very important information for home owners living in the country.

Why Have a Septic Alarm?

We have had issues with our septic system since moving in 3 years ago. The alarm would frequently sound, sometimes in the middle of the night! The alarm is on the other side of our house and difficult to hear especially during night hours. I also worried about the alarm going off while we are on vacation – my solution – silence the alarm! Like forever! Ok not a great solution right?! The alarm is there for a reason and turning it off is a big no no.

What is a Septic System?

If you live in the city, you don’t have to deal with septic tanks and the issues that come along with them. Being on a public sewer system is nice. Up until 5 years ago..I never had to think about sewers either…but it’s one of the joys of country living 😉

8RjPKpWrQFilO891BmPEgALet me explain why this issue “stinks”. A septic tank is a large, underground concrete container that is used mainly in suburban and rural homes as a personal sewage facility. Household waste water from toilets and drains travels through pipes and enters one end of the tank. The waste water decomposes through bacterial activity before exiting the tank’s opposite end and moving into a filtration process.

mQsIzp+tQiiVAMcoNKUFIQSeptic systems take up a large portion of land, and are often located close to tree roots and other underground vegetation. Tree roots are attracted to the water in a septic tank, and they enter the tank through its drainpipes or cracks in its concrete, creating blockage and other potentially hazardous problems. You can see tree roots at the bottom of our tank in the above picture.

When Tree Roots grow into a Septic Tank

When we moved into our current home, our septic was an immediate issue…with the alarm going off frequently. We had a septic company come out multiple times to look into the issues. We had a huge and beautiful willow tree located about 20 feet from the tank. The roots from the tree were growing into the tank! The company we were using cleaned the roots out of the tank and sadly we had to chop down the willow tree. BUT we didn’t remove the stump from the ground, instead we ground it down so it was no longer visible.

aGdNeEa+SQKHQgnvXXKZHAOur state requires yearly inspections of septic systems. I knew we wouldn’t pass our inspection this year due to our ongoing problems and the alarm going off.

Three years later, we finally addressed the issue again, as it wasn’t going to pass inspection. During the inspection we learned that our pump wasn’t working at all and needed to be replaced. The cost of the new pump was pricey, as we have an alternative septic system. And since I had disabled the alarm, we didn’t know the pump wasn’t working…my bad.

Remember those roots I talked about earlier? Apparently they were still alive even though the tree was cut down! And were still creeping into the tank 🙄

How to Fix the Problem of Tree Roots Growing into a Septic Tank

idr5w3biSNmovFsyG5rjiwHow to fix this situation? Kill the tree roots, cut the roots out of the tank and replace the pump. Ditto! To kill the roots, my company had to locate the stump, use a sharp object to grind lines into the stump and pour killing solution into the stump.

ZljLT+mvTL+maEWNOn4RtQThe 2 day job was involved. The workers have to wear special protective suits when they enter the septic tank. After removing all the tree roots, they installed the new pump. Programming the pump was also very involved and required quite a bit of time.

Tip: Remove large trees growing within 30 feet of the septic system. Also remove as much of the trees’ root systems as possible. Trees should be at least 50 feet from the septic system.

How to Repair Broken Septic Risers

fullsizeoutput_8e99So after all that, you’d think we were done with septic repair…NOPE! Our lawn mowers damaged the side of one of the risers and water was leaking into the tank. Another issue…ugh.

%l8kgOmbS9mC6FzADIHa4wLet’s fix that too while we’re at it! 💸

aFeMf6g6RUe3ij+zDdpQgAThey added a new insert to put over the damaged riser.

E58Omc%dQ0SKkZZTgMDeVAThen fitted a new riser for the side tank.

6IjuxUKqTbSbddToBPs2rwCut it down to size so it doesn’t stick up too high…

Ozpi6Dh+RNOIi2nE%7uEigAnd Voila..almost done.

Gtuj5F+hRCi4kb3pkZfpSwThey caulk it well so water can’t enter the tank.

uKmqSj5FRcOcND8khoXNsQAnd replaced the top. This job looked like an easy DIY for those that are handy. I found risers and lids online.

8vAB3Fl6Tm2Cqb8GHayrygThe job is complete. I’m happy to report that the alarm is reconnected and has not gone off in over a month 🙂

Home ownership is wonderful isn’t it? Even though we have constant repair work and continuing renovations, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Ok…maybe fewer repairs would be nice but I love being a home owner.

How about you? Can you see yourself selling your home and moving into a maintenance free apartment or rent a home?

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12 thoughts on “What to Do When Tree Roots Grow into a Septic Tank and Repairing Broken Risers

    1. I thought so too. Those tree roots have been an ongoing problem that I hope we solved. But we will have to keep an eye on it and check the tank every 6 months to make sure they are not growing back.

  1. A useful post. Having grown up in the country I know how much hassle septic tanks can be, especially when they are not working properly. For years we only had well water – it was great when a water line was installed from town, as it finally meant a dishwasher! Nobody thinks about sewage and water or the availability of a nearby gas line (some of my friends have to heat with propane), when they move to that dream home in the country, so this was good information, as septic systems are always expensive! Some areas of my county can’t even get internet coverage, which they are working on, and that’s expensive too.

    1. Hi Joni, we are on propane as well which can cost as much as $2.60 a gallon. I hate them and really wish we were on city water. I didn’t even go into the issues about the water, like sulfur smells, needing a softener and not being able to flush the toilet when the power goes out. But on the bright side…it is beautiful here 🙂 And really only 40 minutes to DC. I grew up in the city and much prefer country life…septic an all! 😉

      1. It’s the best of both worlds then, being close to the city but in the country. I would live in the country if I could, for the peace and quiet. And it looks like you have nice big yards. I live in my older neighbourhood for the big yard, not for the house which constantly needs work! I can’t handle those big new houses on postage size lots – such a lack of privacy.

      2. Completely agree Joni. Six years ago we moved from a large house on a small lot to where we are now. I couldn’t stand the lack of privacy either. Much more maintenance with a bigger yard but I still like it way more. Thanks for visiting. Going to hop over to see what you’re up to!

  2. Great post Denise! I grew up with a septic system and well remember the hassles. But you’re right – home ownership has ups and downs, but it’s so totally worth it! 💗 Thanks for the great tips. When I get my house in the country, I’m coming back here for info! 🙂

    1. Major hassles Barb. Septic tanks have come a long way and improved over time. But I still much prefer city water if I had to choose. And don’t get me started on the sulfur smell!! Thanks for visiting my friend.

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